By Betty Lochner
Executive Director, Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition program
October 15, 2013
Last week I attended the National Association of State Treasurers’ (NAST) annual conference in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. This event brings together state treasury departments from across the nation to discuss public finance issues, share policy ideas and elect new NAST officers for the upcoming year. For me, the conference was a valuable and informative three days of networking and gaining more insight into the complex financial issues throughout our nation and how those issues are affecting individual states and 529 plans.
You might be wondering why the director of a 529 plan attended a conference for state treasurers. It turns out that state treasurers and 529 plans have much more in common than you might think. Here are a couple things you might not know about the relationship between state treasurers and college savings plans:
- The National Association of State Treasurers is the umbrella organization for the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN was formed in 1991 as an affiliate to the NAST).>
- In 23 states and the District of Columbia, state-sponsored 529 plans are administered by the state treasurer’s office.
- Even in states where 529 plans are not housed under the treasurer’s office, there is often a close relationship. For instance, here in Washington State, Treasurer McIntire sits on the committee that governs our 529 plan. His experience and knowledge make him an invaluable resource to the committee.
It might also interest you to know that 529 plans were a significant point of discussion at the NAST conference. Part of the conference agenda is to pass resolutions that support the mission of the organization. Five resolutions were presented that specifically addressed 529 plans, including three existing resolutions seeking renewal and two new resolutions seeking approval: The following resolutions were renewed by NAST and CSPN:
1. INCLUSION OF COMPUTERS, INTERNET ACCESS, AND EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE AS QUALIFIED HIGHER EDUCATION EXPENSES WITHIN SECTION 529 PLANS
2. EXCLUDE FROM INCOME EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTIONS TO AN EMPLOYEE’S SECTION 529 PLAN OR A SECTION 529 SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
3. INCLUSION OF SECTION 529 PLANS IN THE SAVER’S CREDIT TO ENCOURAGE MORE AMERICAN FAMILIES TO SAVE FOR THE RISING COST OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Two new resolutions approved by NAST and CSPN:
1. PRESERVING THE CURRENT TAX TREATMENT OF SECTION 529 QUALIFIED TUITION PROGRAMS (529 Plans)
2. REGARDING THE TREATMENT OF SECTION 529 QUALIFIED TUITION PLANS UNDER THE HIGHER EDUCATION ACT (urging the President and the Congress of the United States to revise the Higher Education Act to include language in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to change the current federal financial aid methodology related to the treatment of Section 529 qualified tuition plans) It was inspiring to attend an event that brought together some of the brightest financial minds throughout the nation. CSPN is proud to be a part of NAST and is encouraged by the work that they do.
The National Association of State Treasurers seeks to provide advocacy and support that enables member states to pursue and administer sound financial policies and programs benefiting the citizens of the nation.
To learn more about NAST, visit: www.nast.org.
About the Author:
Betty Lochner is director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program. Under her leadership, the GET program has grown from 7,900 to over 152,000 accounts, with a fund valued at over $2.55 billion. Washington is unique in that their only 529 plan offered is a prepaid tuition plan. Lochner currently serves as Vice Chair of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN).