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Top Ten FAQs

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 United States 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 view the hundreds of participating schools, visit the FAFSA website.

Your GET units may not be enough to cover the full cost of tuition and fees at private or out-of-state colleges. If your school costs more than University of Washington or Washington State University, you pay the difference. If it costs less, you can also use GET units to pay other higher education costs such as room and board, books, etc.

2. What if my child gets a scholarship? +-

You have several options. If your child's scholarship covers tuition and fees, you can use your GET units to pay for room and board, books, or other qualified higher education expenses. You can transfer the account, in whole or in part, to another family member (as long as you don't exceed the 500 unit maximum). You can request a refund (see our Refund and Cancellation policy for details). You can also wait up to ten years to see if your child may want to apply GET account funds toward graduate school.

3. How will a GET account affect my financial aid? +-

If the parent or dependent student is the Account Owner, GET is considered an asset of the parent and treated more favorably than assets of a non-dependent student when determining eligibility for financial aid. Distributions from GET accounts owned by non-parents may be treated as student income the following year and have greater impact. You may want to consult your financial advisor or the financial aid office at your school

4. What if my child chooses not to go to college? +-

You have several options. Your student has up to ten years after his or her selected benefit use year to begin using the GET account. Many students who aren't ready for college upon graduation change their minds. You can transfer funds in the account to another family member with an existing account (as long as you don't exceed the 500 unit maximum), or change the student beneficiary on the entire account to another family member. You can request a refund as well, though you will need to pay taxes on any increase in value as well as a refund penalty. Please review our Refund and Cancellation policy for details.

5. How do I know it's safe? +-

GET is one of only four state-sponsored prepaid college tuition plans in the country with a guarantee in state law (RCW 28B.95.050). The state guarantees that 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. GET is a self-sustaining program and does not rely on general state budget funds. The unit price is carefully evaluated twice yearly to ensure that future college funds will always be there for families who have enrolled their children in GET.

6. What if I can't make my monthly payments? What are my options? +-

If you can no longer make payments on your Custom Monthly contract, you may have the option to 1) convert to a Lump Sum plan and end your monthly payments, 2) reduce the total number of units in your contract to lower your payment, 3) increase the number of years in your contract to lower your payment, or 4) close the account and request a refund. Please review our Refund and Cancellation policy or call us for details.

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 academic year or degree requirements (i.e. English 101 might be worth 4 credits). GET units have a dollar value. You purchase GET units at today’s price, and whenever your child attends college, the dollar value of your units will be based on tuition costs at that time, no matter how much they have increased. One unit = 1/100th of the actual resident, undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at Washington’s most expensive public university. You can use that money towards any qualified higher education costs (usually tuition, room and board, and books) at any qualified college, university or technical school in the country.

8. How many units should I buy? +-

You decide how many units to buy, from a minimum of one unit to a maximum of 500 units per child. You can even buy partial units in any amount. You can use up to 125 units each academic year. Any unused units from one year will automatically roll over to the next year.

The fact is that most college costs are covered by a combination of savings, part-time work, scholarships, loans and grants. It’s important to realize that whether you can afford 100 or 500 units, you are helping to make college dreams a reality for your child.

One hundred units will cover resident, undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees for a year at University of Washington or Washington State University. Fewer units may cover two years at a local community college. There are also other expenses to plan for, such as books, room and board, and supplies.

9. How is the unit price set? Why is it higher than the payout value? +-

The GET Committee sets the unit purchase price based on 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 returns or higher-than-expected tuition, and amortization of past losses. The GET Committee sets the unit price annually, and may adjust it once annually, if needed, to ensure financial stability for the program.

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.

Today’s unit purchase price is higher than the current payout value because the state guarantees your GET account will keep pace with tuition in the future, even if it doubles or triples in price. This premium over current tuition ensures stability for the program.

It will take at least six years to realize a gain on your investment (more if using a Custom Monthly Plan), but GET’s guarantee ensures the money you save will be there in the future. GET is a self-sustaining program and receives no ongoing state appropriations.

10. How do I use my GET units? +-

When your student is ready for college, 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. Units must be held at least two years before use, and Custom Monthly Plans must be paid in full. As the account owner, you maintain control of your account and are the only one who can request account changes, distributions or a refund.

About the GET Program

What is GET? +-

GET is Washington state's 529 prepaid college tuition program. It is governed by federal IRS rules and Washington State law (RCW 28B.95). With GET, you save money by prepaying part or all of your child’s college tuition costs now, to avoid paying higher costs in the future. The State of Washington guarantees that the value of your account will keep pace with the cost of resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive public university in Washington (typically the University of Washington or Washington State University). Although the value of your account is determined by tuition costs at UW or WSU, you can use your account nationwide at practically any public or private college, university or vocational school, and the monetary value remains the same.

What is a 529 plan? +-

A state 529 plan is a college savings plan named for the section of the Internal Revenue code (Section 529) that defines these types of plans. Under this code, you contribute after-tax money and your money grows tax-free, and all withdrawals are tax-free, when used for tuition, room and board, and other qualified higher education expenses.

There are two types of state 529 plans: college savings plans and prepaid tuition plans. The difference lies in who chooses the investments and who assumes the risks.

  • College savings plan: You pick your investments and shoulder all of the investment risk. The value of your account is based on the performance of your investments. When it's time for college, you have whatever money is in your account.
  • Prepaid tuition plan (GET Program): You prepay for college tuition today for use in the future. The value of your account is guaranteed by the state to keep pace with resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive Washington public university. The state picks the investments and assumes all the investment risks.

Most states now have either a 529 college savings plan or a 529 prepaid college tuition plan, or both. Washington’s only 529 plan is called Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) - a prepaid college tuition plan.

Accounts in both types of plans receive favorable treatment for financial aid purposes by federal law. If the parent is the account owner, the account is considered an asset of the parent in determining a family's eligibility for federal financial aid. It is treated by the financial-aid formula at a much lower rate than student savings.

To learn more about 529 plans, visit the College Savings Plans Network website.

What makes GET different than any other investment/savings method? +-

First, the guarantee sets GET apart from any other investment because the value of a GET account is tied to tuition increases at the highest priced Washington public university. Because of this, families can be confident in knowing what their savings will get them in the future (e.g. if you buy 100 units today, you know that you will have one year of tuition and state-mandated fees covered at a Washington public university now and into the future, no matter how much tuition increases). Secondly, the earnings and withdrawals are tax-exempt when the money is used for higher education expenses.

What does the State of Washington guarantee? +-

The state guarantees that if you buy 100 units today, your 100 units will be worth the actual cost of one academic year of resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive Washington public university when your child enrolls in college, regardless of how much tuition has increased over time. You can buy any amount from one to 500 units per student and each unit will be worth 1/100th of that cost. This is called the “payout value” of a unit and it is determined annually. The monetary value remains the same whether you use your units to pay costs at a Washington public college or a private or out-of-state college.

The state guarantee is backed by the full faith and credit of the State of Washington. That means 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. Washington's GET Program is one of only a few state prepaid college tuition plans in the country with a guarantee in state law (RCW 28B.95.050).

Can GET accounts be used only at Washington colleges? +-

You can use your GET units at nearly any public or private college, university or technical school in the United States 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. For a list of participating schools, visit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website.

Keep in mind that your GET units may not be enough to cover the full cost of tuition and fees at private or out-of-state colleges. If your school costs more, you pay the difference. If it costs less, you can use GET units to cover other higher education costs, such as room and board, books, etc. In addition, enrollment in the GET Program does not guarantee that your child will pay in-state resident tuition or be admitted to any college.

Do I have to pick a college when I enroll in the program? +-

No, you do not have to pick a college when you enroll. When your child is ready for college, we will provide you with information about how to use your account.

What is a unit? Is it the same as a credit hour? +-

GET units are not the same as credit hours at a college, university, or technical school. Credit hours represent the academic value of a particular class (e.g. your child might earn four credit hours for completing English 101 at his college). On the other hand, GET units are a financial measure and represent a way to pay for college. One hundred GET units are equal to the cost of an academic year of resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive Washington public university. Each GET unit is equal to 1/100 of that amount, and you can buy from one to 500 units per child.

Will GET accept US and foreign notaries? +-

Yes, GET accepts documents that have been notarized in the US or in a foreign nation. See RCW 42.44.150 for specific details.

Opening Your GET Account

How do I enroll in the GET Program? +-

It's easy to enroll in GET online or by mailing a paper form:

If you have any questions about the enrollment process you can get most of the information from our website or call or email our Contact Center at 800.955.2318 or GETInfo@wsac.wa.gov.

Who can open a GET account? +-

You can open an account for anyone: your child, grandchild, niece or nephew, friend or even yourself. The only requirement is that either the student beneficiary OR the account owner be a Washington resident at the time of enrollment.Children of military personnel who claim Washington as their home of record also are eligible to participate in GET. Simply submit documentation of Washington residency when you enroll.

Once I've enrolled, what can I expect as a new participant? +-

The first thing you can expect is a "Welcome" email within 7 - 10 business days of your enrollment. It will advise you to log in to your account and review it for accuracy and to check for any alerts or messages about your new account. On a quarterly basis you will also receive an email advising you that your statement is online and ready to be viewed. Other email correspondence may arrive depending on the type of account you have, program updates and when your student will begin college. GET is moving toward a paperless environment, so email and online processes are preferred.

What if I move out-of-state after I open my account? +-

If you move out-of-state after opening your GET account, you can still make regular contributions and use your units for qualified higher education expenses. The value of your account will still be based on resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive Washington public university at the time you use your units, regardless of where your child attends college.

I'm expecting a baby. Can I open an account before my baby is born? +-

Yes, you can open an account during any annual enrollment period and list yourself as both the account owner and the student beneficiary. After the baby is born and has a Social Security number, simply fill out a Change of Student Beneficiary Form (no fee) to add your child to the account.

GET units make great baby shower gifts too!

I have a high school student. Does GET still make sense for them? +-

If your child is in high school, you will likely want to consider other options. At the current unit purchase price it may take at least six years before you see a measureable gain in your GET account.

Who controls a GET account? +-

As the account owner, you maintain total control of your account and are the only one who can request account changes, distributions or a refund. The student beneficiary does not have any control over the account, unless he or she is also the account owner.

Why do I need to choose a payment plan? What are my options? +-

Picking a payment plan allows you to decide how much and how often you want to save. You have three options: (1) Lump Sum Plan, (2) Custom Monthly Plan, or (3) a combination of both.

  • The Lump Sum Plan is a “pay as you go" option. You buy units whenever you want. You can buy between one and 500 units per student. There is no monthly payment obligation and you don’t even have to buy whole units. The only time you are required to buy at least one unit is when you enroll. You are subject to the unit price increases (which may occur up to twice annually) because you pay whatever the current price is whenever you purchase units. In addition, you must hold your units in your account for at least two calendar years before you can use them.
  • The Custom Monthly Plan is a defined monthly payment plan. Your monthly payment remains the same throughout the term of your contract and includes a fixed 7.5 percent finance charge.* You can buy between 50 and 500 units. You choose your payment period based on when you plan to begin using your units (up to 18 years in the future) and how much you want to save each month. You can save on finance charges by choosing a shorter payment term. You can pay a lesser amount each month by choosing a longer payment term, but you will be paying more in interest. To use your units, your plan must have been open for at least two calendar years and be paid in full.
  • Combination of Both. If you open a Custom Monthly Plan account, you can add Lump Sum units at any time. If you open a Lump Sum account, you can always add a Custom Monthly Plan later during any open enrollment period.

*The 7.5% finance charge is based on the total cost of contracted units and is compounded annually over the life of the contract. Finance charges have been factored into Custom Monthly Plan payment amounts and are not reduced if the contract is paid off early. Total finance charges may be reduced by shortening the term length or by reducing the number of units in the contract.

What if I want to set up a Custom Monthly Plan and buy Lump Sum units? +-

  • If you do not have a GET account, you can sign up for a Custom Monthly Plan account during our annual open enrollment period. Our Custom Monthly accounts are automatically set up to also accept Lump Sum purchases. If you use the paper enrollment form, please complete both areas of section 5 and include your payment for your Lump Sum purchase with the enrollment form.
  • If you already have a Custom Monthly Plan account, it's easy. Send us your payment for additional Lump Sum units and include your GET account number and a note telling us that you want to buy additional Lump Sum units. If you recently enrolled online, please include a copy of your enrollment summary.
  • If you already have a Lump Sum Plan account, you can add a Custom Monthly Plan to your account only during our annual enrollment period. You will need to complete a Custom Monthly Plan Addition form (available on our Forms page) and submit it before the end of the enrollment period. Please refer to the Payment Calculator for monthly payment options.

What if I suddenly can't make the monthly payment on my Custom Monthly Plan? +-

If you can no longer make the payments on your Custom Monthly contract, you have four options:

  1. Convert your Custom Monthly Plan to a Lump Sum Plan and end your monthly payments.
  2. Reduce the total number of units in your contract to lower your monthly payment.
  3. Increase the total number of years in your contract to lower your monthly payment. Please note that your contract must be paid in full before you can use your units.
  4. Close the account and request a refund. Please review our GET Refund and Cancellation policy or call us for details.

To make changes to your contract, please complete an Account Change Request form. To request a refund, please complete a Refund/Cancellation Request form.

Can I pay off my Custom Monthly Plan early? +-

You can pay off your Custom Monthly Plan early, although you won't automatically save on finance charges. The Custom Monthly Plan is not like a car loan where you can pay additional principal. However, there are other options available to save on finance charges if you are considering paying off your Custom Monthly Plan earlier than expected. Please call our Contact Center at 800.955.2318 for details.

If I sign up for a Custom Monthly Plan and later want to add more units, what are my options? +-

You have two options:

  • If you set up a Custom Monthly contract during a previous enrollment period, you would need to set up a second Custom Monthly contract during an open enrollment period. Your new contract would be priced at the new rate.
  • You can buy additional Lump Sum units at the new unit price in one purchase or through a series of smaller purchases. Each purchase would be based on the unit price in effect at the time of purchase.

If I have a Lump Sum Plan, how do I buy more units? Do I have to fill out another enrollment form? +-

You do not have to complete a new enrollment form to buy more Lump Sum units. You can send a payment for the purchase of additional units at any time. Just include your account number with the payment. Your payment can purchase whole or partial units. If you bought fewer than 500 units when you enrolled, we'll send you a coupon book for future purchases. If you have designated giftors who can contribute money to your account, they'll receive coupon books too.

How do I add a Custom Monthly Plan to a Lump Sum Plan account? +-

You may add a Custom Monthly Plan to your existing Lump Sum Plan account for the same student ONLY during the annual enrollment period, unless your child is less than 12 months old. Accounts can be opened year-round for children who are less than one year old. To add a monthly plan you simply complete a Custom Monthly Plan Addition form, available to download or complete online. Your form must be received online or (if mailed) postmarked by midnight on the last day of enrollment to lock into the current unit price. Your Custom Monthly Plan will be based on the rates of the current enrollment year and will include a fixed 7.5 percent finance charge. You don't have to pay an additional enrollment fee.

How do I change ownership on the account? +-

You may change the Account Owner on your GET account by completing the Account Owner Change form. The current Account Owner will designate a new Account Owner by returning the completed form with a notarized signature. Please mail the original form to GET Program, PO Box 43450, Olympia, WA 98504-3450.

Buying GET Units

How do I make a payment? +-

You have four options:

  • Coupon book. Unless you chose automatic bank withdrawal or payroll deduction, you'll receive a coupon book that you can use to include with your payment. Authorized giftors on your account also will receive coupon books. Please make checks payable to GET and mail to: GET Program, P.O. Box 84824, Seattle, WA 98124-6124. You can also simply send us a check with the account number on it and a note requesting to purchase additional units. If you have a Custom Monthly Plan, tell us if you want the check to apply toward your monthly payments or to purchase additional Lump Sum units. For Lump Sum unit purchases, the current unit price always applies.
  • Automatic withdrawal. Complete the paper Automatic Withdrawal Authorization form or complete the form online by accessing your account with your Login ID and Password.
  • Payroll deduction. If your employer participates in GET Payroll Deduction, please complete a Payroll Deduction Authorization form and submit it to your payroll office.
  • Online payments. You can transfer money from your bank directly to your GET account through our electronic bank transfer system. US Bank charges a $1 transaction fee for this service. You can access your account and complete this transaction with your Login ID and Password. Tips on making an electronic payment.

How many units should I buy? +-

You decide how many units to buy, from a minimum of one unit to a maximum of 500 units per child. You can even buy partial units in any amount. You can use up to 125 units each academic year. Any unused units from one year will automatically roll over to the next year.

The fact is that most college costs are covered by a combination of savings, part-time work, scholarships, loans and grants. It’s important to realize that whether you can afford 100 or 500 units, you are helping to make college dreams a reality for your child.

One hundred units will cover resident, undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees for a year at University of Washington or Washington State University. Fewer units may cover two years at a local community college. There are also other expenses to plan for, such as books, room and board, and supplies.

Can more than one person contribute to my GET account? +-

Yes, anyone can contribute to your GET account. Buying units is a great gift idea for grandparents, other family members, and friends. You can name "giftors" who can contribute money to your account. It's easy to add someone to your account as a giftor by completing the Giftor Authorization form. You can complete this form by logging in to your GET account or by downloading the paper form from our Forms page. We'll send your giftor a coupon book. All gift payments to your account belong to you, the account owner. If you have a Custom Monthly Plan, we'll apply all contributions to your Custom Monthly account unless your giftor specifies that the money should be used to buy Lump Sum units.

Can I supplement my savings in GET through other types of investments? +-

Yes, saving with GET is an excellent foundation for your children's or grandchildren's future college expenses because it's guaranteed. Remember that with GET, a maximum of 500 units may be purchased per student. Many families who fully fund a GET account for their child will continue to save in other ways to help with additional college expenses.

Can I contribute to more than one type of 529 plan? +-

Yes. Contributing to more than one type of 529 plan is an excellent way to ensure more college expenses will be covered. Many states allow you to enroll in their 529 plans even if you are not a resident of their state. For information on all 529 plans available nationwide, visit the College Savings Plans Network's website.

Can I buy GET units by transferring or rolling over money from other accounts? +-

You can make the following transfers or rollovers.

Please review IRS Publication 970 and the "Tax Matters" section of GET Program Details. We also encourage you to consult your tax advisor because these transactions may be taxable.

Acceptable Rollover Documentation Sample (1)

Acceptable Rollover Documentation Sample (2)

Can I roll over funds FROM the GET Program to another 529 program? +-

The GET Program currently does not allow this type of rollover. If you want to transfer funds to another 529 program, you must request a non-qualified refund of your units and pay any applicable program penalties and fees. You also will pay federal taxes and penalties on the earnings portion of the refund unless you reinvest the funds in a qualifying account in another 529 program within 60 days. Please complete a Refund/Cancellation Request form and review our Cancellation and Refund Policy for more information. We also encourage you to consult your tax advisor because this transaction may be taxable.

Can I buy GET units with funds from an existing UGMA or UTMA custodial account? +-

Funds invested in an UGMA or UTMA account (Uniform Gift to Minors Act/Uniform Transfer to Minors Act) belong to the minor. The custodian has a legal obligation to use the funds solely for the benefit of the minor. To maintain the proper ownership of these funds, a GET account must name the minor as both the account owner and the student beneficiary. You'll need to name a custodian or trustee to manage the account on the minor's behalf by using the Custodian Authorization form.

Once you set up your GET account, you can liquidate the UGMA or UTMA account and send the funds to the GET Program. Please consult your tax advisor because this transaction may be taxable. Finally, we recommend that you open a second GET account for additional contributions. You'll own the funds in this second account. The child will own all money in the first account (transferred UTMA/UGMA funds).

How is the GET unit price determined? +-

The GET unit purchase price is based on an actuarial formula which incorporates several factors, including estimated future tuition, projected inflation and investment returns, and administrative costs. It also includes a reserve to assist in periods of lower-than-expected investment returns or higher-than-expected tuition increases, and amortization of past losses. The GET Committee sets the unit price annually, and may adjust it once annually.

I bought units last year. Do I need to report anything on my federal income tax return? +-

If you made contributions to your account but did not make any withdrawals, you generally don't need to report anything on your federal income tax return. Your contributions are non-deductible. Please review IRS Publication 970 or consult a tax advisor for details.

How can I deactivate or change my automatic monthly bank withdrawal? +-

If you are the Account Owner you may log in to your GET account online and select "Payment Options," then click the "Automatic Monthly Bank Withdrawals" tab. Click "Delete Account" to deactivate your current withdrawal. Click "New Request" to set up a withdrawal for a different amount. When purchasing additional units, make sure you have enough time before you plan to use them. Units must be held two years and should be held at least six years to see financial gain.

If you have a Custom Monthly Plan, any changes will need to be done at least three business days prior to the 15th of the month, or the payment will be withdrawn from the account as scheduled.

If you are a Giftor a GET account, you will need to complete the Automatic Withdrawal Authorization form and select Deactivate or Change. Please mail original form to GET Program, PO Box 43450, Olympia, WA 98504-3450. We will need to receive the form at least a week prior to the regularly scheduled withdrawal to ensure enough time for processing.

Using My GET Units

How do I access my account when my child is ready to begin college? +-

In the spring before your student will begin college, we'll provide you with information about how to use your units. You, as the account owner, must initiate all distributions from your account.

When it's time for college, you'll need to choose your payment option. It's easy to use your units by logging in to your GET account, selecting "My Account," and looking for the "Use Units" section. To have GET send a payment directly to the school, you will submit a "Direct Payment Request." If you want to pay the school yourself and be reimbursed by GET for the expenses paid out-of-pocket, you will complete a "Reimbursement Request." You can also request to use your units by completing the paper forms found on our Forms page under "Use Your Units."

For more details on using your units, visit our Pay for School page.

What if my child decides not to go to college? +-

You have four options:

  • Wait to see if your student decides otherwise later on. Your student has up to 10 years from the Benefit Use Year on listed on the account (typically the year he or she graduates high school) to begin using the funds.
  • Transfer the funds to another family member with an existing account by completing a Transfer Request form. There is a lifetime maximum of 500 units per student.
  • Change the student beneficiary to another family member by completing a Change of Student Beneficiary form.
  • Request a refund by completing a Refund/Cancellation Request form. This form must be notarized. Review our Refund and Cancellation policy to learn more.

How soon can I use my GET units? +-

You must hold Lump Sum and Custom Monthly units for at least two calendar years before you can use them. In addition, your Custom Monthly contract must be paid in full. Please note that the longer the units remain in your account, the greater your long-term return on investment will be. You should plan to hold your GET units for at least six years before you can expect to see measurable gain.

How many units can I use each academic year? +-

You can use up to 125 eligible units per academic year and any unused units rolled over from previous years of eligibility. The academic year runs from August 1 - July 31.

How is the value of my account determined? +-

One GET unit equals one percent of the resident, undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive Washington public university at the time of use. We determine this value, known as the unit "payout value," at the beginning of each academic year when the state public universities set their own tuition rates.

The current payout value of one GET unit is $117.82 (effective through July 31, 2015).

Example 1: Your student attends a Washington public college.

Let's say that your student plans to attend The Evergreen State College and you have 100 eligible units. Total tuition and fees for one academic year at Evergreen equal about 75 units. Consequently, after paying tuition and fees, you will have about 25 remaining GET units. You can use these units for books, housing and other qualified higher education expenses or wait and use them the following year.

Example 2: Your student attends a private or out-of-state college.

Let's say that your student will attend the University of Idaho as a non-resident and you would have 100 GET units to help cover the costs. For the 2014-2015 academic year, the payout value of one GET unit is $117.82. Therefore, 100 units are worth $11,782. You can use this amount to help offset your student's total costs. You and your student will be responsible for covering any remaining costs.

Why is the current GET unit price higher than the current GET unit payout value? +-

Because the state guarantees that the money you put into GET will keep pace with rising tuition, we must ensure that we always have sufficient funds available. The GET Committee sets the unit purchase price based on 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 returns or higher-than-expected tuition, and amortization of past losses. The GET Committee sets the unit price annually, and may adjust it once annually, if needed, to ensure financial stability for the program.

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.

Today’s unit purchase price is higher than the current payout value because the state guarantees your GET account will keep pace with tuition in the future, even if it doubles or triples in price. This premium over current tuition ensures stability for the program.

It will take at least six years to realize a gain on your investment (more if using a Custom Monthly Plan), but GET’s guarantee ensures the money you save will be there in the future. GET is a self-sustaining program and receives no ongoing state appropriations.

Can a part-time student use this program? +-

Yes, you can use your GET units if your student attends school part-time. The value of your GET units will still be based on the resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive public university in Washington.

Where can I use my units? +-

You can use your units at nearly any college, university or technical school - public or private - in the United States and selected colleges in other countries. In fact, GET has already helped students attend school in all 50 states and 15 foreign countries. A college is eligible if it participates in federal financial aid programs through the U.S. Department of Education. To view a list of eligible schools or to verify a federal school code, visit the US. Department of Education's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website.

If your student attends a private or out-of-state college, you'll have to pay the difference between the value of your GET units and the college's tuition. In addition, enrollment in the GET Program does not guarantee that your student will pay in-state resident tuition or be admitted to any school.

Can I use my GET account for graduate school? +-

Yes. However, if tuition for graduate school is higher than resident undergraduate tuition at the most expensive Washington public university, you'll pay the difference.

My child is taking college-level courses through Running Start. Can I use my GET account to pay for them? +-

You can use your GET account to pay for books and other eligible out-of-pocket expenses that are required for Running Start courses. You cannot request reimbursement for tuition since it is subsidized and not an out-of-pocket expense.

What will my units cover? +-

GET units are designed to pay college tuition. However, if you have eligible units after paying tuition, you can use them to pay for room and board, books and other qualified higher education expenses. Review IRS Publication 970 for details.

You can use up to 125 eligible units per academic year and any unused units from a previous year. For example, if you have 250 units and use 100 units in the first year, you could use 150 units in the second year (25 leftover units + 125 units = 150 units).

If you use your units for room and board, you can pay up to the total room and board allowance calculated by the college in its Cost of Attendance budget. Check with your child's college's financial aid office to determine its room and board allowance.

What are state-mandated fees? +-

State-mandated fees are required by state law and charged to every student who attends a Washington public college or university. They include operating, building, and services and activities fees. They do not include fees imposed by an individual school. These school-required fees may include technology fees, library fees, recreation fees, fees to secure repayment of bonded indebtedness or other types of fees. These fees are not considered state-mandated fees and, therefore, are not included when determining the GET unit payout value. However, you can use your units to pay these additional fees if you have extra units available after paying tuition and state-mandated fees.

How will a GET account affect my child's eligibility for financial aid? +-

A GET account is considered an asset of the account owner. If the parent or dependent student is the account owner, the GET account is considered an asset of the parent and treated like any other parental asset in determining a family's eligibility for federal financial aid. Parental assets are assessed at a much lower rate than a student's. Consequently, a GET account has significantly less impact on the student's eligibility for financial aid, as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website.

What if my child receives a scholarship? +-

You have four options:

  • Use your GET units to pay for room and board, books, and other qualified higher education expenses if your child's scholarship covers tuition and fees.
  • Wait and hold your units for use in the future. Your child has up to 10 years to use his or her units and may want to use them for graduate school.
  • Transfer the account to a family member, as long as you don't exceed the maximum 500 units per student.
  • Request a refund. Please review our Refund and Cancellation policy for details.

How can I transfer units between family members? +-

You can only transfer units between GET accounts of qualifying family members as defined by the IRS. If both students have a GET account, you may simply transfer the units by completing a Transfer Request Form. You can complete this form by logging in to your GET account, selecting "My Account" and looking for the "Transfer Request form" on the next screen; or you can download the paper Transfer Request form.

If you want to transfer all the units, you may just change the name of the Student Beneficiary on the account by completing a Student Beneficiary Change Form. This form requires the Account Owner’s notarized signature. Please mail original forms to GET Program, PO BOX 43450, Olympia, WA 98504-3450.

If you need to establish a new GET account to make the transfer to another student, you need to complete the enrollment during the open enrollment period (November 1 – May 31), unless the new account is for a child under 12 months of age (newborns up to their first birthday can be enrolled year-round). A student may have multiple accounts but may have a total of no more than 500 units between all accounts in his or her name.

My student's college needs the payment for fall term right away. What should I do? +-

You have two options:

  • Contact the Student Account's Office at your child's college and tell them your payment request from your GET account will take up to 14 days to process. You might ask if they will place a hold on his or her account to allow time for the payment to arrive. Some colleges will do this if they know they will receive guaranteed funding from GET.
  • Pay the tuition bill yourself and then request reimbursement from your GET account. This can be done online by accessing your account with your Login ID and Password, then completing a Reimbursement Request Form.

I submitted my Direct Payment Request on time, and the payment deadline for my child's college has passed. Why hasn't the money been distributed from my GET account? +-

Some of the large Washington public colleges ask us to batch payments for each term, which allows them to receive one payment for all students. The colleges often post the GET funds to the student's account and then request payment from GET, typically after the deadline has passed. To see if this applies to you, log in to your account to verify that your online Direct Payment Request is in "approved" status and that the information you submitted, including the payment term and date, is correct. If you have additional questions, please call us.

Will I be able to use my GET account to study abroad? +-

You can use GET directly to cover qualified higher education expenses (tuition, room and board, etc.) at any of the schools in foreign countries that are listed on the FAFSA website. There are many international schools listed; just choose “State,” then “Foreign Country” in the search menu to view the complete list. Also, if tuition or other qualified higher education expenses for a study-abroad program will be paid directly to your university (for which GET is already approved), you can use GET as you normally would to cover them. The payment must go to an eligible institution of higher education. GET is unable to pay study abroad programs directly, or reimburse out-of-pocket expenses paid directly to these programs. Also, please note that travel to and from your destination is not considered a qualified higher education expense.

If a university charges differential tuition for a specific course of study, will my GET account cover that? +-

Differential tuition has not yet been fully defined by universities, nor has it yet been implemented. Your GET account can be used to pay these qualified higher education costs. However, the payout value for GET units, which is established at the beginning of each academic year, is based on tuition and state-mandated fees that are charged to all students at Washington's highest-priced public university. By definition in the GET Master Agreement, "State-mandated fees are those provided by statute, including operating, building and student activity fees." The statute (RCW 28B.15.031) defines operating fees as "the fees, other than building fees, charged all students registering at the state's colleges and universities..."