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Statement from College Savings Plans Network on Passage of H.R. 529

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 25, 2015) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 529, legislation introduced by Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) that would make 529 plans more flexible by making computers an eligible education expense; allowing the redeposit of college refunds without negative tax implications in certain circumstances and updating outdated accounting rules.

Betty Lochner, chair of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN)—the nation’s leading objective source of information about Section 529 College Savings Plans and Prepaid Tuition Plans—issued the following statement on the passage of this critical piece of legislation:

“Saving for college is a high priority for American families. With 12 million accounts open and almost $250 billion invested, 529 college savings plans are a powerful tool that help American families cope with the rising cost of college and avoid becoming saddled with student loan debt.

The provisions in H.R. 529 are crucial elements to help middle class families save for future higher education expenses and allow current students to realize their career aspirations.

We thank the House of Representatives for voting to implement these common sense improvements to 529 plans and look forward to now working with the Senate to ensure this measure passes both chambers of Congress.”

Join Us in Asking Congress to Pass H.R. 529

Betty Lochner
Chair of the College Savings Plans Network and Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program
February 19, 2015

This is a very exciting time in the College Savings world as legislation to enhance 529 savings plans has legs in Congress. In fact, H.R. 529 will likely be taken up for vote in the U.S. House of Representatives sometime next week and we want to do everything in our power to ensure that it is passed. We have mobilized our members representing 49 states with 529 Savings Plans to advocate with their Representatives to pass this proposed legislation.

Implementing common sense improvements to 529 plans so that more families see the benefits of saving will only help the overall health and well-being of our country over the long-haul. These plans have proven to help limit or eliminate future student loan debt, while aiding to increase access to higher education. Here are what real families from my home state of Washington are saying about saving with our state’s 529 plan better known as GET (Guaranteed Education Tuition):

Presidents’ Day Reflections

Lucas Minor
GET Marketing & Communications Manager
February 16, 2015

Whenever Presidents’ Day rolls around, it rekindles many fond memories from U.S. history classes in elementary and high school. Iconic events come to mind such as George Washington crossing the Delaware, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the framing of the Constitution and President Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address. I was always awed by these great leaders, and the impacts they made, not only in creating, growing and preserving a young nation, but in setting a precedent that representative democracies do work and can thrive. However, as I reflect on these larger-than-life images that many of us hold of our forefathers, I try to remember that despite all of the reverence we project onto them, many saw themselves simply as stewards of democracy and the public’s will. 

To that end, our nation’s leaders have (generally) fought to preserve the foundations of the Constitution and made policy decisions intended to serve the best interest of the people. While our 44 Presidents have certainly held widely varying views on the best approaches to this noble purpose, something most could agree on is the importance of education. It’s hard to disagree with the idea that the dissemination of knowledge is the cornerstone for a thriving economy, an increasingly just political system, and the overall advancement of society. 

The Power of Love: 529 Plans and the Emotional Side of Saving for College

Patricia Roberts
Managing Director, AllianceBernstein L.P. and
Chair, College Savings Plans Network Corporate Affiliates

February 9, 2015 

As Valentine’s Day approaches each year, I am reminded of Thomas Aquinas’ observation, “the things we love tell us what we are.”  

Over the past few weeks, Americans were presented with an unexpected opportunity to swiftly and collectively demonstrate the love they have for the children in their lives, the value they place on higher education, and the commitment they have to an easy-to-use financial vehicle that helps them plan ahead for their loved ones’ post-secondary education expenses.

Feeling the love
It was parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, current and future students along with so many other concerned citizens who, without hesitation, joined a diverse group of lawmakers, state treasurers and other public officials in an impromptu coast-to-coast chorus to help preserve the tax benefits of 529 college savings plans. It was an unusual circumstance for so many seemingly diverse individuals to be singing in unison off of the very same page. One could almost feel the warmth that was evoked by their commonality of interest, see the party lines graciously fade and hear the collective sigh of relief from families across the nation as they realized their voices had indeed been heard and their academic hopes for those they love, preserved.

Legislation to Enhance 529 College Savings Plans

Betty Lochner
Chair of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN) and Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program
February 4, 2015

Last week Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced H.R.529, legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would make 529 plans more flexible and remove some of the obstacles participants face while saving for college.

Specifically, H.R.529 includes:

•    Making computers an eligible expense;
•    Allowing the redeposit of funds without negative tax implications in certain extenuating circumstances (e.g. a student gets sick at the beginning of the term);
•    Updating outdated accounting rules.

This week Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Mark Warner (D-VA), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Stop to smell the roses

Sheila Salehian
Senior Deputy Treasurer, State of Nevada
February 2, 2015
Happy Valentine's Day! Have you ever wondered about the history of this holiday? Valentines Day is said to have started with an ancient Roman fertility ceremony called Lupercalia, held in mid-February, dating as far back as 496 AD. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius made it a Christian holiday, and moved the date back one day, to the 14th of February.  There was more than one saint named “Valentine” and as the holiday grew in popularity, it become associated with love and romance in the 1300’s. By the 1840’s it was celebrated in the U.S. with cards to loved ones.

As I reflect back on the years, one of my fondest memories of Valentines Day was when my mother would surprise me at work and take the time to drop off a card and a small vase of flowers. In that card she told me how proud she was of me, as I worked in my first ‘real job’ for a Financial Services firm, fresh out of college. Years later, raising my own children, I find myself thinking about the wisdom, love and life lessons my mom bestowed upon my three siblings and I, growing up in the Midwest. Although we did not have a lot of money, we were always reminded of what we did have, namely our health and our ability to learn and drive our own destiny in life. We were always encouraged to get good grades, and told that with education, anything was possible.

President Realizes Formula for College Success Includes Savings Incentives

Betty Lochner
Chair of the College Savings Plans Network & Director of Washington State’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program
January 29, 2015

When I was elected Chair of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN), never in my wildest imagination did I think I would be debating the value of one of the core benefits and characteristics of 529 plans with the President of the United States. Nonetheless, that is exactly what happened this past week when President Obama announced his plan to repeal the tax benefits associated with 529 college savings plans.

As soon as the President’s proposal was announced as part of his State of the Union address, members of CSPN rallied together like never before to unite in an advocacy effort to defend the value of 529 plans for the more than 12 million American families that own accounts.  Our goal was to remind the President and our elected officials that planning and saving are vital components to ensuring higher education enrollment rates continue to rise in our country and that families receive the support they need in helping their children fulfill their dreams.

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