Democrat Frerichs & Republican Davis Team Up To Support 529 College Savings Plans

Aug 4, 2016

Democratic State Treasurer MIke Frerichs speaks at a news conference with Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, at the University of Illinois Illini Union on Wednesday.
Credit Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

  Democratic State Treasurer Mike Frerichs and Republican Congressman Rodney Davis shared a podium at the University of Illinois Urbana campus Wednesday to provide bipartisan support for the expansion of 529 College Savings Plans.

529’s help families save for college by providing tax breaks and other financial advantages.

As Illinois treasurer, Frerichs is the Trustee for the three state-sponsored 529 plans --- the Bright Start and Bright Directions college savings plans and the College Illinois pre-paid tuition plan.

Frerichs says just having a plan can help a student’s prospects, no matter how much money is in it.

 “There was a study conducted by two researchers at Washington University that showed that if a young person knows they have a college savings account in their name, they are seven times more likely to go to college,” said Frerichs, “because they know that someone expects them to go to college. Someone has told them … you are college material, and I believe in you so much, I am investing in you."

Frerichs supports legislation in Springfield (IL House Bill 5882) that would extend the life of the state tax credit for matching funds contributed by employers to 529 plans. And he complimented Rep. Davis for being open to ideas for federal legislation to help strengthen 529 plans.

Davis is co-sponsor of a bill in Washington (H.R. 3170) to allow families to use money in their 529 accounts to help pay off student loan debt.  He supported a bill that passed the House and now awaits Senate action, to allow the use of money from 529 accounts to pay for a student’s computer and Internet service.

Davis praised Frerichs’ stewardship for Illinois’ three 529 plans, says thing helped make college affordable for families across the state.

 “Mike does it every day by making sure that the 529 plans that he oversees through the state treasurer’s office are able to make money,” said Frerichs, “so that those parents who have invested those dollars, in hopefully 18 to 20 years later, will be able to utilize those dollars to pay for that kid’s college education.”

Davis’ latest proposal is legislation (HR 3861) he’s sponsoring with Florida Democrat Gwen Graham.  It would let employers help pay off their employees’ student loans with pre-tax dollars.