WASHINGTON – During a hearing on October 25, 2023, regarding expanding educational freedom and workforce opportunities for American families, students, and workers, witnesses shared powerful stories of how having more educational options improved their own lives, gave their children better educational resources, and enabled other Americans to acquire the skills necessary to enter the workforce.
Members and witnesses deliberated on how the growing number of families looking for alternative education options following years of virtual learning that exposed the shortcomings of our country’s schools can be assisted by extending the potential uses of 529 education savings accounts to cover costs such as books, tutoring to help students catch up after online school, educational therapies for students with disabilities, and homeschooling costs. In order to address the skilled labor crisis in America, members also looked into enabling parents and students to use a 529 account to pay for a skilled labor or licensing program in addition to K–12 schooling.
American Truck Training’s CEO and President, Jerome Redmond, testified during the hearing in support of the Freedom To Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, H.R. 1477 (IH). “The act if passed would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permit certain expenses associated with obtaining or maintaining recognized postsecondary credentials to be treated as qualified higher education expenses for purposes of 529 accounts.” Listen in below.
Redmond spoke passionately to the committee about an ATT student and her inspiring story.
“Easily…we have quite a bit of students. In fact, I just thought of one in my head…her name is Alania, who’s a current student at our school. She went to nursing school at first; it just didn’t pan out. It became expensive; there were other reasons why she needed to leave. Had she had some type of funding, like this 529, she could have just easily paid for trucking school and gotten her CDL [commercial driver’s license]. I’m actually glad to say also, just as of yesterday, she just got pre-hired for a company. And what pre-hired means…it just means you’re conditionally hired at a trucking company, ready to go as soon as you graduate. I think that the 529 plan should be expanded for folks like Alania.”
Photo Source: Committee on Ways and Means
While there is a potential two million skilled labor shortfall in the United States by 2030, 529 accounts presently only pay for four-year college tuition and related costs. Expanding these funds to cover skilled labor and licensing programs could help alleviate the labor crisis. In addition to providing potential students with an alternative to the conventional, expensive four-year degree programs offered by today’s colleges and universities they could also assist workers in acquiring the skills necessary to make a respectable living.
To read more on this topic, please go to
Seven Key Moments from Ways and Means Hearing on Educational Freedom and Opportunity.