Momentum Grows for Spanberger, Wittman Bill to Allow Virginia Students & Workers to Use 529 Accounts to Pay for Training & Credentialing Programs

The “Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act” Would Give Students & Workers the Freedom to Use Their 529 Savings Plans to Cover Workforce Training, Certification, & Credentialing Program Costs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger and Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) this week announced the additional support of 17 organizations for their bipartisan Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act — which would help more Virginia students and workers cover the costs of workforce training and credentialing programs.

The Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act would give individuals in Virginia and across the country the freedom to use their 529 savings plans to cover the costs of certain workforce training and credentialing programs. Additionally, the bill would allow students to use their 529 funds to pay for associated costs related to certification exams and maintenance of certification credentials. Right now, only expenses for colleges, vocational schools, universities, or other post-secondary institutions are considered eligible for 529 education savings plan expenditures.

“More organizations are backing our bipartisan bill — because they understand the imperative of investing in the next generation’s education,” said Spanberger. “Recently, I’ve heard directly from many Virginia employers who’ve struggled to fill middle-skill jobs. In a moment when these jobs are more available, we can’t afford to leave behind Virginia’s workers — simply because they lack adequate training.”

Spanberger continued, “The momentum behind our legislation shows growing support for the idea that students should be able to use their 529 savings accounts to cover tuition, books, certification, and testing costs related to workforce training programs — like CNA, IT, and welding programs. A four-year college is not always the right option for every Virginia student — and I’m proud to lead this legislation alongside Congressman Wittman to make 529 plans more flexible and to deliver a win for our Commonwealth’s students, workers, businesses, and families.”

“I’m grateful for the support of these organizations for the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act,” said Wittman. “Their support, and the bipartisan support from my colleagues in Congress, emphasizes how important it is to remove the financial barriers to obtaining the in-demand skills of a 21st-century job market. By expanding the use of 529 account funds for postsecondary training expenses, we can ensure businesses are equipped with a skilled and innovative workforce who can drive our nation’s economy forward. I’m proud to continue leading this important effort with my Virginia Delegation colleague, Congresswoman Spanberger, and I look forward to the future progression of our bill.”

Spanberger and Wittman reintroduced their bipartisan bill in March 2023.

“ASAE is proud to stand with Congressman Wittman and Congresswoman Spanberger in support of the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act,” said Michelle I. Mason, President & CEO, American Society of Association Executives. “Their bipartisan legislation is good policy. Workers in any phase of their career, at any education level — of any background — could more readily access the unique tax-advantages that 529s provide. And, at the same time, boost their career prospects and earning potential. I commend Representatives Wittman and Spanberger for their support of our workforce.”

“Professional certifications demonstrate expertise, experience and skills in every sector of the economy and support both workers and consumers,” said Denise Roosendaal, FASAE, CAE, Executive Director, Institute for Credentialing Excellence. “Thank you to Congressman Wittman and Congresswoman Spanberger for introducing the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, which would help provide workers the necessary expertise, experience and skills to build up our economy and improve their lives.”

“Certifications that PCC members provide are respected credentials recognized by employers, consumers and licensing authorities, and demonstrate key knowledge and competencies for a given occupation,” said Craig Saperstein, Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, & Public Policy Counsel, Professional Certification Coalition. “This legislation broadens access to 529 savings plans, changing the paradigm from ‘college savings plans’ to ‘career savings plans.’ Under the bill, 529 plan savings can be used to pay for certifications for middle-skill jobs as an alternative to college, or for post-college entry-level or mid-career credentials that enhance expertise and expand opportunity.”

“If we are truly going to build and invest in a 21st-century workforce, we must ensure that financial resources are aligned with the most essential and in-demand jobs,” said Chris Spear, President & CEO, American Trucking Associations. “This common-sense bill does exactly that. The ability to use tax-advantaged 529 accounts for technical education, licensing, and credential program expenses would go a long way toward eliminating financial barriers to fulfilling careers in trucking. We thank Representatives Wittman and Spanberger for their leadership on this common-sense legislation, which will help ensure our economy has the workforce it needs to grow and prosper in the years to come.”

“The Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act is a great step forward to promote the trucking industry to America’s future workforce,” said Ryan Streblow, President & CEO, National Tank Truck Carriers. “NTTC supports the use of 529 account funds to cover education and credentialing needed to train future truck drivers and maintenance personnel, both essential to delivering the bulk commodities we depend on every day.”

Organizations backing the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act include: Virginia529, American Institute of CPAs, American Trucking Associations, Tomorrow’s Workforce Coalition, Institute for Credentialing Excellence, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American Society of Association Executives, Commercial Vehicle Training Association, Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance, Financial Planning Association, Global Business Travel Association, National Ground Water Association, National Tank Truck Carriers, Owner-Operated Independent Driver Association, Professional Certification Coalition, Diving Equipment and Marketing Association, and Institute of Inspection, Leaning, and Restoration Certification.

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