Enrollment opens November 1 for Washington’s GET Program

Saturday, October 26, 2013

When today’s newborn graduates from high school, tuition for a 4-year degree at our state’s top public university is projected to be over $146,000. With GET, Washington’s 529 prepaid tuition plan, the money families set aside for college is guaranteed to keep up with rising tuition.

That state guarantee is an important reason many of GET’s 152,000 account owners chose the program over other college savings options. GET is not dependent on the ups and downs of the market, so it takes the uncertainty out of knowing whether you’ll have saved enough.

Other reasons are that GET is a 529 plan, so accounts grow tax-free and all withdrawals are tax-free when used for tuition, housing and other qualified college expenses. If the student gets a scholarship or decides not to go to college, the account owner can wait up to ten years, transfer the funds to another family member or request a refund. And, the account owner always retains control of the account.

The biggest challenge is often just getting started. Betty Lochner, Director of the GET Program, encourages families to start saving early for college, to choose a plan and an amount to save that fits within their budget. “The important part is to start when your kids are young and then keep contributing as they grow,” she said. “College may seem like a long way off, but it will be here in the blink of an eye.”

“It can be hard to plan ahead when kids are young – life is busy and money can be tight,” said Lochner. “We hope families will look for those little opportunities to trim their budgets and add the difference to their savings. Whether it’s spending less each month on eating out, taking public transit or carpooling, these are things families can do that add up to big savings in the future.”

Tips to GET started:

  • Go to GET to enroll online or download an enrollment form. Enrollment is open November 1, 2013 – May 31, 2014.
  • One hundred GET units are equal to one year of resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the UW or WSU. Remember that less expensive colleges require fewer units. More expensive private or out-of-state colleges require more units so families pay the difference. The payout value of each unit is the same no matter where it is used.
  • Families can buy from 1 to 500 units for each student. The current unit price is $172.
  • Accounts can be used at nearly any public or private college, university or technical school in the country.
  • The student or account owner must be a Washington resident at the time of enrollment in GET.

It’s also easy for family and friends to contribute to a child’s college savings. Gifts can be made to existing accounts, and anyone can start a GET account for a child. Approximately 14% of new accounts are opened by a child’s grandparents or other non-parent relatives.

GET's website has details, charts, planning tools and answers to common questions families have about the program. Accounts can be opened online, and Customer Service is ready to help at 800-955-2318.


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