Top 10 FAQs
The Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions About GET (view video)
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, click here.
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 500 unit maximum). You can request a refund (see our Refund and Cancellation policy 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 it 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 child chooses not to go to college?
You have several options. Your student has up to ten years after his selected benefit use year to begin using his 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 500 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 for details.
5. How do I know it's safe?
GET is one of only five state 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 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? Can I get a refund?
If you can no longer make payments on your Custom Monthly contract, you 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 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 500 units per child. You can even buy partial units in any amount. You can use up to 125 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 and grants. It’s important to realize that whether you can afford 100 or 500 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. GET makes a solid foundation for your college savings plan, because it’s guaranteed.
9. How is the unit price set? Why is it higher than the payout value?
The GET Committee sets the unit purchases 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 of 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 I it doubles or triples in price. This premium over current tuition ensures stability for the Program.
It will take about six years to realize a gain on your investment (more if using a Custom Monthly Plan), but GET’s increase in value is steady and guaranteed over the years. GET is a self-sustaining program and receives no ongoing state appropriations.
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.