Refresh my memory: How exactly does GET work?

Think of it as a stable stock market for college. Pay money into the program when your children are young, and it’s guaranteed to appreciate at the same rate tuition increases.

Is there a minimum I have to invest? 

No. You buy credits, one of which is worth 1 percent of a year’s tuition at the most expensive state school. Buy as few (or as many, up to 500) as you want over time, and no matter how much tuition increases, they’ll still each be worth 1 percent of a year’s tuition at the time you cash them in.

How is this any different from me investing in the stock market?

Like the name says—Guaranteed Education Tuition—it’s guaranteed. The state invests your money into stocks and bonds, but even if the market craters, the GET program is obligated to pay out, whether by pulling from the state’s general fund, cutting costs elsewhere, or some other mechanism.

I remember reading that GET ran into some financial trouble.

It’s true; after the 2008 financial meltdown, GET’s solvency dipped below 80 percent, meaning that if every single GET purchaser cashed in their credits at the same time, the fund could only pay 80 percent of them. Since then the program has regained solvency and even built a little buffer.

What if my child decides to go to an out-of-state school?

Not to worry. But if it costs more to send Junior to that school than it would to the most expensive Washington school at that time, you’ll have to pay the balance. So brainwash him early.
 


 

By The Numbers:


6.9: The average age of a child when enrolled in GET

$2.37 billion: Total value of the state's GET fund

~200: Credits in the average GET account

157,556: Number of children enrolled in GET since the program's inception in 1998

$172: The current cost of a single GET credit

 

 

 


 

Is GET worth it? 

The program takes away some of the sting of college, but not a ton. It's better to think of it as an insurance plan than as a high-yield investment.

✔︎   Buy 400 GET credits today 
       $68,800
       (At $172 per credit)

▢  Buy 400 GET credits over 18 years 
      $125,064
      (At $172 per credit, plus 7.5 percent annual finance fee)

▢  Save on Your Own 
      $134,163
      (Assuming a 5 percent annual tuition increase at UW)

 

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