The Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program announced that it will allow redemptions of customer accounts without penalty, so long as the account balances are rolled into a 529 plan within 60 days or used for current qualified education expenses. The GET program is also waiving the two-year holding period.
The value of a GET unit is tied to the highest college tuition cost of public colleges in Washington State; with broad reductions in costs from the recent passage of the College Affordability Act, the corresponding value of each GET unit would go down if it remained linked to that cost. In response, the GET program has announced that unit values will remain at the current redemption value until the tuition rate for public state colleges exceeds the current value. With tuition levels expected to drop by an average of 10%, it would take a substantial increase in cost to get back to the current level.
Current redemption value for each GET unit is $117, and for each unit purchased at $117 or less the holder will receive $117 per unit. This means that any units purchased in 2011 will be redeemed at the exact cost of purchase. Units purchased prior to 2011 will also receive the current appreciated value.
The current purchase price of GET units is higher than the current redemption value since the GET program is purchasing a future inflated education benefit, so units purchased in 2012 cost $163 each and units purchased from 2013 to 2015 cost $172. Those unit owners who bought at $163 or $172 per unit will receive a full refund if they redeem but no appreciation in value.
With the lack of appreciation in GET unit redemption value since 2011 and the high likelihood that units purchased in 2012 and beyond will take a significant number of years to appreciate in value, we believe that it will be in the best interest of GET unit owners to strongly consider redemption now. Once the redemptions are rolled into another qualified 529 plan the owners can then elect a more traditional investment allocation based on the risk profile and timeframe of the account beneficiary.
The redemption period is now open and will be made available until December of 2016. Full details and redemption forms are available at www.get.wa.gov.
If you have questions about your own GET units, we encourage you to contact us and discuss your situation before you make an election. This is an opportunity to retrieve your GET investment without penalty and explore other options for college savings.