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Legislature’s Tuition Decisions Could Benefit GET Accounts

Washington’s college savings program is preparing for possible state and federal legislation regarding tuition. The Guaranteed Education Tuition program, GET, is Washington’s 529 prepaid college tuition plan.

State lawmakers may change the year’s tuition rates while crafting the state budget. Democrats have backed two bills to freeze tuition, and republicans authored a bill to lower tuition. Betty Locnner, director of GET, says both are good for families.

Lochner: “Our mission is still to help families save for college so we’ll make administrative adjustments as we need to, to respond to either one of those scenarios.”

Tuition has been frozen at both public Washington universities for three years.

On the federal level, lawmakers are considering a bill to update college savings plans. The measure would allow people to use their 529 plan to buy computers. And Lochner says another piece would help students who have to leave school.

Lochner: “If a student takes a distribution and uses it in college and then something unexpected happens, an illness or a death in a family, and they have to drop out of school, right now that’s a distribution that would be taxable. But this legislation allows them to put the money back into their account without penalty.”

The US House and a Senate committee have approved the measure.

GET enrollment is open to new families until the end of May. The program has paid out $670- million dollars to families and colleges since the 1990s.

Copyright 2015 Spokane Public Radio

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