Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Higher Education Committee

SSB 5749

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Regarding the Washington advanced college tuition payment (GET) program.

Sponsors: Senate Committee on Higher Education & Workforce Development (originally sponsored by Senators Brown, Hewitt and Shin).

Brief Summary of Substitute Bill

  • Changes the membership of the Committee on Advanced Tuition so that members appointed by the Governor serve for four-year terms instead of an unspecified period of time.

  • Makes a variety of changes to tuition units purchased or contracted for purchase on a monthly plan for the Guaranteed Education Tuition program.

  • Requires that these change apply as of August 1, 2011.

Hearing Date: 3/21/11

Staff: Madeleine Thompson (786-7304).


Most states have a form of a "529 Plan" operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs. They are named after section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code which created these types of savings plans in 1996. Washington's Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program was created in 1998 as Washington's prepaid college tuition program.

The GET Program allows purchasers to buy tuition units at current prices for use at a later date. These funds are invested by the State Investment Board and the purchaser is guaranteed that one year's worth of units purchased now will be worth one year's worth of public university tuition in the future and is guaranteed to keep pace with rising tuition. One hundred GET units are equal to one year of resident undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the most expensive public university in Washington.

The Higher Education Coordinating Board administers the GET Program while the State Investment Board oversees its investments. A five-member committee establishes the policies of the program and sets the price of the GET unit, currently $117. GET accounts can be used at nearly any public or private college in the country. Families can buy between one and 500 units per child, and the account will benefit from tax-free growth and withdrawals. Since GET began in 1998, families have opened more than 119,000 accounts and 16,500 students have used their GET accounts in all 50 states.

Summary of Bill:

The two members of the Committee on Advanced Tuition are appointed by the Governor for four-year terms instead of an unspecified period of time.

Various changes are made to the GET program as of August 1, 2011. These changes apply for tuition units purchased or contracted for purchase on a custom monthly plan:

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Preliminary fiscal note available.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.