Legislation authorizing the new Washington College Savings Program passed the Senate late Tuesday night.

SB 6601 permits the Committee for Advanced Tuition Payment (the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Committee) to begin a 529 defined-contribution state savings plan.  The legislation, which was earlier recommended by the five-member GET Committee, provides flexibility for the program to be run through the State Investment Board, in combination with another State 529 plan, or with an outside financial services firm.

“This bill creates an important tool families at all income levels can use to save for college expenses,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, prime sponsor of the bill. “We wanted to increase the options our families have to work with and not limit the specific number of units that can be bought or penalize families that cannot afford to save for their child’s college education until their teen years.”

Frockt added that similar savings accounts have proved successful in other states.

If this legislation passes the full legislature and is signed into law by Gov. Inslee, Washington will join 48 other states in providing its own 529 defined contribution savings plan as an option for residents. Approval of this new savings option does not impact the state’s GET program. SB 6601 also provides a number of provisions designed to inform residents of how the two savings options can work together to provide a more robust college savings plan for families.

“We need to make it as easy as possible for residents of Washington to save money for college,” said Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, original co-sponsor of the bill. “This is a smart and simple proposal that will allow families to invest in their children’s future. As a result, our workforce will grow stronger, benefiting the state and the economy.”

Having passed the Senate with a unanimous vote, the bi-partisan bill (original sponsors included Sens. Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, and Braun, R-Centralia, along with Frockt and Mullet) now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.