Cruz Intros Education Savings Plan to Include Homeschoolers
by Maggie McKneely • July 17, 2018
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (TX) is continuing to fight so that homeschoolers may access a beneficial savings program that all other types of students can use.
Late last month, Cruz introduced S. 3102, the Student Empowerment Act, which would allow more families to use their own, hard-earned money for educational expenses by increasing the availability of 529 plans. These plans are tax-advantaged accounts designed to increase savings for future education expenses.
Money placed in 529 plans, which usually is bundled into a managed investment portfolio, is exempt from federal taxes.
Until recently, these plans could be used to save in advance for college tuition, fees, books, room and board.
But the tax bill that was signed into law last December expanded the rules so that money from 529 plans can be spent on private school tuition and some expenses from kindergarten through 12th grade.
While this was great news for most families facing the burden of a school tuition bill, after some 11th-hour political maneuvering, homeschool families found themselves cut off from most of the expansion’s benefits.
Cruz had initially attempted to include homeschool students in the tax bill with The Student Opportunity Amendment. The amendment would have expanded the use of 529 plans to include additional educational expenses, which would have allowed homeschool families to take advantage of these savings accounts.
But at the very last minute, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) used a parliamentarian procedure to cut homeschoolers out of the Student Opportunity Amendment. So every family benefitted from the 529 expansion except for homeschool families.
Cruz’s newly introduced Student Empowerment Act would end the homeschool discrimination and allow all students—public, private, and homeschool—to use 529 savings accounts for K-12 educational expenses. The senator stated that “by investing in the next generation of students and expanding school choice, we’re able to allow more students to have access to an education that truly fits their child’s needs, and to escape the one-size-fits-all approach to education.”
Fortunately, he’s not the only one on Capitol Hill who believes in school choice expansion. Senators Pat Toomey (PA), Roy Blunt (MO), Tom Cotton (AR), Mike Lee (UT), Ron Johnson (WI), Rand Paul (KY), James Lankford (OK), and Ben Sasse (NE) joined Cruz as original cosponsors on S. 3102.
Every family, regardless of educational choice, should have the ability to use their private savings in the way that best suits their needs, and 529 accounts are one way for them to do that. While HSLDA opposes any government funds for homeschoolers, we support the ability of homeschooling families to use their own money for their educational needs via 529 plans.
We are thankful for those in Washington who continue to fight for educational freedom.