Families here can lock in college costs

Herald staff

OLYMPIA — Washington state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition program launched its 2000-2001 enrollment year last month, offering what it calls a guaranteed solution to the problem of rising college costs.

The state tuition program lets families lock in college tuition prices for the future by investing now in tuition units, according to director Betty Lochner. For $41 per unit, plus a one-time $50 enrollment fee, families can begin buying a child’s future education.

More than 10,400 families have invested more than $55 million in the program since it began two years ago. The program allows families to purchase college tuition units for future use at any public or private college, university or trade school around the country. A participant need not choose a school at the time of enrollment, because units apply to all accredited higher education institutions that qualify for federal funding.

"Families can purchase as little as one unit, valued today at $41, or up to 500 units, which are equal to a five-year public college education at a school such as the University of Washington," Lochner said. Individual units can be purchased anytime during the Sept. 1-June 15 enrollment year. Between Sept. 1 and Jan. 15, families can customize their purchase plan. For example, a family can purchase five years of tuition for $239 per month paid over 10 years.

Units not used by the intended student are transferable to other family members, or are refundable.

To get more information or to open an account, call 877-438-8848 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., or visit the program’s Web site at www.get.wa.gov.

The one-time $50 nonrefundable application fee (maximum $100 per family) and at least one tuition unit or first monthly payment is needed at the time of application.

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