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GET Enrollment GuideGET Enrollment Guide

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 U.S.; for certain apprenticeship program expenses; 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 check if a school is an eligible institution, use the Federal School Code Search tool on the FAFSA website. To look for registered apprenticeship programs, The Department of Labor provides a search tool on their website.

2 - What if my student gets a scholarship?

You have several options. If your student’s scholarship covers tuition and fees, you can use GET units to pay for room and board, books, or other qualified higher education expenses. GET funds can be used to pay for graduate school or repay student loans. If your student doesn’t need the funds, you can transfer units to a family member, roll unused funds into a Roth IRA, or request a refund. Always consult a financial or tax advisor about your personal circumstances.

3 - How will GET savings affect our financial aid?

As with any 529 plan, GET savings can impact financial aid eligibility - however, the impact is typically small. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) assesses parent or dependent student owned 529 accounts at about 5.64 percent of the value when calculating the Student Aid Index (SAI). Accounts owned by other parties have different (and in some cases no) impacts. For more specifics consult studentaid.gov or a financial or tax advisor.  

4 - Can I make recurring monthly payments to my Lump Sum account?

Yes, you can set up automatic monthly payments. Remember, units must be held for two calendar years before they are eligible for use. It is also important to consider that the unit price is subject to change each year after June 30 (the payment deadline is June 25 to guarantee current pricing). Keep these considerations in mind and make sure to adjust your recurring payment settings in the future to ensure you stay on track with your savings goals. 

5 - What if my student does not continue their education after high school?

You have several options. Students have up to ten years after their benefit use year to begin using their GET account. Many students who aren’t ready for post-high school education or training upon high school graduation later change their minds.  If your student doesn’t need the funds, you can change the student beneficiary on your account, transfer units to another family member, roll unused funds into a Roth IRA, or request a refund. Review the Program Details Booklet for more details and always consult a financial or tax advisor about your personal circumstances.

6 - How do I know GET is safe?

The state guarantees that if you buy one unit today, it will be worth 1/100th of an academic year of future tuition and state-mandated fees at Washington’s highest-priced public university. 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 (RCW 28B.95.050). GET is self-sustaining and does not rely on general state funds. We carefully evaluate the unit price up to twice annually to ensure that future college funds will always be there for GET families. Note that GET does not guarantee that you will make money. If tuition at Washington State’s highest priced public university decreases, the monetary value of your units may decrease.   

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 an academic year or degree requirements. GET units have a dollar value. You buy GET units at a set price today and whenever your student attends college, the dollar value of your units will be based on tuition costs at that time, no matter how much they have changed. One unit equals 1/100th of the actual cost of resident, undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at Washington’s most expensive public university.

8 - How is the unit purchase price set? Is it different than the payout value?

The WA529 Committee sets the unit purchase price with the input of 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 investment returns or higher-than-expected tuition growth. The Committee sets the unit price annually, and may adjust it once annually, if needed, to ensure financial stability for the program. To learn more about how The Committee sets the unit purchase price, please see the GET Program Details Booklet.

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. 

In recent years, the GET purchase price has matched the payout value, creating a great opportunity to buy future tuition at this year’s price. Keep in mind that historically, the GET unit purchase price has included a premium over that year’s payout value and could again include a premium in future years. This premium can be necessary to ensure long term stability for the program. To help ensure future GET unit purchase prices remain affordable, in 2021, the Legislature enacted a new law that limits the annual GET unit purchase price to no more than 10% above that year’s payout value. 

9 - How do I use my GET units?

When your student is ready for college or career readiness training, 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. You must hold your units for at least two years before using them. As the account owner, you maintain control of your account and are the only one who can request account changes, distributions or a refund. 

10 - How is GET different from DreamAhead?

In addition to GET, Washington offers another 529 plan called the DreamAhead College Investment Plan. Families who save with GET can also save with DreamAhead to diversify their education savings portfolio. 

As a 529 plan, DreamAhead features the same federal tax benefits as GET. Other DreamAhead features, however, are much different. Unlike GET, DreamAhead is an investment-based 529 plan, so a participant’s savings growth is tied to financial market performance. DreamAhead investors have multiple investment choices with varied degrees of customization and risk. Investment options include portfolios that automatically adjust as a student grows up and fixed portfolios that let participants choose their risk tolerance. DreamAhead is open for enrollment year-round. To learn more about DreamAhead click here.  

GET enrollment is currently closed and will reopen November 1. 

  

 Learn More at the links below.

How GET WorkssavUse GET for a Variety of College CostsExplore Your Saving Options
GET Makes a Great Gifttopplanning toolsEnroll Now

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Questions about your GET or DreamAhead account? Contact Center representatives are available to help by phone, email or video conference.
Please see our Contact Us page for details, hours, and additional information. 

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