In 1998, with the Legislature’s passage of Second Substitute House Bill 2430 and subsequent signature by Governor Gary Locke, Washington State’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program was created. GET is Washington State’s 529 prepaid college tuition program. It is governed by federal IRS rules, Washington State law (RCW 28B.95) and policy established by the GET Committee. Its five members include State Treasurer Duane Davidson.
Serving Washington families for the past 17 years, GET helps them save and prepare for the higher education needs of their children.
Distributions from a prepaid tuition plan such as GET are tax-free if used to pay for qualified education expenses subject to certain additional restrictions. These expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies, equipment, costs of special needs services, and, if enrolled on at least a half-time basis, room and board.
Since 1998, over 157,000 GET accounts have been opened and over 47,000 students have already used their accounts to attend colleges, universities, and technical schools nationwide. A GET account can help your child benefit from higher education by making college more accessible and affordable, while reducing the need to take out expensive student loans.
Pay Upfront And Save
With GET, you save money by prepaying part or all of your child’s college tuition costs now, to avoid paying higher costs in the future. The State of Washington guarantees the value of your account will keep pace with the cost of resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive public university in Washington (typically the University of Washington or Washington State University).
Can Use Nationwide
Although the value of your account is determined by tuition costs at UW or WSU, you can use your account nationwide at practically any public or private college, university or vocational school, and the monetary value remains the same.
In response to legislative action that reduced tuition levels at all state colleges and universities, the GET Committee authorized delaying new GET unit sales for a period not to exceed two years, effective July 1, 2015. The Committee implemented this unit purchase delay to ensure GET customers would be protected, pending potential program changes that would ensure GET remains a good value for current and future customers.
GET recently completed a legislatively mandated study to evaluate future options for the program and the feasibility of offering additional college savings options to Washington citizens. Although the report was submitted to the Legislature, there is still much work to be done on evaluating options moving forward. It is important that the Committee complete this work before it reopens for new enrollments and unit sales.
In 2016, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 6601, which gave the GET Committee formal authority to develop a new 529 college savings plan to offer alongside GET. This legislation also directed the GET Committee to reopen GET to new enrollments and unit sales in 2017. Until this time, GET will not accept applications for new GET accounts (except for when an Account Owner needs to establish a new account for the purpose of transferring existing GET units to a new student beneficiary) and current customers will not be able to purchase any new units. All accounts opened or contributions made after June 30, 2015 were refunded to the individuals who made the contributions.
Governor Inslee signed Senate Bill 6601 into law on March 29, 2016. This bill created the Washington College Savings Program–a traditional 529 college savings plan (different from the pre-paid tuition (GET) plan. This bill also requires GET to reopen for new enrollments and unit purchases by July 2017. Stay tuned for a more specific date – to be announced soon – on when a unit price will be available and customers can open new accounts and/or buy additional units.
GET Program Facts:
GET is Washington’s 529 Prepaid Tuition Program, opened in 1998.
Authorized by Chapter 28B.95 RCW and Section 529 of the IRS Code.
Governed by the GET Committee (5 members)
GET participants purchase tuition units that are redeemable in the future.
Generally 100 tuition units = 1 year of undergraduate tuition and fees at Washington’s most expensive public institution.
GET’s payout is guaranteed by statute (RCW 28B.95.050).
Distributions for Current College Students as of March 31, 2017:
- Total students using units for qualified expenses in the 2016-17 academic year: 13,940
- Estimated dollar value of qualified distributions in the 2016-17 academic year: $115 Million
- Total students using units for qualified expenses since GET’s inception (1998): 47,521
- Estimated dollar value of qualified distributions since GET’s inception: $976 Million