Thursday, August 22, 2013

Robert's Round-Up: Making strides toward affordable college education for Virginians

Congressman Robert Hurt

This week, as the new academic year is starting at many of Virginia's colleges and universities, we are reminded of the sacrifice and hard work that so many families put forth for the opportunity to send their children to college.

The expenses associated with going to college, whether it be tuition, room and board, or commuting costs, are on the rise. Planning ahead and starting early to account for these costs is key, and Virginia, along with many other states across the country, provides a way for families to invest in their children's futures.

The prepaid 529 plan, which is offered in Virginia and several other states, is a prepaid college savings program that allows families to prepay future tuition and fees at public colleges and universities. While the plan is designed to work with in-state public schools, the benefits can also be applied to tuition costs at private or out-of-state schools. Further, it can be used to prepay for two-year community colleges.

Currently, state-run prepaid college savings programs like the 529 Plan are not allowed to purchase certain securities, limiting them in terms of their investments. This restricts them from investing in ways to maximize returns and meet the obligations to those who buy credits under their plans.

However, similar entities to these college savings plans, such as state-run employee pension funds, are included in the definitions for these rules and are therefore permitted to purchase certain securities. College savings plans should be afforded the same opportunity.

That is why I, along with Congressman John Delaney (D-MD), have introduced H.R. 3029, the College Savings Enhancement Act, which would update these securities laws to include college savings plans like the Virginia 529 Plan in these rules and allow them to better meet their obligations to the families investing in their children's education.

This bipartisan legislation is a commonsense update to our securities laws to ensure that these prepaid college savings plans can best serve families investing in their children's futures throughout Virginia and the United States. College costs are rising every day, and our bill allows hardworking families one avenue to get more bang for their buck by investing in these plans.

Recognizing the importance of education, I worked with my colleague, Congressman Delaney, because educating our children is not a Democrat or Republican issue; it is a fundamental pillar of the American Dream, and the College Savings Enhancement Act makes strides toward achieving the goal of an affordable education. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to move our bill forward and provide real solutions to advancing America's future.

If you need any additional information, please visit my website at or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.