Robert Hurt: Helping American families save for higher education

Robert_HurtAs students across Virginia’s Fifth District have settled into the school routine, many high school seniors are preparing to apply for college.  These preparations include more than achieving good grades and completing applications.  The rising cost of higher education requires families to start planning for college years in advance, especially to pay for ever increasing tuition and other costs.

Over the past 36 years, the cost of a higher education has increased 13 fold.  That means college tuition expenses have jumped 1,225% since 1978; that’s four times the rate of inflation and food costs.

Ensuring that young adults have access to higher education means they will be able to help build a stronger economy.  A well-educated, well-trained workforce is essential to maintaining a competitive economy.  Therefore, it is vital that hardworking American families have access to financial planning programs that help them prepare for the rapidly rising costs of college.

Virginia, along with several other states throughout the country, offers 529 plans, which are innovative avenues for families to plan for the costs of their children’s higher education over time.  These plans, including the prepaid plans, provide tax-advantaged options, but because of their classification, they are unable to invest in ways to maximize returns and meet the obligations to those who participate in their plans.

I introduced H.R. 3029, the College Savings Enhancement Act, a bipartisan bill to update current laws to allow state-run prepaid college savings plans the freedom to invest more broadly, enhancing their ability to meet their obligations to the families purchasing their plans.  This bipartisan legislation provides a commonsense update to our laws, allowing families who invest in these prepaid college savings plans to get the most return on their investments.

This is not the only bill dedicated to making higher education more accessible. Of the hundreds of House-passed bills, three directly pertain to improving access to our nation’s higher education system.  From providing students new opportunities to receive a quality education in a way that best serves their financial needs, to helping students gain access to the facts they need to make an informed decision about their education, to streamlining existing education tax credits to make it easier for families to plan, save, and invest in education, the House has passed legislation aimed at helping create opportunities for Americans to further their education. We have passed these bills, but they cannot provide greater opportunities to deserving Americans until the Senate acts.

Providing information and opportunities for Fifth District families to save and plan for higher education expenses are critical to ensuring individuals the ability to further their education.  I look forward to the Financial Services Committee’s consideration of H.R. 3029 and pursuing new avenues to ensure that families are able to efficiently invest in their children’s futures.

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

Robert Hurt represents the Fifth District in Congress.

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