Confused about Washington State’s GET Program Changes?

Blog Author Robert Hoffman

Written by: Robert Hoffman

Published: October 6, 2015

Found in: Investing

One of my clients forwarded me a letter she'd received from the GET program she's been diligently contributing to for many years. She was confused and upset because it doesn't appear things are going to work out for her children's education as she had planned. She sent me the letter because she didn't know what to do and what her next steps are.

GET is Washington State's 529 prepaid college tuition program, which is guaranteed by the state to keep pace with tuition increases at Washington's highest-priced public university. In addition to being accepted by colleges in Washington, GET accounts are accepted for payment by nearly all public and private colleges, universities and technical schools across the country (and even some foreign countries).  

The GET committee met due to the Legislature enacting the College Affordability Act, which lowers the cost of tuition at Washington's public colleges and universities. This new legislation affects some of the assumptions that the GET pricing and payout models have been historically based upon. While the GET Committee is confident the program will continue to be a great college savings resource for years to come, they understand some customers may wish to seek other options. In response to this, the GET Committee passed three motions:  

  1. Based on the recent passage of the College Affordability Act, effective September 2, 2015 the payout value for the GET program will remain $117.82 per unit until the time when one year of resident undergraduate tuition and state mandated fees at Washington State’s highest priced public university surpasses $11,782.00.
  2. Based on the recent passage of the College Affordability Act, effective September 2, 2015 and through December 15, 2016, the GET program will waive all state program refund fees and the two-year hold requirement for all account owners.  
  3. Based on the recent passage of the College Affordability Act, effective September 2, 2015 and through December 15, 2016, the GET program permit account owners to receive a refund of their contributions or the payout value, whichever is greater.  

What does this mean? Functionally, the program is in stasis due to the College Affordability Act. It will not be accepting new contributions or additional funds (with some exceptions) for the next two years and does not offer the advantages it once did for college savings. That does not mean you are without options. If you have been investing in the GET program, like my client, you have the opportunity to move your funds to another 529 provider. If you want to start contributing for your child's education, you may need to consider other options for your education savings other than the GET 529 Plan. WSECU Investment Management has multiple advisors available to guide you with your planning. Visit our Investments page or call us at 800.456.3152. We're here to help!  

Robert Hoffman  

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