Legislation would allow Americans to use ‘529’ education savings accounts to pay for training programs

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Braun (R-IN) reintroduced the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, bipartisan legislation to allow Americans to use ‘529’ education savings accounts for skills training, credentialing, and certification programs.  Current law only permits workers and families to use ‘529’ accounts to pay for college, university, and vocational school expenses. 

“Skills training and development programs help provide people with the tools and resources they need to succeed in our economy,” said Klobuchar. “By allowing workers to use their ‘529’ educational savings to pay for additional training and certification, our bipartisan legislation will enable more Americans to access and benefit from these valuable programs.” 

“Every high school student in America needs to know that you don’t necessarily have to go to college to have a great career. By expanding opportunities and access to skills training programs, and letting Americans use their ‘529’ education savings to pay for it, we can address the nationwide skills shortage and fill American jobs,” said Braun. 

In addition to Klobuchar and Braun, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL). 

“Whether it’s a college degree or a credentialing program, education and workforce training play a vital role in opening the doors of opportunity to all Americans,” said Collins. “529 plans are a great option for parents to save for education expenses, but currently these accounts cannot be used for skills training and credentialing programs.  Our bipartisan bill would address this barrier and improve the flexibility of 529 plans.  By allowing 529 plans to cover these additional workforce training expenses, we can help students achieve their dreams and develop skills that are in high demand by employers.”

“Every West Virginian and American deserves access to a quality education, whether that be through college or workforce training and other credentialing programs that provide workers with the experience and recognition necessary to compete for good-paying jobs in the modern economy,” said Manchin. “I’m proud to reintroduce the bipartisan Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act to ensure individuals who choose to participate in these postsecondary education programs have access to the same education savings accounts as traditional college students. This legislation will help meet workforce demands and spur economic growth in our communities, and I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get it across the finish line.”

"Preparing New Mexicans for the good-paying jobs of tomorrow means increasing access to quality skills training and professional development opportunities," said Heinrich. "Allowing workers and families to pay for these programs with their ‘529’ accounts will make it easier for them to acquire in-demand skills, pursue new jobs, and achieve success in our changing economy."

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to learn, grow, and expand their professional opportunities. This bill makes it easier for families to do just that – whether that’s in a college classroom or through skills training and development,” said Welch. “So many families are still struggling to make ends meet, facing high prices and persistent income inequality. By making it easier to access training and certification programs, this bill helps strengthen our local economies and give families the support they need to thrive.”

“During my four decades as a coach and educator, I met many students with unique skills they learned and applied outside of a traditional classroom setting. Our economy cannot grow without skilled workers, and it’s important we incentivize Americans to pursue careers that both align with their interests and fill crucial gaps in our workforce. Not all of those valuable careers require college degrees. This legislation allows savings accounts set aside for education to be applied to other forms of training and certification,” said Tuberville. 

Klobuchar has long led efforts to boost workforce development and skills training. In January, she and Collins reintroduced the American Apprenticeship Act, which would provide states with tuition assistance funding to support apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. She also partnered with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) to reintroduce the Apprenticeships to College Act, bipartisan legislation to allow workers to earn college credits for completed apprenticeships.

In February 2021, Klobuchar and former Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced the Skills Investment Act and Skills Renewal Act to help Americans save for and access skills training, apprenticeships, and professional development programs.