The 2021-22 GET Unit Price is $114.01
The 2021-22 GET Unit Purchase Price 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.
How is the GET unit purchase price set?
The WA529 Committee (GET's governing 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 Committee sets the unit price annually, and may adjust it once annually, if needed, to ensure financial 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 can be confident in what they have purchased in advance, without worrying about what happens with financial markets or in-state tuition costs in the future.
How is the purchase price different than the payout value?
While this year's unit purchase price happens to match this year's payout value, this was coincidental and due primarily to changes in assumptions about future tuition growth. These two figures are calculated separately and have historically been different amounts.
The payout value of a GET unit is established at the beginning of each academic year when the state public universities set their tuition rates. Each year, the payout value of a GET unit represents 1/100th of the actual resident, undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at Washington's most expensive public university.
In any given year, the unit purchase price can be different (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. State law requires that the WA529 Committee work very closely with the Office of the State Actuary to assess the health of the program and set assumptions about future tuition growth and determine a fair price to charge for a unit. This price must balance affordability with managing the risk that the program won't be able to meet it's future obligations.
Why did the GET unit price go down this year?
The GET unit price is set every year and is informed by an analysis of the Office of the State Actuary (OSA). The OSA takes many variables into account, including:
- estimated future tuition
- projected inflation and investment returns
- administrative costs
- a stabilization reserve to adjust for periods of lower-than-expected returns or higher-than-expected tuition.
Due primarily to lowering their assumptions about future tuition growth, the "best estimate" unit price provided by the State Actuary was lower than the 2020-21 and the 2019-20 GET unit prices. After significant discussion, the Committee agreed that a new lower price of $114.01 was the appropriate price to set, corresponding with the current year's unit payout value.
I bought GET units at a higher unit price between November 1, 2019-June 30, 2021. How does a lower unit price affect my GET account?
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 on 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.
When will this retroactive price adjustment take place?
The Committee set a deadline of June 30, 2022 for staff to adjust affected accounts. However, WA529 was able to complete the unit price adjustment for affected accounts on or before December 1, 2021.
Have questions? Give our WA529 Contact Center a call at 800.955.2318, or email us at email@example.com.