U.S. Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Tim Scott (R-SC) released the following statement after introducing the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2019. This legislation creates an opt-in for military families to establish Military Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) to help fund their child’s education and expand access to personalized, high-quality educational experiences.
“America fights to win. That takes top-notch talent. Recruitment and retainment are a real component to national security,” said Sasse. “If we’re going to face down global threats with the best and brightest, we need to make it easy for those moms and dads to take care of their families. Sadly, making the decision to defend our freedom sometimes means that servicemembers’ kids miss out on the best education options available. That’s unacceptable. Our bill helps fix this by letting military families customize their kids’ education, and by empowering them to find the opportunities that best fit their needs. Members of our armed services deserve the best we’ve got, and so do their kids.”
“Right now, children of military families have limited access to high-quality education because of their unique living situations,” said Cotton. “This bill encourages service families to save for education and gives them the flexibility to spend those savings so their children’s education can be tailored to their own needs and circumstances.”
“The most essential part of a service member’s support system is their family. Military families provide a firm foundation for their loved ones who sacrifice daily to preserve and protect our nation. It is imperative that we do everything we can to ensure that the children of our service members are taken care of and have the opportunities to receive a quality education," said Scott. “As a kid who lived on an Air Force base, I know how important it is for parents to have options for their children's education. I am proud to once again introduce the Military Education Savings Act alongside my friends Senators Ben Sasse and Tom Cotton to help military children reach their fullest potential.”
In recent years, multiple branches of the armed services have struggled with recruitment and retention rates — just last year, the U.S. Army fell 6,528 recruits below its yearly goal, and the U.S. Marine Corps faced what officials have called “uncharacteristically high” turnover rates. Over one-third of military parents say that dissatisfaction with their children’s schooling was a significant factor in their decision to remain in or leave the military.
This legislation would amend create an opt-in for military families who choose to pursue alternative educational options to apply for an education savings account worth $6,000 annually.
ESAs are parent-driven accounts that allow families to customize their children’s educational experiences. The would allow families to tailor their children’s educational experience to their specific needs, with eligible uses of account funds including cost of attendance at a private institution, online learning programs, private tutoring, tuition and fees for college preparatory programs, and educational services and therapies, among many others. Any unused funds would rollover from year to year, and funds leftover after a student’s high school graduation can be used to finance attendance at an institution of higher education, costs associated with vocation programs, and fees for state-recognized industry certification exams.