Penalty-free refunds coming to GET holders

Drew Mikkelsen reports

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Tuition cuts are triggering refunds for account holders in Washington's Guaranteed Education Tuition program (GET).

The GET Committee authorized penalty-free withdrawals for account holders, effective Wednesday.

The committee also approved a measure to refund account holders who have paid more than $117 per unit.

GET Director Betty Lochner recommended the changes to committee members Tuesday in Olympia.

She said tuition reductions were never part of the program's assumptions.

Washington lawmakers established the GET program in 1997 to help parents prepare for rising college tuition rates.

Since 1998 account holders have been able to lock-in tuition rates at when they start purchasing credits.

In June lawmakers passed a budget that cuts tuition at all state universities and colleges over the next two years.

The move raised concerns about some account holders losing money on what were supposed to be "guaranteed" purchases.

As a result of the upcoming tuition cuts, last month the committee voted to allow amortization fee refunds for anyone who bought GET credits after 2011.

All new lump sum sales were also frozen for the next two years.

According to GET officials, there are more than 130,000 active account holders.

GET customers will receive emails informing them of the changes.

They will also be advised to consult with financial advisors before making any withdrawal or refund decisions.


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