By Betty Lochner
Chair of the College Savings Plans Network and Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program
April 1, 2015

I read a blog recently that said the world is changed by your example, not by your opinion. This quote epitomizes my last week where I joined CSPN affiliate and state members in Washington D.C. for the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) legislative conference.

This year there were two sessions at the conference entirely devoted to 529 college savings plans. The first session included a panel of key congressional aids that have been involved in legislation surrounding enhancements to 529 plans, including the new ABLE legislation.

The second panel featured Susan Hirschmann of Williams & Jensen as well as co-chairs of the CSPN Federal Initiatives Committee Joan Marshall (Maryland) and Mary Morris (Virginia) who discussed the prospects for our legislative initiatives and what we can do as states to advocate for our plans.

During this session the panelists introduced our new CSPN brochure titled “A Guide to Low and Moderate Income Awareness Campaigns,” which outlines our industry’s commitment to promoting and encouraging all American families to save for their children’s future college education through 529 plans. This brochure is a great resource to show examples what states have matching grants, scholarships, payroll deduction, and financial literacy and reading programs.

The brochure was a useful tool as we used it the next day as we joined State Treasurers in meetings with members of Congress and their staff to discuss the many ways in which we are making positive impacts when it comes to making college more affordable and accessible for our next generation of business and community leaders. We had the opportunity to thank many members who supported the bipartisan passage of H.R. 529 and encouraged Senators to co-sponsor the companion Senate bill S. 335.

Principal sponsor, Sen. Chuck Grassley addressed the group and emphasized his commitment to passing the Senate bill as quickly as possible.  As a long-time principal sponsor of H.R. 529, Rep. Lynn Jenkins said at the conference “I’m not done working on 529 plans as we have a whole host of improvements to still make.”

I want to thank all of the members who took the time to attend and participate in this important work. I am continually amazed by the professional commitment and compassion of my professional colleagues around the country who are consistently looking for new and creative ways for helping families save.

About the Author:
Betty Lochner is the Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program. Under her leadership, the GET program has grown from 7,900 to over 153,000 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 Chair of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN).