About the GET Program
1. What is GET? +-
GET is Washington state's 529 prepaid college tuition program. It is governed by federal IRS rules and Washington State law (RCW 28B.95). 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 that 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). 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.
Learn more about GET in our Program Details.
Using My GET Units
How do I access my account when my child is ready to begin college? +-
It's easy to enroll in GET online or by mailing a paper form:
- Online: Click "Start a GET Account" on our homepage to enroll online during our open enrollment period (November 1 - May 31). The on-screen instructions will guide you through the process.
- By Mail: You may also download an enrollment form and mail it to us. Or, you can request that an enrollment form to be mailed to you. If you choose this option, make sure to request the Program Details booklet and/or the GET Enrollment Guide.
If you have any questions about the enrollment process you can get most of the information from our website or call or email our Contact Center at 800.955.2318 or GETInfo@wsac.wa.gov.
What if my child decides not to go to college? +-
You have four options:
- Wait to see if your student decides otherwise later on. Your student has up to 10 years from the Benefit Use Year on listed on the account (typically the year he or she graduates high school) to begin using the funds.
- Transfer the funds to another family member with an existing account by completing a Transfer Request form. There is a lifetime maximum of 500 units per student.
- Change the student beneficiary to another family member by completing a Change of Student Beneficiary form.
- Request a refund by completing a Refund/Cancellation Request form. This form must be notarized. Review our Refund and Cancellation policy to learn more.
How soon can I use my GET units? +-
You must hold Lump Sum and Custom Monthly units for at least two calendar years before you can use them. In addition, your Custom Monthly contract must be paid in full. Please note that the longer the units remain in your account, the greater your long-term return on investment will be. You should plan to hold your GET units for at least six years before you can expect to see measurable gain.
How many units can I use each academic year? +-
You can use up to 125 eligible units per academic year and any unused units rolled over from previous years of eligibility. The academic year runs from August 1 - July 31.
How is the value of my account determined? +-
One GET unit equals one percent of the resident, undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive Washington public university at the time of use. We determine this value, known as the unit "payout value," at the beginning of each academic year when the state public universities set their own tuition rates.
The current payout value of one GET unit is $117.82 (effective through July 31, 2015).
Example 1: Your student attends a Washington public college.
Let's say that your student plans to attend The Evergreen State College and you have 100 eligible units. Total tuition and fees for one academic year at Evergreen equal about 75 units. Consequently, after paying tuition and fees, you will have about 25 remaining GET units. You can use these units for books, housing and other qualified higher education expenses or wait and use them the following year.
Example 2: Your student attends a private or out-of-state college.
Let's say that your student will attend the University of Idaho as a non-resident and you would have 100 GET units to help cover the costs. For the 2014-2015 academic year, the payout value of one GET unit is $117.82. Therefore, 100 units are worth $11,782. You can use this amount to help offset your student's total costs. You and your student will be responsible for covering any remaining costs.
Why is the current GET unit price higher than the current GET unit payout value? +-
Because the state guarantees that the money you put into GET will keep pace with rising tuition, we must ensure that we always have sufficient funds available. The GET Committee sets the unit purchase price based on an actuarial formula that takes into account estimated future tuition, projected inflation and investment returns, and administrative costs. It also includes a stabilization reserve to adjust for periods of lower-than-expected returns or higher-than-expected tuition, and amortization of past losses. The GET Committee sets the unit price annually, and may adjust it once annually, if needed, to ensure financial stability for the program.
The payout value of a GET unit is established at the beginning of each academic year when the state public universities set their tuition rates. Each year, the payout value of a GET unit represents 1/100th of the actual resident, undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at Washington’s most expensive public university.
Today’s unit purchase price is higher than the current payout value because the state guarantees your GET account will keep pace with tuition in the future, even if it doubles or triples in price. This premium over current tuition ensures stability for the program.
It will take at least six years to realize a gain on your investment (more if using a Custom Monthly Plan), but GET’s guarantee ensures the money you save will be there in the future. GET is a self-sustaining program and receives no ongoing state appropriations.
Can a part-time student use this program? +-
Yes, you can use your GET units if your student attends school part-time. The value of your GET units will still be based on the resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive public university in Washington.
Where can I use my units? +-
You can use your units at nearly any college, university or technical school - public or private - in the United States and selected colleges in other countries. In fact, GET has already helped students attend school in all 50 states and 15 foreign countries. A college is eligible if it participates in federal financial aid programs through the U.S. Department of Education. To view a list of eligible schools or to verify a federal school code, visit the US. Department of Education's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website.
If your student attends a private or out-of-state college, you'll have to pay the difference between the value of your GET units and the college's tuition. In addition, enrollment in the GET Program does not guarantee that your student will pay in-state resident tuition or be admitted to any school.
Can I use my GET account for graduate school? +-
Yes. However, if tuition for graduate school is higher than resident undergraduate tuition at the most expensive Washington public university, you'll pay the difference.
My child is taking college-level courses through Running Start. Can I use my GET account to pay for them? +-
You can use your GET account to pay for books and other eligible out-of-pocket expenses that are required for Running Start courses. You cannot request reimbursement for tuition since it is subsidized and not an out-of-pocket expense.
What will my units cover? +-
GET units are designed to pay college tuition. However, if you have eligible units after paying tuition, you can use them to pay for room and board, books and other qualified higher education expenses. Review IRS Publication 970 for details.
You can use up to 125 eligible units per academic year and any unused units from a previous year. For example, if you have 250 units and use 100 units in the first year, you could use 150 units in the second year (25 leftover units + 125 units = 150 units).
If you use your units for room and board, you can pay up to the total room and board allowance calculated by the college in its Cost of Attendance budget. Check with your child's college's financial aid office to determine its room and board allowance.
What are state-mandated fees? +-
State-mandated fees are required by state law and charged to every student who attends a Washington public college or university. They include operating, building, and services and activities fees. They do not include fees imposed by an individual school. These school-required fees may include technology fees, library fees, recreation fees, fees to secure repayment of bonded indebtedness or other types of fees. These fees are not considered state-mandated fees and, therefore, are not included when determining the GET unit payout value. However, you can use your units to pay these additional fees if you have extra units available after paying tuition and state-mandated fees.
How will a GET account affect my child's eligibility for financial aid? +-
A GET account is considered an asset of the account owner. If the parent or dependent student is the account owner, the GET account is considered an asset of the parent and treated like any other parental asset in determining a family's eligibility for federal financial aid. Parental assets are assessed at a much lower rate than a student's. Consequently, a GET account has significantly less impact on the student's eligibility for financial aid, as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website.
What if my child receives a scholarship? +-
You have four options:
- Use your GET units to pay for room and board, books, and other qualified higher education expenses if your child's scholarship covers tuition and fees.
- Wait and hold your units for use in the future. Your child has up to 10 years to use his or her units and may want to use them for graduate school.
- Transfer the account to a family member, as long as you don't exceed the maximum 500 units per student.
- Request a refund. Please review our Refund and Cancellation policy for details.
How can I transfer units between family members? +-
You can only transfer units between GET accounts of qualifying family members as defined by the IRS. If both students have a GET account, you may simply transfer the units by completing a Transfer Request Form. You can complete this form by logging in to your GET account, selecting "My Account" and looking for the "Transfer Request form" on the next screen; or you can download the paper Transfer Request form.
If you want to transfer all the units, you may just change the name of the Student Beneficiary on the account by completing a Student Beneficiary Change Form. This form requires the Account Owner’s notarized signature. Please mail original forms to GET Program, PO BOX 43450, Olympia, WA 98504-3450.
If you need to establish a new GET account to make the transfer to another student, you need to complete the enrollment during the open enrollment period (November 1 – May 31), unless the new account is for a child under 12 months of age (newborns up to their first birthday can be enrolled year-round). A student may have multiple accounts but may have a total of no more than 500 units between all accounts in his or her name.
My student's college needs the payment for fall term right away. What should I do? +-
You have two options:
- Contact the Student Account's Office at your child's college and tell them your payment request from your GET account will take up to 14 days to process. You might ask if they will place a hold on his or her account to allow time for the payment to arrive. Some colleges will do this if they know they will receive guaranteed funding from GET.
- Pay the tuition bill yourself and then request reimbursement from your GET account. This can be done online by accessing your account with your Login ID and Password, then completing a Reimbursement Request Form.
I submitted my Direct Payment Request on time, and the payment deadline for my child's college has passed. Why hasn't the money been distributed from my GET account? +-
Some of the large Washington public colleges ask us to batch payments for each term, which allows them to receive one payment for all students. The colleges often post the GET funds to the student's account and then request payment from GET, typically after the deadline has passed. To see if this applies to you, log in to your account to verify that your online Direct Payment Request is in "approved" status and that the information you submitted, including the payment term and date, is correct. If you have additional questions, please call us.
Will I be able to use my GET account to study abroad? +-
You can use GET directly to cover qualified higher education expenses (tuition, room and board, etc.) at any of the schools in foreign countries that are listed on the FAFSA website. There are many international schools listed; just choose “State,” then “Foreign Country” in the search menu to view the complete list. Also, if tuition or other qualified higher education expenses for a study-abroad program will be paid directly to your university (for which GET is already approved), you can use GET as you normally would to cover them. The payment must go to an eligible institution of higher education. GET is unable to pay study abroad programs directly, or reimburse out-of-pocket expenses paid directly to these programs. Also, please note that travel to and from your destination is not considered a qualified higher education expense.
If a university charges differential tuition for a specific course of study, will my GET account cover that? +-
Differential tuition has not yet been fully defined by universities, nor has it yet been implemented. Your GET account can be used to pay these qualified higher education costs. However, the payout value for GET units, which is established at the beginning of each academic year, is based on tuition and state-mandated fees that are charged to all students at Washington's highest-priced public university. By definition in the GET Master Agreement, "State-mandated fees are those provided by statute, including operating, building and student activity fees." The statute (RCW 28B.15.031) defines operating fees as "the fees, other than building fees, charged all students registering at the state's colleges and universities..."