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Top Ten FAQs

1. Can GET be used at private colleges or out-of-state universities? +-

You can use your GET units at nearly any public or private college, university or technical school in the United States and at selected colleges in other countries. A college is eligible if it participates in federal financial aid programs through the U.S. Department of Education. To view the hundreds of participating schools, visit the FAFSA website.

Your GET units may not be enough to cover the full cost of tuition and fees at private or out-of-state colleges. If your school costs more than University of Washington or Washington State University, you pay the difference. If it costs less, you can also use GET units to pay other higher education costs such as room and board, books, etc.

2. What if my child gets a scholarship? +-

You have several options. If your child's scholarship covers tuition and fees, you can use your GET units to pay for room and board, books, or other qualified higher education expenses. You can transfer the account, in whole or in part, to another family member (as long as you don't exceed the 600 unit maximum). You can request a refund (see our Refund and Cancellation policy, available on the Forms page, for details). You can also wait up to ten years to see if your child may want to apply GET account funds toward graduate school.

3. How will a GET account affect my financial aid? +-

If the parent or dependent student is the Account Owner, GET is considered an asset of the parent and treated more favorably than assets of a non-dependent student when determining eligibility for financial aid. Distributions from GET accounts owned by non-parents may be treated as student income the following year and have greater impact. You may want to consult your financial advisor or the financial aid office at your school

4. What if my student chooses not to go to college? +-

You have several options. Your student has up to ten years after his or her selected benefit use year to begin using the GET account. Many students who aren't ready for college upon graduation change their minds. You can transfer funds in the account to another family member with an existing account (as long as you don't exceed the 600 unit maximum), or change the student beneficiary on the entire account to another family member. You can request a refund as well, though you will need to pay taxes on any increase in value as well as a refund penalty. Please review our Refund and Cancellation policy (available on the Forms page) for details.

5. How do I know it's safe? +-

GET is one of only a few state-sponsored prepaid college tuition plans in the country with a guarantee in state law (RCW 28B.95.050). The state guarantees that if future tuition increases ever require the program to pay out more money than it has available, the Legislature would be required by state law to provide funding to cover the shortfall. GET is a self-sustaining program and does not rely on general state budget funds. The unit price is carefully evaluated up to twice yearly to ensure that future college funds will always be there for families who have enrolled their children in GET.

6. What if I can't make my monthly payments? What are my options? +-

If you can no longer make payments on your Custom Monthly contract, you may have the option to 1) convert to a Lump Sum plan and end your monthly payments, 2) reduce the total number of units in your contract to lower your payment, 3) increase the number of years in your contract to lower your payment, or 4) close the account and request a refund. Please review our Refund and Cancellation policy, available on the forms page, or call us for details.

7. Are units the same as credits? +-

GET units are not the same as credit hours at a college, university or technical school. Credit hours have an academic value. Credits vary between schools and represent academic year or degree requirements (i.e. English 101 might be worth 4 credits). GET units have a dollar value. You purchase GET units at today’s price, and whenever your child attends college, the dollar value of your units will be based on tuition costs at that time, no matter how much they have increased. One unit = 1/100th of the actual resident, undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at Washington’s most expensive public university. You can use that money towards any qualified higher education costs (usually tuition, room and board, and books) at any qualified college, university or technical school in the country.

8. How many units should I buy? +-

You decide how many units to buy, from a minimum of one unit to a maximum of 600 units per child. You can even buy partial units in any amount. You can use up to 150 units each academic year. Any unused units from one year will automatically roll over to the next year.

The fact is that most college costs are covered by a combination of savings, part-time work, scholarships, loans and grants. It’s important to realize that whether you can afford 25 or 600 units, you are helping to make college dreams a reality for your child.

One hundred units will cover resident, undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees for a year at University of Washington or Washington State University. Fewer units may cover two years at a local community college. There are also other expenses to plan for, such as books, room and board, and supplies.

9. How is the unit price set? Why is it higher than the payout value? +-

The GET Committee sets the unit purchase price with the input of 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. 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, no matter how much it changes. This premium over current tuition ensures stability for the program. 
GET's guarantee ensures that the amount of tuition you buy will cover the same amount of in-state tuition in the future. While GET does not guarantee that you will make money, many risk averse savers with ample time to save take comfort in knowing what they have purchased in advance, without worrying about what happens with stock markets or in-state tuition costs in the future.

10. How do I use my GET units? +-

When your student is ready for college, we’ll send you information on how to use your units. You will complete a Direct Payment Request if you want GET to send money directly to the school, or a Reimbursement Request if you have paid college expenses from your own funds. Units must be held at least two years before use, and Custom Monthly Plans must be paid in full. As the account owner, you maintain control of your account and are the only one who can request account changes, distributions or a refund. Learn more on the Pay for School with GET page.

About the GET Program

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.

What is a 529 plan? +-

A state 529 plan is a college savings plan named for the section of the Internal Revenue code (Section 529) that defines these types of plans. Under this code, you contribute after-tax money and your money grows tax-free, and all withdrawals are tax-free, when used for tuition, room and board, and other qualified higher education expenses.

There are two types of state 529 plans: college savings plans and prepaid tuition plans. The difference lies in who chooses the investments and who assumes the risks.

  • College savings plan: You pick your investments and shoulder the investment risk. The value of your account is based on the performance of your investments. When it's time for college, you have whatever money is in your account.
  • Prepaid tuition plan (GET Program): You prepay for college tuition today for use in the future. The value of your account is guaranteed by the state to keep pace with resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive Washington public university. The state picks the investments and assumes all the investment risks.

Most states now have either a 529 college savings plan or a 529 prepaid college tuition plan, or both. Washington’s only current 529 plan is called Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) - a prepaid college tuition plan. However, the state plans to open a 529 college savings plan by early 2018.

Accounts in both types of plans receive favorable treatment for financial aid purposes by federal law. If the parent is the account owner, the account is considered an asset of the parent in determining a family's eligibility for federal financial aid. It is treated by the financial-aid formula at a much lower rate than student savings.

To learn more about 529 plans, visit the College Savings Plans Network website.

What makes GET different than any other investment/savings method? +-

First, the guarantee sets GET apart from any other investment because the value of a GET account is tied to tuition and state-mandated fees at the highest priced Washington public university. Because of this, families can be confident in knowing what their savings will get them in the future (e.g. if you buy 100 units today, you know that you will have one year of tuition and state-mandated fees covered at a Washington public university now and into the future, no matter how much tuition changes). Secondly, the earnings and withdrawals are tax-exempt when the money is used for higher education expenses.

What does the State of Washington guarantee? +-

The state guarantees that if you buy 100 units today, your 100 units will be worth the actual cost of one academic year of resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive Washington public university when your child enrolls in college, regardless of how much tuition has increased over time. You can buy any amount from one to 600 units per student and each unit will be worth 1/100th of that cost. This is called the “payout value” of a unit and it is determined annually. The monetary value remains the same whether you use your units to pay costs at a Washington public college or a private or out-of-state college.

The state guarantee is backed by the full faith and credit of the State of Washington. That means if future tuition increases ever require the program to pay out more money than it has available, the Legislature would be required by state law to provide funding to cover the shortfall. Washington's GET Program is one of only a few state prepaid college tuition plans in the country with a guarantee in state law (RCW 28B.95.050).

Can GET accounts be used only at Washington colleges? +-

You can use your GET units at nearly any public or private college, university or technical school in the United States and at selected colleges in other countries. A college is eligible if it participates in federal financial aid programs through the U.S. Department of Education. For a list of participating schools, visit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website.

Keep in mind that your GET units may not be enough to cover the full cost of tuition and fees at private or out-of-state colleges. If your school costs more, you pay the difference. If it costs less, you can use GET units to cover other higher education costs, such as room and board, books, etc. In addition, enrollment in the GET Program does not guarantee that your child will pay in-state resident tuition or be admitted to any college.

Do I have to pick a college when I enroll in the program? +-

No, you do not have to pick a college when you enroll. When your child is ready for college, we will provide you with information about how to use your account.

What is a unit? Is it the same as a credit hour? +-

GET units are not the same as credit hours at a college, university, or technical school. Credit hours represent the academic value of a particular class (e.g. your child might earn four credit hours for completing English 101 at his college). On the other hand, GET units are a financial measure and represent a way to pay for college. One hundred GET units are equal to the cost of an academic year of resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive Washington public university. Each GET unit is equal to 1/100 of that amount, and you can buy from one to 600 units per child.

Will GET accept US and foreign notaries? +-

Yes, GET accepts documents that have been notarized in the US or in a foreign nation. See RCW 42.44.150 for specific details.

Opening Your GET Account

How do I enroll in the GET Program? +-

It's easy to enroll in GET online or by mailing a paper form:

  • Online: Visit our GET Started page and click "Enroll Now" 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. You can find electronic copies of these documents on our forms page.

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.

Who can open a GET account? +-

You can open an account for anyone: your child, grandchild, niece or nephew, friend or even yourself. The only requirement is that either the student beneficiary OR the account owner be a Washington resident at the time of enrollment.Children of military personnel who claim Washington as their home of record also are eligible to participate in GET. Simply submit documentation of Washington residency when you enroll.

Once I've enrolled, what can I expect as a new participant? +-

The first thing you can expect is a "Welcome" email within 7 - 10 business days of your enrollment. It will advise you to log in to your account and review it for accuracy and to check for any alerts or messages about your new account. On a quarterly basis you will also receive an email advising you that your statement is online and ready to be viewed. Other email correspondence may arrive depending on the type of account you have, program updates and when your student will begin college. GET is moving toward a paperless environment, so email and online processes are preferred.

What if I move out-of-state after I open my account? +-

If you move out-of-state after opening your GET account, you can still make regular contributions and use your units for qualified higher education expenses. The value of your account will still be based on resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive Washington public university at the time you use your units, regardless of where your child attends college.

I'm expecting a baby. Can I open an account before my baby is born? +-

Yes, you can open an account during any annual enrollment period and list yourself as both the account owner and the student beneficiary. After the baby is born and has a Social Security number, simply fill out a Change of Student Beneficiary Form (no fee) to add your child to the account.

GET units make great baby shower gifts too!

I have a high school student. Does GET still make sense for them? +-

Most families who open GET accounts do so for younger children (e.g. grade school and younger). This is because the current GET unit purchase price is higher than the current unit payout value, and you may need to hold units for several years before the unit payout value exceeds the price you paid. Many families with children already in high school seek other options for their college savings, unless they plan to use GET for later years of college, or for graduate school. 

Who controls a GET account? +-

As the account owner, you maintain total control of your account and are the only one who can request account changes, distributions or a refund. The student beneficiary does not have any control over the account, unless he or she is also the account owner.

Why do I need to choose a payment plan? What are my options? +-

Picking a payment plan allows you to decide how much and how often you want to save. You have three options: (1) Lump Sum Plan, (2) Custom Monthly Plan, or (3) a combination of both.

  • The Lump Sum Plan is a “pay as you go" option. You buy units whenever you want. You can buy between one and 600 units per student. There is no monthly payment obligation and you don’t even have to buy whole units. The only time you are required to buy at least one unit is when you enroll. You are subject to the unit price increases (which may occur up to twice annually) because you pay whatever the current price is whenever you purchase units. In addition, you must hold your units in your account for at least two calendar years before you can use them.
  • The Custom Monthly Plan is a defined monthly payment plan. Your monthly payment remains the same throughout the term of your contract and includes a fixed 7.5 percent finance charge and a $1.54 payment processing fee.* You can buy between 50 and 600 units. You choose your payment period based on when you plan to begin using your units (up to 18 years in the future) and how much you want to save each month. You can save on finance charges by choosing a shorter payment term. You can pay a lesser amount each month by choosing a longer payment term, but you will be paying more in interest. To use your units, your plan must have been open for at least two calendar years and be paid in full.
  • Combination of Both. If you open a Custom Monthly Plan account, you can add Lump Sum units at any time. If you open a Lump Sum account, you can always add a Custom Monthly Plan later during any open enrollment period.

*The 7.5% finance charge is based on the total cost of contracted units and is compounded annually over the life of the contract. Finance charges have been factored into Custom Monthly Plan payment amounts and are not reduced if the contract is paid off early. Total finance charges may be reduced by shortening the term length or by reducing the number of units in the contract.

What if I want to set up a Custom Monthly Plan and buy Lump Sum units? +-

  • If you do not have a GET account, you can sign up for a Custom Monthly Plan account during our annual open enrollment period. Our Custom Monthly accounts are automatically set up to also accept Lump Sum purchases. If you use the paper enrollment form, please complete both areas of section 5 and include your payment for your Lump Sum purchase with the enrollment form.
  • If you already have a Custom Monthly Plan account, it's easy. Send us your payment for additional Lump Sum units and include your GET account number and a note telling us that you want to buy additional Lump Sum units. If you recently enrolled online, please include a copy of your enrollment summary.
  • If you already have a Lump Sum Plan account, you can add a Custom Monthly Plan to your account only during our annual enrollment period. The easiest way to start a Custom Monthly Plan is to complete a new enrollment during an open enrollment period. If you want to consolidate all of your units to one account later on, you can use the Transfer Request form to move units from one account to another. Please refer to the Payment Calculator for monthly payment options.

What if I suddenly can't make the monthly payment on my Custom Monthly Plan? +-

If you can no longer make the payments on your Custom Monthly contract, you have four options:

  1. Convert your Custom Monthly Plan to a Lump Sum Plan and end your monthly payments.
  2. Reduce the total number of units in your contract to lower your monthly payment.
  3. Increase the total number of years in your contract to lower your monthly payment. Please note that your contract must be paid in full before you can use your units.
  4. Close the account and request a refund. Please review our GET Refund and Cancellation policy or call us for details.

To make changes to your contract, please complete an Account Change Request form. To request a refund, please complete a Refund/Cancellation Request form.

Can I pay off my Custom Monthly Plan early? +-

You can pay off your Custom Monthly Plan early, although you won't automatically save on finance charges. The Custom Monthly Plan is not like a car loan where you can pay additional principal. However, there are other options available to save on finance charges if you are considering paying off your Custom Monthly Plan earlier than expected. Please call our Contact Center at 800.955.2318 for details.

If I sign up for a Custom Monthly Plan and later want to add more units, what are my options? +-

You have two options:

  • If you set up a Custom Monthly contract during a previous enrollment period, you would need to set up a second Custom Monthly contract during an open enrollment period. Your new contract would be priced at the new rate.
  • You can buy additional Lump Sum units at the new unit price in one purchase or through a series of smaller purchases. Each purchase would be based on the unit price in effect at the time of purchase.

If I have a Lump Sum Plan, how do I buy more units? Do I have to fill out another enrollment form? +-

You do not have to complete a new enrollment form to buy more Lump Sum units. You can send a payment for the purchase of additional units at any time. Just include your account number with the payment. Your payment can purchase whole or partial units.

How do I add a Custom Monthly Plan to a Lump Sum Plan account? +-

The easiest way to start a Custom Monthly Plan is to complete a new enrollment during an open enrollment period. If you want to consolidate all of your units to one account later on, you can use the Transfer Request form to move units from one account to another. Please refer to the Payment Calculator for monthly payment options. Your Custom Monthly Plan will be based on the rates of the current enrollment year and will include a fixed 7.5 percent finance charge and a $1.54 per month payment processing fee.

How do I change ownership on the account? +-

You may change the Account Owner on your GET account by completing the Account Owner Change form. The current Account Owner will designate a new Account Owner by returning the completed form with a notarized signature. Please mail the original form to GET Program, PO Box 43450, Olympia, WA 98504-3450.

Buying GET Units

How do I make a payment? +-

You have four options:

  • Automatic withdrawal. Complete the paper Automatic Withdrawal Authorization form or complete the form online by accessing your account with your Login ID and Password.
  • Payroll deduction. If your employer participates in GET Payroll Deduction, please complete a Payroll Deduction Authorization form and submit it to your payroll office.
  • Coupon book. If you prefer to send us your payments through the mail via paper check, you can request a coupon book that you can use to include with your payment. You can also request coupon books for authorized giftors on your account. Please make checks payable to GET and mail to: GET Program, P.O. Box 84824, Seattle, WA 98124-6124. You can also simply send us a check with the account number on it and a note requesting to purchase additional units. If you have a Custom Monthly Plan, tell us if you want the check to apply toward your monthly payments or to purchase additional Lump Sum units. For Lump Sum unit purchases, the current unit price always applies. Request a coupon book by calling 800.955.2318 or download generic payment coupons on the forms page
  • Online payments (coming soon). This option is commonly used by giftors who want to make a gift payment to your account. You can transfer money from your bank directly to your GET account through our electronic bank transfer system. US Bank charges a $1 transaction fee for this service. We will provide more information on this option soon.

How many units should I buy? +-

You decide how many units to buy, from a minimum of one unit to a maximum of 600 units per child. You can even buy partial units in any amount. You can use up to 150 units each academic year. Any unused units from one year will automatically roll over to the next year.

The fact is that most college costs are covered by a combination of savings, part-time work, scholarships, loans and grants. It’s important to realize that whether you can afford 25 or 600 units, you are helping to make college dreams a reality for your child.

One hundred units will cover resident, undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees for a year at University of Washington or Washington State University. Fewer units may cover two years at a local community college. There are also other expenses to plan for, such as books, room and board, and supplies.

Can more than one person contribute to my GET account? +-

Yes, anyone can contribute to your GET account. Buying units is a great gift idea for grandparents, other family members, and friends. You can name "giftors" who can contribute money to your account. It's easy to add someone to your account as a giftor by completing the Giftor Authorization form. You can complete this form by logging in to your GET account or by downloading the paper form from our Forms page. We'll send your giftor a coupon book. All gift payments to your account belong to you, the account owner. If you have a Custom Monthly Plan, we'll apply all contributions to your Custom Monthly account unless your giftor specifies that the money should be used to buy Lump Sum units.

Can I supplement my savings in GET through other types of investments? +-

Yes, saving with GET is an excellent foundation for your children's or grandchildren's future college expenses because it's guaranteed. Remember that with GET, you can purchase a maximum of 600 units per student. Many families who fully fund a GET account for their child will continue to save in other ways to help with additional college expenses.

Can I contribute to more than one type of 529 plan? +-

Yes. Contributing to more than one type of 529 plan is an excellent way to ensure more college expenses will be covered. Washington plans to open a new 529 college savings plan, called the DreamAhead College Investment Plan in early 2018, which works differently than GET, as investments are subject to stock market performance. Most other states also offer 529 college savings plans, and allow you to enroll even if you are not a resident of that state.

Can I buy GET units by transferring or rolling over money from other accounts? +-

You can make the following transfers or rollovers.

Please review IRS Publication 970 and the "Federal Tax Information" section of GET Program Details. We also encourage you to consult your tax advisor because these transactions may be taxable.

Acceptable Rollover Documentation Sample (1)

Acceptable Rollover Documentation Sample (2)

Can I buy GET units with funds from an existing UGMA or UTMA custodial account? +-

Funds invested in an UGMA or UTMA account (Uniform Gift to Minors Act/Uniform Transfer to Minors Act) belong to the minor. The custodian has a legal obligation to use the funds solely for the benefit of the minor. To maintain the proper ownership of these funds, a GET account must name the minor as both the account owner and the student beneficiary. You'll need to name a custodian or trustee to manage the account on the minor's behalf by using the Custodian Authorization form.

Once you set up your GET account, you can liquidate the UGMA or UTMA account and send the funds to the GET Program. Please consult your tax advisor because this transaction may be taxable. Finally, we recommend that you open a second GET account for additional contributions. You'll own the funds in this second account. The child will own all money in the first account (transferred UTMA/UGMA funds).

How is the GET unit price determined? +-

The GET Committee sets the unit purchase price with the input of 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. The GET Committee sets the unit price annually, and may adjust it once annually, if needed, to ensure financial stability for the program.

I bought units last year. Do I need to report anything on my federal income tax return? +-

If you made contributions to your account but did not make any withdrawals, you generally don't need to report anything on your federal income tax return. Your contributions are non-deductible. Please review IRS Publication 970 or consult a tax advisor for details.

How can I add, change or deactivate an automatic withdrawal? +-

If you are the Account Owner you may log in to your GET account online and click "Payment Options." On this screen you can add new one-time or recurring automatic withdrawals and you can delete current automatic withdrawals that you have already set up. When purchasing additional units, make sure you have enough time before you plan to use them. Units must be held two years and may need several years before the unit payout value exceeds the unit purchase price.

If you have a Custom Monthly Plan, any changes will need to be done at least two business days prior to the 15th of the month, or the payment will be withdrawn from the account as scheduled.

If you are a Giftor on a GET account, you will need to complete the Automatic Withdrawal Authorization form. Please mail original form to GET Program, PO Box 43450, Olympia, WA 98504-3450. We will need to receive the form at least a week prior to the regularly scheduled withdrawal to ensure enough time for processing.

Using My GET Units

How do I access my account when my child is ready to begin college? +-

In the spring before your student will begin college, we'll provide you with information about how to use your units. You, as the account owner, must initiate all distributions from your account.

When it's time for college, you'll need to choose your payment option. It's easy to use your units by logging in to your GET account, selecting "My Account," and looking for the "Use Units" section. To have GET send a payment directly to the school, you will submit a "Direct Payment Request." If you want to pay the school yourself and have GET reimburse you for the expenses paid out-of-pocket, you will complete a "Reimbursement Request." You can also request to use your units by completing the paper forms found on our Forms page under "Use Your Units."

For more details on using your units, visit our Pay for School page.

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 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 (available on the Forms page). There is a lifetime maximum of 600 units per student.
  • Change the student beneficiary to another family member by completing a Change of Student Beneficiary form (available on the Forms page).
  • Request a refund by completing a Refund/Cancellation Request form (available on the Forms page). This form must be notarized. Review our Refund and Cancellation policy (available on the Forms page) 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.

NOTE: There is a temporary policy change in effect that allows you to refund your account without the two-year hold requirement until 60 days after the 529 college savings plan opens. Learn more

How many units can I use each academic year? +-

You can use up to 150 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 $103.86.

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 2017-2018 academic year, the payout value of one GET unit is $103.86. Therefore, 100 units are worth $10,386. 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 with the input of 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. 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, no matter how much it changes. This premium over current tuition ensures stability for the program. 
GET's guarantee ensures that the amount of tuition you buy will cover the same amount of in-state tuition in the future. While GET does not guarantee that you will make money, many risk averse savers with ample time to save take comfort in knowing what they have purchased in advance, without worrying about what happens with stock markets or in-state tuition costs in the future.

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. 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. Generally, you cannot request reimbursement for tuition since Running Start tuition is subsidized by the State of Washington. However, in some situations, such as when a student takes more class credits than are subsidized (typically more than 15 credits per term), you may have some out-of-pocket tuition expenses that could be reimbursable. Please consult a tax advisor to be certain that your out-of-pocket Running Start expenses are considered qualified higher education expenses for 529 plans such as GET.

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 150 eligible units per academic year and any unused units from a previous year. For example, if you have 300 units and use 100 units in the first year, you could use 200 units in the second year (50 leftover units + 150 units = 200 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 (see "Tuition and fees" in RCW 28B.95.020) and are 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? +-

Typically, if a parent or dependent student is the Account Owner, the financial aid formula treats a GET account as a parental asset, which has a smaller impact on financial aid eligibility than an independent student's assets. If a non-parent (e.g. a grandparent) owns the GET account and makes distributions for the student, the financial aid formula may treat these distributions as student income and have greater impact on financial aid eligibility in the following year. You should consult your financial advisor or the financial aid office at your school to understand specifics related to your individual situation.

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 600 units per student.
  • Request a refund. You will need to complete a Refund and Cancellation Request form (available on the Forms page). Please review our Refund and Cancellation policy (available on the Forms page) for details.

How can I transfer units between family members? +-

You can only transfer units between qualifying family members' GET accounts (based on the IRS's definition of a family member). 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 on our forms page.

If you want to transfer all the units, you may simply change the name of the Student Beneficiary on the account by completing a Student Beneficiary Change form (available on our forms page). This form requires the Account Owner’s notarized signature. Please mail original forms to GET Program, PO BOX 43450, Olympia, WA 98504-3450.

Note that a student may have multiple accounts but may have a total of no more than 600 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 the student's 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. You can do this online by logging in to your GET account, selecting "My Account," looking for the "Use Units" section, and then completing a Reimbursement Request.

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.

Here is a list of schools that currently participate in this batch payment process: 

University of Washington Western Washington University Clark College
Washington State University Shoreline Community College Pierce College
Central Washington University South Puget Sound Community College Olympic College

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..."

Do GET units expire? +-

Yes, GET units do expire. Students have up to 10 years after their selected benefit use year to begin using the units their GET accounts. Once students begin using their units, they have an additional 10 years to finish using their units. If it appears that a student will not be able to use some or all of their units, there are options, including transferring the unused units to another family member, or requesting a refund. Be aware that refunds that are not used to pay for qualified higher education expenses are considered non-qualified withdrawals and any earnings may be subject to federal income tax and state and federal penalties.

How the College Affordability Program Affects GET Customers

I want to leave my GET account as is. Is there anything that I have to do? +-

The good news is, no, if you wish to keep all of your units in the GET program, you do not have to do anything further at this point.

I heard the GET program is closing for good and I have to refund my account. Is this true? +-

No, the GET Program is not closing. In fact, new legislation passed during the 2016 Legislative Session calls for GET to reopen later this year. The GET Committee is currently working on reopening plans for GET and is confident that the program will continue to be a great college savings resource for years to come. Please note that GET is not currently accepting new enrollments or new unit purchases until it officially reopens in 2017. Customers with Custom Monthly plans may continue to make their regular payments.

Did I hear that the GET Committee is considering offering a traditional 529 savings plan? +-

Yes, both the Legislature and the GET Committee have made a commitment to exploring options for Washington to offer a state-sponsored 529 college savings plan. In the 2016 session, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 6601, which established the Washington College Savings Program and gave the GET Committee formal authority to pursue developing a 529 college savings plan to offer alongside GET. The Committee is currently working to evaluate different product and plan structure options. If implemented, this new plan will expand the range of college savings options for Washington families. Investors will be able to choose between participating in the existing GET program, or the new savings plan, based on their family's individual goals and needs; or they can choose to participate in both plans. It’s important to know that the funding and accounting for any new 529 plan will be separate from GET (i.e. the funds will not be comingled).

Amortization Refunds

How do I know if I will receive an automatic amortization refund and what do I need to do? +-

All customers who purchased any units at unit prices of $163 and/or $172 should have received an automatic amortization refund in February or March 2016. These automatic refunds came in the form of a check to the GET Account Owner, sent to the mailing address that we have on file for the account. The refund amount will be based on the year the units were purchased and the total number of units purchased at $163 or $172.

Note that several adjustments were made to Custom Monthly Plans that were locked in at a purchase price of $163 per unit or greater. Here is an overview of how these accounts were adjusted:

  1. Refinanced Custom Monthly Plan contracts based on an adjusted unit price (the original unit price paid minus the amortization amount). The reduced principal and total finance charges that customers pay over the life of the Custom Monthly contract results in a lower monthly payment amount.
  2. Calculated each customer's refund amount based on the difference between the original monthly payment and the new, lower monthly payment. This difference was multiplied by the number of payments made to date on the Custom Monthly contract to determine the total refund amount.
  3. Sent a refund check for this amount to customers, as well as information on how to view their revised monthly payment amount. Customers who used coupons with their former payments can also expect to receive new coupon books with the updated monthly payment amount indicated.

The refund amount per unit is listed below, which is directly correlated to the original amortization amount paid per unit:

Year Units Purchased

Refund Amount Per Unit

2011-2012

$18.70

2012-2013

$19.73

2013-2014

$20.82

2014-2015

$20.82

Note: Customers who fully refunded their accounts before the automated amortization refunds were processed received their amortization refund as part of their total refund. They did not receive a separate amortization refund check later on. However, any account refunds processed after the amortization refunds have been sent out should have received two separate checks: one for the amortization amount, and one for their remaining account balance, minus the amortization refund amount.

When can I expect to receive my amortization refund? +-

GET issued all amortization refunds by the end of February 2016. If you believe that you are entitled to an amortization refund, and did not receive a check from GET, please call our Contact Center at 1.800.955.2318.

Why couldn't my amortization refund have gone towards purchasing more units instead of being refunded to me? +-

Since there is no unit price at this time and GET is not open for new enrollments or unit purchases, we were unable to credit your account for more units. Once GET reopens for new unit purchases (later in 2017), you can use your amortization refund to purchase more units.

Refunding a GET Account

How do I request a refund? +-

If you choose to request a refund of your GET account(s), you must first review the GET Refund/Cancellation Policy, and then complete a GET Refund/Cancellation Request form for each account being refunded. Links to these documents can be found on the 'Forms' page:

Please note:

  • Please carefully read all directions in the GET Refund/Cancellation Policy and Refund/Cancellation Request form. GET can only accept original, fully completed, notarized refund forms (refunds cannot be requested online or over the phone). The form can be mailed or physically delivered to the GET office. We do not accept copies or faxed or emailed Refund/Cancelation Request forms. Any errors in completing and submitting the refund form may significantly delay the process of completing your refund.
  • The non-refundable enrollment fee and any previously incurred account fees, such as late payment fees and NSF charges, will not be included in final refund amounts.
  • The earnings portion of any refund may still be subject to IRS taxes and penalties. For example, any increased value may be taxed as income and an additional 10% penalty may apply.
    If you take a refund, a 1099-Q tax form will be sent to you that shows the principal and earnings portions of your refund. You may be required to report this information to the IRS.
  • To avoid a taxable event, you may deposit your refund into another 529 plan within 60 days of the date your refund is processed. To compare various 529 plans, go to www.collegesavings.orgNote that, per IRS regulations, 529 plan rollovers can only be performed once every 12 months.
  • We strongly advise you to consult IRS PUBLICATION 970 and a tax advisor about potential tax implications.

It may take up to 6 weeks to process your refund from the time that GET receives your request.

If I paid more for my units than the current unit payout value of $117.82, can I just get a refund for the difference between the price I paid and the payout value? +-

If you paid more than the current unit payout value of $117.82, you can request a full refund of your contributions. However, we are unable to simply give you the difference between the price you paid and the current payout value, as there is no unit purchase price at this time. Keep in mind that if you are interested in keeping any units purchased at $163 or $172 in your account, you have received the automatic amortization refund, which effectively made these unit purchase prices lower (by approximately $18-20/unit depending on the year you purchased your units).

How long will it take to get my refund? +-

We estimate that it will take up to 6 weeks for you to receive your refund, once we receive your Refund/Cancellation Request form (on the forms page).

What if I have a Custom Monthly Plan where the unit price was less than $117.82, but after paying financing charges, I effectively paid more than $117.82/unit? +-

If you request to refund your Custom Monthly Plan that is paid in full, we will determine if you paid more or less than the current payout value, after factoring in the monthly financing charges. If you paid more than the current unit payout value of $117.82, you will receive back your contributions. If you paid less, you will receive the current unit payout value.

Keep in mind that if you make a distribution from your account to pay for school after August 1, 2017 (the day the rebasing will occur), all future refunds and distributions would be at the payout value, and you will no longer be able to request a contribution refund for your account.​

I have a Custom Monthly Plan that is not paid in full. Can I request a refund? +-

Yes, all GET Account Owners have the option to request a refund. For Custom Monthly accounts that are not yet paid in full, we first convert the account to a Lump Sum plan before processing the refund. This means that each monthly payment you have made will apply towards the purchase of Lump Sum units at the unit price that was in effect when each monthly payment was made. You will receive a refund at the current payout value of $117.82/unit for all payments made on or before April 30, 2011 (the last date that units cost less than the current payout value), and a refund of your contributions for all payments made after that date. The original $50 enrollment fee and any previously incurred late payment or dishonored payment fees are not included in the total refund amount, as they are non-refundable fees.

Keep in mind that if you make a distribution from your account to pay for school after August 1, 2017 (the day the rebasing will occur), all future refunds and distributions would be at the payout value, and you will no longer be able to request a contribution refund for your account.

If I plan to request a refund of my Custom Monthly Plan that I am still making payments on, do I have to keep making my monthly payments? +-

If you wish to refund your Custom Monthly Plan, and it is not yet paid in full, we first recommend that you call our Contact Center at 1.800.955.2318. They can put your account on hold so you will not receive late payment charges while your refund is being processed.

Potential Tax Implications and Rollover Information for Refunds

Do I need to report my refund to the IRS? Will I be taxed? +-

This answer depends on your situation. If you have made money in your GET account, and request a refund, you will be issued a 1099-Q tax form the following January that shows the earnings and principal portions of your withdrawal. If you do not use your funds to cover qualified higher education expenses incurred in the same calendar year, your account earnings may be subject to a 10% IRS penalty and will be taxed as ordinary income. It is our understanding that you will not be subject to these penalties if you rollover your funds into another qualified 529 plan within 60 days of the date that your refund is processed. Note that, per IRS regulations, 529 plan rollovers can only be performed once every 12 months.

If your refund is for contributions only, and does not include any gains, you will not receive a 1099-Q tax form and should not need to report your refund to the IRS. Please note, this means all amortization refunds will not receive a 1099-Q form.

Note that we always recommend consulting IRS Publication 970, a tax professional and/or financial adviser to fully understand any potential tax implications before requesting a refund of your account.

Can GET directly rollover my GET funds to another 529 plan? +-

You can initiate a direct rollover of your GET funds to another 529 plan only if you are fully refunding your account. To perform a direct rollover from GET to another 529 plan, you will first need to establish the new 529 account, then complete the Outgoing Rollover Request form (on the Forms page). The Account Owner and Student Beneficiary must be the same for both the GET account, and the 529 account that you are rolling your GET funds into. If you intend to transfer funds from one beneficiary to another, or from one Account Owner to another, you must do this prior to initiating the rollover, or once the rollover is complete. If you intend to transfer funds or change the beneficiary or Account Owner after the rollover, be sure you understand the other 529 plans' rules around this process prior to rolling over your GET funds. 

You can also perform an indirect rollover by requesting a refund and re-depositing your funds into a qualified 529 plan within 60 days. It is our understanding, per IRS Publication 970, that by doing this you will avoid tax consequences. Note that, per IRS regulations, 529 plan rollovers can only be performed once every 12 months. Here is a link to Publication 970, which describes these rollover considerations (see p. 61): http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf.

Note that we always recommend consulting IRS Publication 970, a tax professional and/or financial adviser to fully understand any potential tax implications before requesting a refund of your account.

My other 529 plan requires a principal and earnings statement in order to deposit my GET funds. How can I access this? +-

Once your refund is processed, you can download a principal and earnings statement from your online GET account. To do this, click “More Info” under the “Use Units” section of the “My Account” dashboard. Once on the “Use Units” page, you will see a record of your refund request and a yellow button to generate a PDF of your principal and earnings statement.