Life is full of firsts – a first laugh; a first cry; a first word. One of life’s great joys is to watch these ‘firsts’ unfold in the lives of our loved ones.
Amidst all of life’s ups and downs it is important to be mindful of the ‘firsts’ yet to come, such as a child’s first day of school, first job, and first year of college.
The ideal time for families to begin saving for college also happens to be one of the most challenging times to get started – when kids are elementary age or younger. When kids are young, you may spend the majority of your time just keeping up with everything that is going on in the moment as they grow and develop at a breakneck pace.
College may seem far off, and with so much to do now, it becomes easy to convince yourself that there is all the time in the world to get started. The problem is, it keeps getting easier to say that as time goes on.
Before long you may wake up, start helping your high school junior start looking at colleges, and you’re suddenly asking the question, “How are we going to pay for this?”
The key to being prepared is to start saving early, make regular contributions, and choose a savings option that will help you meet your goals. To do this, many families prefer state-sponsored 529 plans specifically designed to save for college expenses. In Washington, thousands of families have turned to Washington’s 529 plan: the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program.
GET helps you start saving when your kids are young, and makes it easy to keep adding as they grow. Accounts enjoy tax-free growth and withdrawals, and keep pace with tuition and state-mandated fees at Washington’s highest-priced public university. In short, if you purchase a year of college tuition today through GET, the State of Washington guarantees it will be worth one year of tuition whenever your child is ready to attend college.
As many parents can attest, it is impossible to know where children’s ambitions might take them, and the freedom for them to choose their own path is priceless. That’s why GET participants take comfort in knowing that GET does not limit a student’s choices to Washington schools.
Students can use GET at public and private universities, community colleges and technical schools nationwide. Since the program opened in 1998, over 51,000 students have used more $1 billion in benefits to help pay for tuition, room and board, books, supplies, and other expenses at schools nationwide and in 15 other countries.
Knowing that families often find it difficult to fit college savings into already strained budgets, GET offers a variety of options that make saving simple, easy and flexible, including pay-as-you-go (lump sum) deposits to custom monthly payment plans.
A GET account is also a great place for grandparents, other relatives, and friends to contribute towards a child’s future. Consider forgoing some birthday and holiday presents and requesting that friends and family make a small contribution towards the gift of education.
Kids grow up fast. One minute they’re crawling across the floor, the next they’re walking across a stage receiving their diploma. Consider taking the time to prepare for their future today so that you can relax and enjoy watching them follow their aspirations, experiencing all of life’s little ‘firsts’ along the way.
GET’s enrollment window runs from Nov. 1 until May 31, and newborns up to their first birthday may be enrolled throughout the year.