March 29, 2022
Two weeks ago, NAST held its annual Legislative conference. It was attended by over 200 individuals from across the nation to discuss policy issues of significance to all treasurer’s offices. If you were able to attend, you heard from policy experts about what’s happening in Congress related to retirement, cannabis banking, infrastructure financing, elections, ABLE accounts, and college savings. The conference provided an opportunity for networking and discussion with other treasurer’s offices and corporate affiliates on our shared priorities and an opportunity to head over to Capitol Hill to advocate for those priorities.
Positive reports are coming back to NAST from members regarding the outcomes of their “Hill” meetings. We’ve heard that several congressional members have offered their support for expanded college savings programs. Some have even offered to cosponsor bills such as H.R. 4174 Expand American Educational Opportunity Act of 2021.
Congress has so many competing interests and priorities that they’re considering at any given time. It could be international conflict, a natural disaster, or other significant national events. Without our advocacy and sharing of concerns and priorities with members of Congress, our legislative initiatives can be easily disregarded or go unnoticed. As evidenced by the new cosponsors and committed support from congress members in the last week, often, all it takes is one meeting to educate them on issues to gain their support. However, if nobody speaks to them, they may not be aware that the issue even exists. If you didn’t have a chance to attend the conference or meet with your congressional representatives following the conference, we encourage you to do so either virtually or in their district offices. When you do, please consider sharing the following “Asks of Congress” that were provided to the Legislative Conference attendees and then share the results of your meetings with NAST staff so we can track the association’s advocacy efforts and follow-up if necessary.
Asks of Congress:
- Encourage Saving for College at the Workplace – The workplace is often where Americans make decisions about saving. Tax code incentives that promote employer contributions to Section 529 Qualified Tuition Programs will effectively encourage continued education among employees.
- Expand the use of a 529 account to recognized postsecondary credential programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The programs included in this initiative provide the basis for developing competencies in many technical skills and jobs that employers find increasingly difficult to fill.
- Include contributions to Section 529 Qualified Tuition Programs to the list of deferrals or contributions that qualify for the Saver’s Credit.
- Exempt assets in 529 accounts held for the benefit of a student from being treated as parental assets in determining a family’s expected contribution.
- Exempt the value of all 529 plan distributions, including any from accounts held by grandparents or noncustodial parents, from being treated as income to the student on the following year’s FAFSA when the distributions are used toward eligible expenses.
If you would like assistance with contact information for congressional representatives or help scheduling a meeting, please feel free to reach out to me at Dillon@StateTreasurers.org, and I’ll be happy to assist you.
Dillon Gibbons is the NAST Policy Director.