Senate tuition-cut proposal good for families and GET program

Senators John Braun and Barbara Bailey meet with students, April 8, 2015.After Sen. John Braun introduced legislation to cut tuition at state colleges and universities some questions arose regarding the bill’s effects on Washington State’s Guaranteed Education Tuition program. Opponents of the proposal have erroneously stated the measure would reduce the value of credits already purchased through the state GET program.

“I understand the concerns that have been raised but a close read of the bill puts those concerns to rest,” said Braun, R-Centralia. “The language is very clear that this legislation holds the value of GET for those who have already invested. The concept is similar to a stock split so that the reduction in tuition doesn’t adversely affect current GET holders. Our proposal holds these people harmless and is a long-term policy solution that ends the days of skyrocketing tuition.”

As a result of the tuition freeze instigated by the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus during the 2013-15 school years, the GET program went from an unfunded liability in the hundreds of millions of dollars to maintaining a significant surplus of over $160 million. Under the most recent Senate proposal to cut tuition by an average of 25 percent, the GET program will go from currently 106 percent funded to over 130 percent funded – a significant turnaround from a few short years ago, when there was talk in Olympia of doing away with the program.

“The bottom line is that this proposal is good for families that have purchased GET credits and the program as a whole,” said Braun. “Students and families will get more value under our proposal and it will mean more affordability for all students trying to pay for college.”

GET is a state-run 529 prepaid college-tuition plan which ‘is guaranteed to keep pace with tuition and state-mandated fees at Washington’s highest priced public university,’ according to the program’s website.