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GET Program Returns to Fully Funded Status

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There is no doubt that education is the key to unlocking the door to opportunity. Throughout the past several years, new research continues to provide supportive evidence that a college degree not only increases the economic earning power of both individuals and our state economy, but it’s also proven to contribute to improved health and other social benefits such as increased homeownership, voting rates, and community volunteerism.

While there is no denying that the cost of a college education has increased dramatically over the past two decades, the citizens of Washington state continue to display their growing value of a college degree by saving more of their hard-earned dollars for their children’s future higher education expenses. In fact, since 1999, Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program has paid more than a half billion dollars in higher education expenses on behalf of more than 37,000 students.

funded status calloutThe GET program now manages more than 157,000 college savings accounts that are valued at close to $3 billion. Just recently, the State Actuary, Matt Smith, announced that the program’s funded status is 106 percent and it is expected to meet all of its financial obligations for current enrollees.

The financial health of the program has definitely improved over the past few years. Last year, the program enhanced its solvency report card grade from a “B” to an “A” rating and this year the program surpassed its 2021 projected funded status (seven years earlier than expected). The positive change in the program’s funded status is due primarily to strong investment returns and the fact that tuition did not increase at the state’s universities for the second straight year.

Having tuition continue to remain flat is a huge reprieve for Washington families who experienced double-digit tuition growth from 2009 to 2013. Over the past 10 years, tuition has increased an average of 8.6 percent per year, which has contributed to the growth in student debt that is now valued at more than $1.2 trillion nationally.

Ultimately, our goal as an organization is to switch the personal finance of higher education from a debt-driven model to a savings-driven model so that when a student completes their degree, they have the financial freedom to pursue their dreams and take an active role in contributing to our state’s economy and communities.

We strive to accomplish this goal every day by offering Washington families incentives, tools, and resources to help them save, make wise investment decisions, and to make it as easy as possible to make regular contributions to their accounts. By providing these resources to families, their children will be better positioned to continue to grow and prosper in their academic pursuits.

Written by Betty Lochner, GET Program Director

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