(1) The committee may establish a college savings program. If such a program is established, the college savings program shall be established, in such form as may be determined by the committee, to be a qualified state tuition program as defined by the internal revenue service under section 529 of the internal revenue code, and shall be administered in a manner consistent with the Washington advanced college tuition payment program. The committee, in planning and devising the program, shall consult with the state investment board, the state treasurer, the state actuary, the legislative fiscal and higher education committees, and the institutions of higher education. The governing body may, at its discretion, consult with a qualified actuarial consulting firm with appropriate expertise to evaluate such plans for periodic assessments of the program.
(2) Up to two hundred thousand dollars of administrative fees collected from guaranteed education tuition program participants may be applied as a loan to fund the development and start-up of a college savings program. This loan must be repaid with interest before the conclusion of the biennium following the biennium in which the committee draws funds for this purpose from the advanced college tuition payment program account.
(3) The committee, after consultation with the state investment board or other contracted investment manager, shall determine the investment policies for the college savings program. Program contributions may be invested by the state investment board, in which case it and not the committee shall determine the investment policies for the college savings program, or the committee may contract with an investment company licensed to conduct business in this state to do the investing. The committee shall keep or cause to be kept full and adequate accounts and records of the assets of each individual participant in the college savings program.
(4)(a) The governing body may elect to have the state investment board serve as investment manager for the funds in the college savings program. Members of the state investment board and its officers and employees are not considered an insurer of the funds or assets and are not liable for any action or inaction.
(b) Members of the state investment board and its officers and employees are not liable to the state, to the fund, or to any other person as a result of their activities as members, whether ministerial or discretionary, except for willful dishonesty or intentional violations of law. The state investment board in its discretion may purchase liability insurance for members.
(c) If selected by the governing body to be the investment manager, the state investment board retains all authority to establish all investment policies relating to the investment of college savings program moneys.
(d) The state investment board shall routinely consult and communicate with the committee on the investment policy, earnings of the accounts, and related needs of the college savings program.
(5) The owner has exclusive authority and responsibility to establish and change the asset allocation for an individual participant college savings program account.
(6) Neither the state nor any eligible educational institution may be considered or held to be an insurer of the funds or assets of the individual participant accounts in the college savings program created under this section nor may any such entity be held liable for any shortage of funds in the event that balances in the individual participant accounts are insufficient to meet the educational expenses of the institution chosen by the student for which the individual participant account was intended.
(7) The committee shall adopt rules to implement this section. Such rules shall include but not be limited to administration, investment management, recordkeeping, promotion, and marketing; compliance with internal revenue service standards and applicable securities regulations; application procedures and fees; start-up costs; phasing in the savings program and withdrawals therefrom; deterrents to early withdrawals and provisions for hardship withdrawals; and reenrollment in the savings program after withdrawal.
(8) The committee may, at its discretion, determine to cease operation of the college savings program if it determines the continuation is not in the best interest of the state. The committee shall adopt rules to implement this section addressing the orderly distribution of assets.