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Top Ten FAQs

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.

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.

What happens to my GET units 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 800 unit maximum). You can request a refund (see our Refund and Cancellation policy, available on the Forms page, 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.

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.

What happens to my GET units if my student 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 800 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 (available on the Forms page) for details.

How do I know purchasing GET units is safe?

GET is one of only a few 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 up to twice yearly to ensure that future college funds will always be there for families who have enrolled their children in GET.

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, available on the forms page, or call us for details.

Are GET 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.

How many GET units should I buy?

You decide how many units to buy, from a minimum of one unit to a maximum of 800 units per child. You can even buy partial units in any amount. You can use up to 200 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 25 or 800 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.

How is the GET unit price set? Why is it sometimes higher 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 returns or higher-than-expected tuition. The WA529 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.

The GET unit purchase price is usually higher than the current payout value because the state guarantees your GET account will keep pace with tuition in the future, no matter how much it changes. This premium over current tuition ensures stability for the program. 

For the 2021-22 enrollment year, the WA529 Committee set the unit price at $114.01, which matches the 2021-22 GET Unit Payout Value.  This is the first time in GET's unit pricing history in which the price and payout value match.

GET's guarantee ensures that the amount of tuition you buy will cover the same amount of in-state tuition in the future. While GET does not guarantee that you will make money, many risk averse savers with ample time to save take comfort in knowing what they have purchased in advance, without worrying about what happens with stock markets or in-state tuition costs in the future.

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. Learn more on the Pay for School with GET page.

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. 

Learn more about GET in our Program Details Booklet.

No Books Here Keep Looking

 

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 (DreamAhead): You pick your investments and shoulder 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 prepaid 529 plan is called Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET). DreamAhead, Washington's college savings plan, opened in 2018.

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 and state-mandated fees 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 changes). Secondly, the earnings and withdrawals are tax-exempt when the money is used for higher education expenses.

What does the State of Washington guarantee with GET?

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 800 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 GET 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 GET 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 800 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.

What happens if the GET Account Owner becomes legally incapacitated or dies?

The person that the Account Owner named as the Account Owner Survivor would assume control of the account. If an Account Owner Survivor has not been named on an Account and the Account Owner dies, control and ownership of the Account will become subject to the estate laws of the state in which the Account Owner resided. If an Account Owner Survivor is a minor at the time of the Account Owner’s death, then a Guardian must be named by the minor Account Owner Survivor’s parent or guardian.

I bought GET units in the 2019-20 or 2020-21 enrollment year at a price higher than the current unit price. How does a lower unit price affect my account?

The GET unit price for the 2021-22 enrollment year is $114.01, which matches the 2021-22 GET Unit Payout Value.  This is the first time in GET's unit pricing history in which the price and payout value match.

 

Like with most products, the cost of GET units is generally expected to increase over time, as is the payout value. This year, the GET unit payout value actually did increase with tuition by 2.6%. However, the WA529 Committee was able to bring down the price of new units. This was primarily to lower assumed future tuition growth that caused the Office of the State Actuary to set the "best estimate" GET unit price at $114. 

The Committee recognized that while a low GET unit price would be welcome news for most Washingtonians, it could also have been disheartening to GET account owners who purchased units in the 2020-21 enrollment year at $133 (since adjusted to $122 as a result of Senate Bill 5430) or in the 2019-20 enrollment year at $121.

Therefore, the Committee leveraged GET's strong financial position to adjust the unit price for those two years to $114.01. 

For detailed information on the 2021-22 GET unit price and how it may affect your account, see the 2021-22 Unit Price Resource Page.

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:

  • Online: Visit our GET Started page and click "Open an Account" to enroll online during our open enrollment period (November 1 - May 31). The on-screen instructions will guide you through the process.
  • By Mail: You may also download an enrollment form and mail it to us. Or, you can request that an enrollment form to be mailed to you. If you choose this option, make sure to request the Program Details booklet and/or the GET Enrollment Guide. You can find electronic copies of these documents on our forms page.

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 in GET, 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 GET 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 a GET 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?

Most families who open GET accounts do so for younger children (e.g. grade school and younger). This is because the current GET unit purchase price is higher than the current unit payout value, and you may need to hold units for several years before the unit payout value exceeds the price you paid. Many families with children already in high school seek other options for their college savings, unless they plan to use GET for later years of college, or for graduate school. Learn more about the WA529 DreamAhead College Investment plan.

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 with GET? 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 800 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 5.5 percent finance charge.* You can buy between 50 and 800 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 5.5% 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 suddenly can't make the monthly payment on my GET Custom Monthly Plan?

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

  • Convert your Custom Monthly Plan to a Lump Sum Plan and end your monthly payments.
  • Reduce the total number of units in your contract to lower your monthly payment.
  • 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.
  • 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 GET 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 GET 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 GET 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.

How do I add a Custom Monthly Plan to a Lump Sum Plan for my GET account?

The easiest way to start a Custom Monthly Plan is to complete a new enrollment during an open enrollment period. If you want to consolidate all of your units to one account later on, you can use the Transfer Request form to move units from one account to another. Please refer to the Payment Calculator for monthly payment options. Your Custom Monthly Plan will be based on the rates of the current enrollment year and will include a fixed 5.5 percent finance charge.

How do I change ownership on my GET 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 to my GET account?

You have four options:

  • 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.
  • Coupon book. If you prefer to send us your payments through the mail via paper check, you can request a coupon book that you can use to include with your payment. You can also request coupon books for authorized giftors on your account. 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. Request a coupon book by calling 800.955.2318 or download generic payment coupons on the forms page
  • Online payments. This option is commonly used by giftors who want to make a gift payment to your account. 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.
How many GET units should I buy?

You decide how many units to buy, from a minimum of one unit to a maximum of 800 units per child. You can even buy partial units in any amount. You can use up to 200 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 25 or 800 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, you can purchase a maximum of 800 units 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. In addition to GET, Washington offers the DreamAhead College Investment Plan, which works differently than GET, as investments are subject to stock market performance. Most states also offer 529 college savings plans, and allow you to enroll even if you are not a resident of that state. See how Washington's College Savings Plans stack up against 529 plans from other states.

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 "Federal Tax Information" section of the GET Program Details Booklet. 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 buy GET units with funds from an existing UGMA or UTMA custodial account?

Funds invested in a Uniform Gift to Minors (UGMA) or Uniform Transfers to Minors (UTMA) account 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 (found in the Make Changes to Your Account section of our forms page).

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

I bought GET 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 add, change or deactivate an automatic withdrawal for my GET account?

If you are the Account Owner you may log in to your GET account online and click "Payment Options." On this screen you can add new one-time or recurring automatic withdrawals and you can delete current automatic withdrawals that you have already set up. When purchasing additional units, make sure you have enough time before you plan to use them. Units must be held two years and may need several years before the unit payout value exceeds the unit purchase price.

If you have a Custom Monthly Plan, any changes will need to be done at least two 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 on a GET account, you will need to complete the Automatic Withdrawal Authorization form. 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 GET 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 have GET reimburse you 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 happens to my GET units 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 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 (available on the Forms page). There is a lifetime maximum of 800 units per student.
  • Change the student beneficiary to another family member by completing a Change of Student Beneficiary form (available on the Forms page).
  • Request a refund by completing a Refund/Cancellation Request form (available on the Forms page). This form must be notarized. Review our Refund and Cancellation policy (available on the Forms page) 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. When you buy a GET unit, you pay more than the current payout value, meaning it may take several years for your account to exceed the price you paid. Please note that, generally, the longer the units remain in your account, the more likely it is that the unit payout value will exceed your unit purchase price. However, the State does not guarantee that you will make money. If in-state tuition decreases in the future, GET units may lose value.

How many GET units can I use each academic year?

You can use up to 200 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 GET 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 $111.03 through July 31, 2021. The new payout value of $114.01 for the 2021-22 academic year goes into effect on August 1. 

Example 1: Your student attends a Washington public college in 2020-21.

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 in 2020-21.

Let's say that your student will attend the University of Idaho as a non-resident and you have 100 GET units to help cover the costs. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the payout value of one GET unit is $111.03. Therefore, 100 units are worth $11,103. 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 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 returns or higher-than-expected tuition. 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, no matter how much it changes. This premium over current tuition ensures stability for the program. 

GET's guarantee ensures that the amount of tuition you buy will cover the same amount of in-state tuition in the future. While GET does not guarantee that you will make money, many risk averse savers with ample time to save take comfort in knowing what they have purchased in advance, without worrying about what happens with stock markets or in-state tuition costs in the future.

Can a part-time student use the GET 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 GET 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. 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. Generally, you cannot request reimbursement for tuition since Running Start tuition is subsidized by the State of Washington. However, in some situations, such as when a student takes more class credits than are subsidized (typically more than 15 credits per term), you may have some out-of-pocket tuition expenses that could be reimbursable. Please consult a tax advisor to be certain that your out-of-pocket Running Start expenses are considered qualified higher education expenses for 529 plans such as GET.

What will my GET 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 200 eligible units per academic year and any unused units from a previous year. For example, if you have 400 units and use 150 units in the first year, you could use 250 units in the second year (50 leftover units + 200 units = 250 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 (see "Tuition and fees" in RCW 28B.95.020) and are charged to every student who attends a Washington public college or university. They include operating, building, and student activity 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?

Typically, if a parent or dependent student is the Account Owner, the financial aid formula treats a GET account as a parental asset, which has a smaller impact on financial aid eligibility than an independent student's assets. If a non-parent (e.g. a grandparent) owns the GET account and makes distributions for the student, the financial aid formula may treat these distributions as student income and have greater impact on financial aid eligibility in future years. The total value of all GET accounts owned by the parent or independent student must be reported on the FAFSA. GET accounts owned by someone other than the student's parents or the student do not need to be reported the first year. However, in subsequent years, the GET account may be counted as student income; consult with the financial aid department at the student's school for specifics. You should consult your financial advisor or the financial aid office at your school to understand specifics related to your individual situation.

What happens to my GET units 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 800 unit maximum). You can request a refund (see our Refund and Cancellation policy, available on the Forms page, 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.

How can I transfer my GET units between family members?

You can only transfer units between qualifying family members' GET accounts (based on the IRS's definition of a family member). 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 on our forms page.

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

Note that a student may have multiple accounts but may have a total of no more than 800 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 the student's 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. You can do this online by logging in to your GET account, selecting "My Account," looking for the "Use Units" section, and then completing a Reimbursement Request.
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.

Here is a list of schools that currently participate in this batch payment process: 

University of Washington Western Washington University Clark College
Washington State University Shoreline Community College Pierce College
Central Washington University South Puget Sound Community College Olympic College
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..."

Do GET units expire?

Yes, GET units do expire. Students have up to 10 years after their selected benefit use year to begin using the units their GET accounts. Once students begin using their units, they have an additional 10 years to finish using their units. If it appears that a student will not be able to use some or all of their units, there are options, including transferring the unused units to another family member, or requesting a refund. Be aware that refunds that are not used to pay for qualified higher education expenses are considered non-qualified withdrawals and any earnings may be subject to federal income tax and state and federal penalties.

Can I use my GET account to pay for student loans?

On December 20, 2019, a federal spending bill was signed containing provisions allowing 529 plan account owners to withdraw assets to pay principal and interest on certain qualified education loans for the beneficiary of your account or any of the beneficiary’s siblings. The loan repayment provisions apply to repayments up to $10,000 per individual. This $10,000 is a lifetime amount, not an annual limit.

Can I use my account to pay for apprenticeship programs?

On December 20, 2019, a federal spending bill was signed containing provisions allowing 529 plan account owners to withdraw assets to pay for certain expenses associated with apprenticeship programs registered and certified by the Secretary of Labor under the National Apprenticeship Act.

What if a college sends me a refund?

Generally, College students and parents who receive refunds for tuition, room and board, or other qualified expenses can re-contribute their refund back into their GET account within 60 days of the date of the refund to avoid paying any penalty or taxes on the earnings. Be sure to check IRS Publication 970 to see how a refund may be treated under the law. 

Make Account Changes to a Custom Monthly Plan

How can I convert my GET account from a Custom Monthly Payment Plan to a Lump Sum Plan?

You can convert your Custom Monthly Payment Plan to a Lump Sum Plan by filling out an Account Change Request form (found on our forms page). Once you make this change you will no longer have the locked unit price. All prior payments received will be reposted at the purchase rate that was in effect when the payment was received. You may continue to make Lump Sum contributions, but they will purchase units at the current unit price when your payment is received. If you decide you want a Custom Monthly Plan later you will need to open a new Custom Monthly Plan during an open enrollment period. Remember: Lump Sum units must be held in the account for a minimum of two years before  they are eligible for use. 

It is important to reach out to the GET Contact Center at 800.955.2318 to discuss this option.

How can I reduce the number of GET units in my Custom Monthly contract?

You can reduce your Custom Monthly contract in 50 unit increments by filling out an Account Change Request form (found on our forms page). Once you reduce the number of units in your contract you may not increase it back to your original amount. However, you may open a new Custom Monthly account during any open enrollment period. This would change your required monthly payment amount. 

It is important to reach out to the GET Contact Center at 800.955.2318 to discuss this option.

How can I reduce the term length on my Custom Monthly contract GET account?

You can reduce the term length on your contract by filling out an Account Change Request form (found on our forms page). Please be advised that this will typically cause a balance owing to bring your account current and will change your required monthly payment amount. However, if this change is done while also reducing units it may pay your account in full.

It is important to reach out to our Contact Center to discuss this option. 

How can I increase GET units on my Custom Monthly Plan contract?

If you have an existing Custom Monthly Plan that you opened during the current enrollment period, you can print out your enrollment summary, make changes, sign it and return it to us by the last day of the enrollment period. If you have a Custom Monthly Plan that was opened during a previous enrollment period and you would like to increase your units, you will need to open a new account during an open enrollment period. The Account Change Request form (found on our forms page) can also be completed to make this change. 

It is important to reach out to the GET Contact Center at 800.955.2318 to discuss this option.

How can I increase the term length on my Custom Monthly contract?

You can increase the term length by filling out an Account Change Request form (found on our forms page). This is typically done if you originally set up your Custom Monthly account with a shorter term. Please be advised that this may cause your account to be paid ahead and will change your required monthly payment amount.  

It is important to reach out to the GET Contact Center at 800.955.2318 to discuss this option.

Refunding a GET Account

How do I request a refund of my GET account?

If you choose to request a refund of your GET account(s), you must first review the GET Refund/Cancellation Policy, and then complete a GET Refund/Cancellation Request form for each account being refunded. Links to these documents can be found on the 'Forms' page:

Please note:

  • Please carefully read all directions in the GET Refund/Cancellation Policy and Refund/Cancellation Request form. GET can accept original, fully completed, notarized refund forms. The form can be mailed or physically delivered to the GET office. GET can also accept a completed refund web form submitted via your online GET account (refunds cannot be requested over the phone).  We do not accept copies or faxed or emailed Refund/Cancelation Request forms. Any errors in completing and submitting the refund form may significantly delay the process of completing your refund.
  • The non-refundable enrollment fee and any previously incurred account fees, such as late payment fees and NSF charges, will not be included in final refund amounts.
  • The earnings portion of any refund may still be subject to IRS taxes and penalties. For example, any increased value may be taxed as income and an additional 10% penalty may apply.
    If you take a refund, a 1099-Q tax form will be sent to you that shows the principal and earnings portions of your refund. You may be required to report this information to the IRS.
  • To avoid a taxable event, you may deposit your refund into another 529 plan within 60 days of the date your refund is processed. To compare various 529 plans, go to www.collegesavings.orgNote that, per IRS regulations, 529 plan rollovers can only be performed once every 12 months.
  • We strongly advise you to consult IRS PUBLICATION 970 and a tax advisor about potential tax implications.

It may take up to 6 weeks to process your refund from the time that GET receives your request.

If I paid more for my GET units than the current payout value of my account, can I just get a refund for the difference between the price I paid and the current value?

If you paid more than the current payout value of your account, you can request a full refund of your contributions. However, we are unable to simply give you the difference between the price you paid and the current payout value. Keep in mind that if you are interested in keeping any units purchased at $163 or $172 in your account, you have received the automatic amortization refund, which effectively made these unit purchase prices lower (by approximately $18-20/unit depending on the year you purchased your units).

How long will it take to get my GET account refunded?

We estimate that it will take up to 6 weeks for you to receive your refund, once we receive your Refund/Cancellation Request form (on the forms page).

What if I have a GET Custom Monthly Plan where the unit price was less than the current payout value, but after paying financing charges, I effectively paid more than the current payout value?

If you request to refund your Custom Monthly Plan that is paid in full, we will determine if you paid more or less than the current payout value, after factoring in the monthly financing charges. If you paid more than the current unit payout value you will receive back your contributions. If you paid less, you will receive the current unit payout value.

Keep in mind that if you make a distribution from your account to pay for school after August 1, 2017 (the day the rebasing occurred), all future refunds and distributions would be at the payout value, and you will no longer be able to request a contribution refund for your account.?

I have a GET Custom Monthly Plan that is not paid in full. Can I request a refund?

Yes, all GET Account Owners have the option to request a refund. For Custom Monthly accounts that are not yet paid in full, we first convert the account to a Lump Sum plan before processing the refund. This means that each monthly payment you have made will apply towards the purchase of Lump Sum units at the unit price that was in effect when each monthly payment was made. You will receive a refund of $117.82/unit for all payments made on or before April 30, 2011, and a refund of your contributions for all payments made after that date. The original $50 enrollment fee, any previously incurred late payment or dishonored payment fees, and rebased units are not included in the total refund amount.

Keep in mind that if you make a distribution from your account to pay for school after August 1, 2017 (the day the rebasing occurred), all future refunds and distributions would be at the payout value, and you will no longer be able to request a contribution refund for your account.

If I plan to request a refund of my GET Custom Monthly Plan that I am still making payments on, do I have to keep making my monthly payments?

If you wish to refund your Custom Monthly Plan, and it is not yet paid in full, we first recommend that you call our Contact Center at 1.800.955.2318. They can put your account on hold so you will not receive late payment charges while your refund is being processed.

Potential Tax Implications and Rollover Information for Refunds

Do I need to report my GET refund to the IRS? Will I be taxed?

This answer depends on your situation. If you have made money in your GET account, and request a refund, you will be issued a 1099-Q tax form the following January that shows the earnings and principal portions of your withdrawal. If you do not use your funds to cover qualified higher education expenses incurred in the same calendar year, your account earnings may be subject to a 10% IRS penalty and will be taxed as ordinary income. It is our understanding that you will not be subject to these penalties if you rollover your funds into another qualified 529 plan within 60 days of the date that your refund is processed. Note that, per IRS regulations, 529 plan rollovers can only be performed once every 12 months.

If your refund is for contributions only, and does not include any gains, you will not receive a 1099-Q tax form and should not need to report your refund to the IRS. Please note, this means all amortization refunds will not receive a 1099-Q form.

Note that we always recommend consulting IRS Publication 970, a tax professional and/or financial adviser to fully understand any potential tax implications before requesting a refund of your account.

Can GET directly rollover my GET funds to another 529 plan?

You can initiate a direct rollover of your GET funds to another 529 plan only if you are fully refunding your account. To perform a direct rollover from GET to another 529 plan, you will first need to establish the new 529 account, then complete the Outgoing Rollover Request form (on the Forms page). The Account Owner and Student Beneficiary must be the same for both the GET account, and the 529 account that you are rolling your GET funds into. If you intend to transfer funds from one beneficiary to another, or from one Account Owner to another, you must do this prior to initiating the rollover, or once the rollover is complete. If you intend to transfer funds or change the beneficiary or Account Owner after the rollover, be sure you understand the other 529 plans' rules around this process prior to rolling over your GET funds. 

You can also perform an indirect rollover by requesting a refund and re-depositing your funds into a qualified 529 plan within 60 days. It is our understanding, per IRS Publication 970, that by doing this you will avoid tax consequences. Note that, per IRS regulations, 529 plan rollovers can only be performed once every 12 months. Consult IRS Publication 970, which describes these rollover considerations (see p. 61): .

Note that we always recommend consulting IRS Publication 970, a tax professional and/or financial adviser to fully understand any potential tax implications before requesting a refund of your account.

My other 529 plan requires a principal and earnings statement in order to deposit my GET funds. How can I access this?

Once your refund is processed, you can download a principal and earnings statement from your online GET account. To do this, click “More Info” under the “Use Units” section of the “My Account” dashboard. Once on the “Use Units” page, you will see a record of your refund request and a yellow button to generate a PDF of your principal and earnings statement.

Federal 529 Changes

Can I use a GET account for K-12 expenses?

Section 529 of the IRS code allows for tax-free distributions for tuition (up to $10,000 annually) at elementary and secondary public, private, and religious schools. Please note that GET is specifically designed to save for qualified higher education expenses at postsecondary schools. Please consult a tax advisor.

I got this email about the SECURE Act. What does it mean?

On December 20, 2019, the President signed the SECURE Act into law, as part of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Act). This bill pertains mostly to changes with retirement accounts, but it also includes new provisions that allow 529 Plan account owners to withdraw assets to pay for certain apprenticeship programs, and to pay principal and interest on qualified higher education loans for the beneficiary or any of the beneficiary’s siblings.

For a detailed explanation on how these provisions may affect how you can use your GET or DreamAhead account, visit here.

How can I request a reimbursement of my GET account?

WA529 can receive reimbursement requests electronically using our web submission form in the “Using Units” section of your online account; by fax to 360.704.6200; or by email to getinfo@wsac.wa.gov. You may also hand deliver a printed form to our office at 917 Lakeridge Way SW, Olympia, WA 98502. Forms can be found online on our forms page.

Will I have to pay taxes on GET reimbursements for student loans or apprenticeships?

It is our understanding that the withdrawals described above will not be considered taxable distributions by the IRS. As always, we encourage account owners to consult a qualified tax advisor about these new developments and how they relate to their personal situation.

Can I request up to $10,000 to apply to student loans every year?

No. The SECURE Act allows a lifetime maximum of $10,000 to be reimbursed from 529 accounts to pay existing student loans. For example, if you claim $5,000 in student loan reimbursements from your 529 account in 2019, you only have $5,000 remaining for this purpose in subsequent years, until you reach the $10,000 lifetime maximum.

Can I get reimbursed for student loan payments that were made for another child or myself (the Account Owner)?

Yes, if the student beneficiary has a sibling you won’t have to make any changes to your account. You will just submit the reimbursement request as normal.

If you would like to use the GET account for your own student loan payments you will have to change the name of the student beneficiary to you. Once this change is processed you can submit a reimbursement request.

What kind of school loan can I get reimbursed for?

The SECURE Act states “amounts paid as principal or interest on any qualified student loan” are eligible for reimbursement from a 529 account."

News from the Nest

You can use funds from your GET or DreamAhead account to pay down existing student loans.

>> Learn more Learn More

529 Myth:

Myth: You can only use GET units at in-state schools. FACT: You can use GET units virtually anywhere, even outside the U.S.

>> Learn more

Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, the WA529 office will remain closed to walk-in visitors at this time. If you have questions about your GET or DreamAhead account, Contact Center representatives are available by phone or email. Please see our Contact Us page for hours and information. 

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