Northwest NEWS

August 17, 1998

Local News

Tomorrow's tuition at today's prices

   Washington State is now prepared to make college education a little more affordable for Washington State children. This fall, the state will introduce GET (Guaranteed Education Tuition), a program that allows parents to pre-pay their children's future education at today's rate by purchasing tuition units in advance of their attendance.
  
   Essentially, GET assures Tomorrow's tuition at today's prices. These credits are redeemable at all Washington State and out-of-state public and private higher education institutions.
  
   Those interested in learning more about the GET program can call (toll-free) 1-877-GET-TUIT. The toll-free TDD number is 888-837-7991.
  
   The newly activated toll-free call center allows potential customers to get questions answered and order registration packets. Additional information is available on GET's web site, www.get.wa.gov .
  
   The GET program was set in motion to help ensure that higher education is affordable for more families.
  
   Marc Gaspard, chair of the GET committee and executive director of the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) says, "There are approximately 1.5 million children under 16 in our state; about 750,000 of those students will engage in some type of higher education, be it technical college, four year college or community college. We want parents to be in a better financial position to help their kids more easily take that step in the future."
  
   Tuition costs have steadily increased with rates exceeding both inflation and growth in personal income.
  
   This comes at the same time that family savings rates have declined, with most families not addressing the need to save for college until it's too late, normally when a son or daughter is college age. GET allows parents, relatives and friends of the child to begin an education fund early.
  
   The program is straightforward: Parents sign up their child during GET's yearly contract period.
  
   Once a contract is established, anyone can contribute to the child's tuition fund. Another option is to purchase individual tuition units.
  
   If a commitment to a contract can not be made, individual tuition units may be purchased at any time. A family member or friend can also purchase individual tuition units as a gift and can set up a contract for a child. Once the child has been accepted to a college of their choice, the tuition credits will be applied. While other states across the country have similar programs, Washington's pre-paid tuition program provides a state-backed guarantee.
  
   Formal enrollment in the program begins in August for those who wish to purchase tuition units in a lump sum. During GET's annual contract enrollment period from Sept. 15, 1998-Jan. 15, 1999 purchasers may enroll in customized monthly payment plans spreading payments over one to ten years.