Families looking for a safe and convenient way to save for college have through May 31 to enroll in Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition Program (GET). Thousands of parents continue to choose the security of the state guarantee and GET’s flexible, tax-advantaged options for saving. After May 31, enrollment will be closed until the fall, when it will reopen at a higher price.
More than 147,000 accounts have been opened since the program began in 1998. Over 30,000 students have already used their GET accounts to attend colleges in all 50 states and 14 foreign countries. GET accounts can be used to attend almost any public or private college, university, or vocational school in the country. As a 529 plan, GET offers tax-free growth and withdrawals when used for qualified higher education expenses.
The cost of one GET unit today is $172. The future value of 100 units is equal to one year of resident, undergraduate tuition and required state fees at the highest-priced Washington public university (UW or WSU), no matter how much tuition increases. Families can buy any amount from 1 to 500 units per student, though the average GET account holds just under 200 units. Betty Lochner, Director of the GET Program, encourages families to save an amount that fits best within their budget. “The important part is to start saving as early as possible,” she said, “and then have a plan to contribute regularly as your child grows. You’ll find that even small amounts add up over time.”
"With college costs so high, GET is a very good option, especially for families with young children. Parents who start early have the opportunity to save literally thousands of dollars on the future cost of tuition," she said. “Remember, it’s not just about what GET costs today, it’s what those savings will be worth in the future.”
GET also makes it easy for family and friends to contribute to a child’s college savings. Gifts can be made to existing accounts, and anyone can open an account for a child. Approximately 14% of new accounts are opened by a child’s grandparents or other non-parent relatives.
GET's website at get.wa.gov offers details, charts, planning tools and answers for many of the questions families have about the program. Most accounts are opened online, and Customer Service staff is available at (800) 955-2318 to help families with any additional information they may need.