Can 529 Be Used for Certificate Programs? This Bill Says Yes
A new bipartisan bill would expand the use of 529 education savings accounts to cover the fees related to professional certification and credentialing programs. ASAE and the Professional Certification Coalition say it would benefit associations and the workforce.
ASAE and the Professional Certification Coalition have endorsed a bipartisan bill introduced Dec. 6 to expand individuals’ use of “529” education savings accounts to cover the costs of professional certification and credentialing programs.
The Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act was introduced by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Rob Wittman (R-VA) to help students and individuals already in the workforce advance their career development through training, certification, and credentialing programs. Currently, 529 education savings accounts can only be used to pay for tuition at colleges and universities, vocational schools, and other postsecondary institutions.
Under the Spanberger-Wittman bill [PDF], tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required to enroll in or attend a program that prepares individuals for professional certification, as well as any fees charged by certification programs, would be eligible expenses.
“How do we ensure that we are culturally respecting and affirming through legislation that the jobs that drive our communities and economies are really important?” Spanberger said. “The basic element of letting people save for those sorts of [training and credentialing] programs is a piece of it.”
ASAE and its Professional Certification Coalition, which includes more than 100 associations and nonprofits that run certification programs, said the bill would benefit the association community and the workforce.
“The Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act will greatly expand the reach of 529 benefits to support additional opportunities for training and credentialing for individuals seeking to enter the workforce or advance in their occupations. The legislation will reach a broader and more diverse group than just the 50 percent of Americans who attend college,” said Mary Kate Cunningham, CAE, ASAE’s vice president for public policy, in a press release. “Certifications and other postsecondary credentials are pathways to employment and to career growth across fields, from entry-level service jobs to mid-career job changes to leadership positions in professions that require highly specialized knowledge.”