When a child is born, one of the most universal ways for friends and family to express their love is to shower the little bundle of joy with gifts. The thing about many of these first gifts is that it’s not long before the child outgrows them. From way-too-cute dinosaur-embellished onesies that will last a few months, to deluxe jogging strollers that may last a few years, these items (while practical) have a relatively short useful life. What if there was a gift that continued to grow along with your child and could help set him or her up for a lifetime of success?
Whether you’re a soon-to-be parent building your baby shower registry or a friend or family member looking for just the right thing, the gift of education always fits just right and will last a lifetime. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and even friends continue to be part of a growing base of contributors to children’s college savings accounts, as families struggle to keep up with rising college costs on their own. What these savvy giftors know is that for what this gift lacks in instant gratification, it truly makes up for in long term rewards and opportunities that it can create for a child.
One of the easiest ways for family and friends to contribute to a child’s college savings is through the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program. GET is Washington’s 529 prepaid tuition plan that helps families save for future college expenses. Savings in a GET account grow tax-free and can be used to pay for tuition, room and board, books and supplies at colleges, universities and technical schools anywhere in the country. Further, the value of a GET account is guaranteed by the state to keep pace with tuition at Washington’s most expensive public university. Since the program opened in 1998 over 155,000 GET accounts have been opened, and over 35,000 students have already used their accounts to help pay for college expenses.
Participating in a child’s college savings shows a commitment to his or her future success. In addition to hedging against future tuition increases, savings in a GET account help reduce the need for costly student loans and will truly inspire a child to excel in school. In fact, studies show that children who know there’s a college savings account in their name are seven times more likely to attend college than those who don’t.
As children grow, contributions to their college savings continue to make an ideal gift for any occasion, including holidays, birthdays and other important milestones.
Family and friends can easily gift any amount to an existing GET account or can open a new account for a child.
To take your first step in college savings, you can conveniently enroll online between November 1 and May 31 (newborns can be enrolled year-round).
Once enrolled, you can let your loved ones know how to get involved by sending a customized “Suggest a Gift” email. To learn more about the GET Program and to find out how you can give the gift of education, visit www.get.wa.gov or call 1.800.955.2318.