As a result of the Legislature lowering college tuition rates and the financial markets reaching record highs, the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program is currently operating on a roughly $600 million surplus.
Under Senate Bill 5923, introduced today by Sen. Mark Mullet, D- Issaquah, GET credit holders would be able to take advantage of the increased value of their investments when rolling those funds into the state’s new 529-college savings program.
“This is all about enhancing opportunities for families to save for their children’s futures,” said Mullet. “But all of the options we create have to be reliable and fair. By creating an incentive for people to sign up for the 529 plan, we make that program viable. In the meantime, GET will continue to function as yet another reliable option for saving for college.”
GET credits are valued at $117 per credit in tuition value. However, because of the surge in the markets, those credits are now worth about $140 dollars in cash value. Under Mullet’s bill, GET credit holders would have six months to decide if they want to roll the full cash value of their GET credits into the 529-college savings plan once it opens sometime this summer.
When GET was originally created, it was assumed that college tuition rates would continue to rise year after year. However, the Legislature reduced the cost of tuition statewide in the 2015 operating budget. Since then, the GET marketplace has been temporarily frozen. During this two-year freeze, GET assets have increased because the state effectively invested the money.
Mullet added that this bill is an attempt to reimburse GET customers in a fair manner while ensuring the successful launch of the state’s new 529-college savings plan.
SB 5923 has gained bipartisan support and has been referred to the Senate Higher Education Committee for further consideration.