Northwest NEWS

July 8, 2002

School

GET program sets record

Washington's Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) pre-paid college tuition savings plan reports record enrollment this year, following a national trend.
   Enrollment of new accounts passed the 11,000 mark during the enrollment period that ended May 31, nearly doubling the total number of accounts.
   The number of accounts now stands at more than 24,000, representing over $160 million invested by Washington families for their children's future college education expenses.
   "There has been a significant increase in interest and participation in the GET program this year," said Betty Lochner, director of the program. "With college tuition increasing by up to 16 percent next year at our Washington public universities, families are realizing the necessity to lock in the cost of their children's future tuition now, with the ability to pay for that cost over a number of years. We expect costs to continue rising, and hope that even more families will open GET accounts for their children when enrollment opens again in September."
   The GET program is a qualified IRS Section 529 program, enabling families to put aside college tuition funds, with a guarantee that their investment will grow at the same rate as Washington public college tuition.
   In addition, the increase in the value of the accounts over time is tax-free when the account funds are used for college education expenses. GET accounts may be used at any accredited college, university, technical or trade school in the country.
   Prepaid college tuition plans, including GET, offer families tax-free growth on their investments, the ability to lock in a payment based on college tuition costs at the time of purchase, and the ability to transfer the value of the accounts among family members.Investments in GET accounts are guaranteed by the state to keep pace with increases in tuition.
   GET accounts also can be effective estate-planning tools, allowing grandparents to fund all or part of their grandchildren's tuition a today's program costs, while removing the funds from their estates.GET accounts may also be used by businesses or non-profit organizations to fund scholarship programs, locking in the cost of the scholarship at current program costs.
   GET is open to any resident of Washington. Once an account is open, anyone may contribute to a GET account. Accounts may accumulate up to 500 GET units, or the equivalent of five years' tuition at Washington's most expensive public college or university.
   Enrollment will be open again on Sept. 15. The cost for units for the next enrollment year will be set in July. For more information, call 1-877-438-8848 or visit the GET web site: www.get.wa.gov.