Legislation proposes bill to abolish Maryland 529 board in move to help recoup college savings for parents

The article first appears here, at Cbsnews.com.

BALTIMORE — The troubled Maryland 529 college savings program could be in for changes if lawmakers get their way.

There’s currently a bill to abolish the current board and allow the state treasurer to take over.

Parents told WJZ they are prepared to sue if they don’t get access to all the funds they were promised.

They said they have saved for years, some even for decades, for their children’s college tuition.

“So, we’ve had to borrow $24,000 this year alone to cover her,” parent Heather Boley said. “And we were told we would have 100 percent of it covered.”

There’s an emergency bill to help fix it.

Lawmakers introduced emergency legislation that would abolish and repeal the Maryland 529 board and allow the state treasurer Dereck Davis to run the program.

The bill has bipartisan support.

“Well, we have had the phones just go off the hook of people complaining about 529 not working out,” Senator Mike McKay said. “It’s just been a disaster. I can think of other issues that we’ve had but this is money that these people have put away for their children’s education and not to have clarity is just a disservice.”

Some parents want access to all the money they thought they’d saved, immediately.

But if the bill passes, the state treasurer, who could end up managing the program, said change will not come overnight.

“There are very significant issues that have to be resolved,” state treasurer Derek Davis said. “Like I said, I have a handle on what’s going on. But there’s a long way to go into that.”

“And if we’re being perfectly honest, this could end up in court, so it’s not anything that’s going to be resolved overnight.”

Boley invested in Maryland 529 when each of her children were born.

She had hoped her long-term saving would alleviate the stress of high college fees.

But when she went to pay her daughter’s bill last summer, Boley said more than half the money was gone.

“I thought I had, for my three kids, has been slashed in half, if not more,” Boley said. “My total three accounts should have been over $270,000. Now I’m told I only have 120,000 for all three for my three children.”

In January, the Executive Director for the Maryland 529 program told lawmakers that a “miscalculation” led thousands of parents to believe they had more money in their accounts than they actually did, and that as many as 31,000 accounts could affected.

The executive director said bills were still being paid.

However, parents say they still don’t have access to all their money.

While students and parents wait, they are hoping their voices will be heard.

If this bill passes, the state treasurer will take over control right away.

But there is no specific timeline on when parents will be able to get the money they believe they are owed.