Financial Aid in Washington
Ways to pay for college and career training
If you or your child are planning for college and/or career training, you’ve likely already had questions and conversations about how you’re going to pay for it. You’re not alone, especially if you’re feeling like the lists of instructions and necessary documents are too intimidating and time-consuming. Fortunately, there are resources available for you in this necessary first step of planning for education. Applying for financial aid is the only way to know for sure whether you or your student qualifies to receive scholarships, grants, or loans.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures, high schools and colleges are being flexible about everything from graduation requirements to SAT/ACT testing. Even your financial aid may be adjusted if your circumstances have changed. Washington Student Achievement Council has resources for students applying for financial aid amidst this public health crisis, available here.
Financial aid isn’t just for those seeking a four-year degree. Washington state has money set aside every year to help eligible students pay for college and career training, but thousands of students miss out on the opportunity because they don’t apply. Thanks to new legislation passed in 2019, more families are now eligible for aid, and more programs and types of credentials are included. And the Washington College Grant guarantees funding for eligible students, no matter when they apply. You can start your application today!
Applying for financial aid is the first step every student should take when planning for education after high school.
Here are some resources to get you started:
Gather what you need to start your Financial Aid application today.
It’s never too late to apply, it’s free, and most people finish in about half an hour. You and your student can start the application now, save it, and come back to it later. Apply for Financial Aid today. To finish, your student will need some information about their finances and yours, if you are their parent. Click here to learn about whose information your student will need.
Here’s a list of documents and information you can look at with your student for what they need to gather, but it’s okay if you don’t have all of this right now, or if you’re not sure how to get it. You may be able to have your tax information imported from federal tax offices (IRS), if applicable.
Washington provides Financial Aid to undocumented students.
¿Eres un estudiante de Washington que no califica para recibir ayuda financiera federal por tu condición de inmigrante? Puedes calificar para recibir ayuda financiera del estado.
Washington State offers financial aid programs to students who aren’t eligible for federal financial aid because of immigration status. These students still need to meet other program requirements. To find out if you qualify, you and your student can complete the free WASFA to apply for state financial aid. If your student is a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, they can complete the federal free FAFSA form.
It’s okay to have a lot of questions about Financial Aid.
You’re not alone - and there are people available who are trained to help you through it. If your student is still in high school, start by talking with their school counselor. If you’d rather go outside of school, you have options:
- Contact your local school counselor
- Call or email the Student Financial Assistance department at Washington Student Achievement Council at 888.535.0747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Call or email College Possible Washington at 206-400-6886 or WAinfo@CollegePossible.org
- Text 'Hi Otter' to 360-928-7281 to receive texts from the Financial Aid Otterbot.
Financial Aid comes in many forms.
It’s not just about student loans - there are grants, scholarships, and work-study programs too! Grants and scholarships are “gift aid,” which means you never have to pay them back.
Washington is giving away free Financial Aid money.
The new, nationally recognized Washington College Grant (formerly called the State Need Grant) makes education and training beyond high school affordable. Beginning this year, more families are eligible, and more programs and types of credentials are included. And the Washington College Grant guarantees funding for eligible students, no matter when they apply.
There is no separate application for the Washington College Grant.Your family’s eligibility is determined by the financial tax information submitted on the FAFSA or WASFA. By filling out your Financial Aid application, you will automatically be considered. Also, no matter when you apply for financial aid, it's never too late for the Washington College Grant. This grant funding will not go away. It's guaranteed by the statea and protected from budget cuts. So start your application now!
The College Bound Scholarship program is an early commitment of free state financial aid to eligible students who sign up in middle school and fulfill the scholarship pledge. You and your student must fill out this separate application when they are in 7th or 8th grade if they meet one of the following requirements:
- During 7th or 8th grade, family household income from all sources is less than or equal to the amounts on the chart below.
- The student is currently in foster care or a dependent of the state
- Your family receives SNAP/Basic Food Assistance or TANF benefits
- COVID-19 UPDATE: A special exception to the College Bound Scholarship deadlines will be made for students required to sign a pledge to establish eligibility during eighth or ninth grade in the 2019-20 school year. The deadline will now be extended to November 30, 2020, from its original June 1, 2020 date.
Scholarships are one of the most commonly known types of financial aid, but they are far from the only type. They often require their own separate application, either through the school you’ve chosen to go to or through the scholarship website. Regardless, many school-based and school-funded scholarships require students to submit a FAFSA or WASFA form for consideration.
Financial Aid is for you.
No matter how much your family income is or what your grades are, you should still apply for financial aid. You won’t know what you qualify for until you apply.
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