Norcross, Kelly Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Make Apprenticeships More Affordable
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressmen Donald Norcross (D-NJ) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) introduced the bipartisan 529 Opening Paths to Invest in Our Nation’s Students (529 OPTIONS) Act, H.R. 2679, which makes apprenticeships more affordable by allowing individuals enrolled in a registered apprenticeship program to fund tools and equipment for the program out of a “529” college savings plan.
529 savings plans are an important tool that help Americans plan for college costs, yet they are not allowed to be used for technical training. If you want to go to a registered apprenticeship and use the money that you saved – right now, it is not an option. The 529 OPTIONS Act changes that.
“An apprenticeship program shaped my life – taking me from construction work to Congress. I know firsthand that education and job training is not one-size-fits-all,” said Congressman Norcross, the only electrician in Congress. “When a child is born, you don’t know if they’ll want to go to college or build the college. In Congress, we should be supporting each kid equally. Right now, students and families can use 529 tax-free savings accounts for college, but they can’t use those same savings accounts for apprenticeships. This exclusion is unfair and counterproductive. We need electricians and computer programmers, just like we need doctors and judges – and this bill levels the playing field for the students and future workers who start out in apprenticeships.”
“529 plans are a great way for Americans to invest in learning and it’s time we updated the law to allow education in the trades to be eligible. We encourage America’s youth to pursue an education that will help them earn a living. Not everyone needs to go to a traditional college, and instead choose to study other valuable skills in the trades. Those individuals should be able to use a 529 plan to finance their education, just like those who attend a 4-year university. The 529 Options Act will allow them to do so! The law should reflect the value of apprenticeship programs just like it does a four-year degree,” said Congressman Kelly.
The 529 OPTIONS Act is endorsed by North America’s Building Trade Unions (NABTU), the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC), the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), FCA International, the Signatory Wall and Ceiling Contractors Alliance (SWACCA), the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and the Construction Employers of America (CEA).
The 529 OPTIONS Act specifically allows individuals enrolled in a registered apprenticeship to use money from their 529 Education Savings account, tax-free, to pay for expenses associated with being an apprentice. These expenses include:
- books, supplies, and equipment,
- child care at a licensed day care center,
- transportation, and
- obtaining an industry certification, or other type of credential, in connection with such enrollment, attendance or completion of such program.