How GET Works
The GET Program is Washington's 529 prepaid college tuition plan that helps families with young children save for future higher education expenses. The program is currently closed to new unit sales in response to the College Affordability Act, which lowered to tuition at Washington’s public higher education institution.
This temporary closure to new unit sales is designed and implemented to ensure GET customers are protected pending potential changes to the program. GET is currently conducting a legislatively mandated feasibility study to evaluate future options for the program. More specifically, the feasibility study is intended to answer the following questions:
- How does GET continue to protect customer account values after two-year payout value is unfrozen?
- What is the impact of decreasing tuition rates on GET’s funded status and future unit price?
- What are some alternatives and impacts for changing the program’s distribution policy from tuition and fees to a cost of attendance metric?
- What is the feasibility and impact of establishing a 529 college savings plan?
- What are some potential alternatives and impacts for whether the state penalty for withdrawal should be changed?
Answers to these questions must be researched and developed by December 1, 2016 and will be presented to the Legislative Fiscal and Higher Education Committees. It is important the program has answers to these questions before it considers selling new units.
What does lower tuition mean for students today?
- This historic event will make college more affordable and accessible for more Washington families and current students.
- More specifically, tuition will be reduced at the state’s two research institutions (UW & WSU) by five percent in the 2015-16 academic year and by another ten percent in the 2016-17 academic year for a total two year reduction of 15 percent. This is important because these are the two institutions for which GET’s payout value is based upon.
- In addition to the tuition reductions noted above, the College Affordability Act also reduces tuition by 20% over the next two years at the state’s regional institutions (CWU, EWU, WWU and The Evergreen State College) and 5% in 2015-16 academic year at the state’s community and technical colleges.
- The legislation goes on to say that beginning in the 2017-18 academic year, tuition operating fees for resident undergraduates at community and technical colleges, may increase by no more than the state’s average annual growth rate in median hourly wage as determined by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
How will this impact my student if they are needing to use their units in the next two years?
In response to lower tuition, the legislation states that for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years, the GET Committee shall set the payout value for units redeemed at the 2014-15 rate of $117.82 per unit.
What happens to the value of my account if I am not going to use my units in the next two years? Will I lose money?
- Beginning in the 2017-18 academic year, the GET Committee is required to make the necessary program adjustments to ensure GET customer accounts are not decreased or diluted as a result of lower tuition. This may include a cash refund, additional units, a minimum payout value, or another solution that is deemed appropriate. Part of a feasibility study the program will be conducting during the next 18 months is to develop a resolution to this issue.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as the GET Committee works through all of the significant issues related to the College Affordability Act. Please know that the GET Committee’s number one priority is the best interests of our customers. That priority necessitates that thoughtful, professional, and well-grounded decisions are made on your behalf. As information and more details become available, we will be sure to share updates with you.