A state agency that originally planned to send $51 million in Guaranteed Education Tuition refund checks in November is running about three months behind.
The state is running three months behind in issuing $51 million in refund checks to people who paid too much when they bought into the state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) plan.
The state agency that oversees the prepaid-tuition plan originally said it would refund the money by November. Now, the checks likely won’t be issued until late February, Dan Payne, GET marketing and communications specialist, said in an email.
“There have been many factors to consider, including the different amortization amounts charged each year, and the diversity of customer accounts,” Payne said.
Because the refunds are so complex, the state has been testing the process before releasing payments so that all investors get the correct refund, he said. GET uses an outside vendor to manage its accounts.
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Payne said GET investors will be notified as soon as the state has set a delivery date for the checks.
In August, the committee that oversees GET approved a refund to investors who bought GET units between 2012 and 2015. Those investors paid an additional fee, averaging $20 a unit, to help the fund recover financially after it was hit by the double-whammy of a falling stock market and rapidly increasing tuition during the recession.
Then in 2015, the calculation changed when the Legislature cut tuition rates and froze the GET payout at $117 per unit for the foreseeable future, a decision that had the effect of putting GET on firm financial footing. The committee that manages GET voted to refund the additional fee, which it has called an amortization fee.
Payne said 43,770 accounts will receive amortization refunds.
Investors also have the option to cash out their GET credits entirely. That process also hit a snag this January, when about 40 people received a total of $14,000 more in refund money than they should have received, due to a coding error, and were asked to return the money. Investors have until December to decide whether to stay in GET, or ask for a full refund.
The program is currently frozen to new lump-sum investments. Meanwhile, the state Legislature is considering a bill that would create a Washington-run 529 savings plan for college investments.