College & Workforce Readiness

House Votes to Expand Use of 529 College-Savings Plans

By Caralee J. Adams — February 26, 2015 1 min read

Under a measure passed by the U.S. House on Wednesday, students would be able to use money from 529 college savings plans to buy computers, software and other technology. The proposal was largely non-controversial, passing 401-20. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.

The legislation would also make some technical changes to accounts, such as allowing students to put money back into their plans from a college refund without paying a penalty. The cost of the bill: $51 million over the next decade, according to the Associated Press.

Expanding the popular college-savings accounts, in which about 7 million families participate, is in contrast to efforts last month by the Obama administration to modify the tax-advantaged plans.

Prior to this year’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama proposed taxing withdrawals from 529 plans. But criticism of the idea was swift among members of both political parties, and the White House backed off of the proposed change. A recent poll found that just 19 percent of Americans supported the president’s proposal to scale back the benefits of the college accounts.

AP reports the White House favors the measure now being considered on Capitol Hill.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.