There are a variety of ways to finance your post-high school education through scholarships, grants, loans, or other types of financial aid.
All seniors interested in receiving financial aid (and many scholarships) should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Washington Application for Student Financial Aid (WASFA) as soon as possible after it opens on October 1st of their senior year. This is NOT just for low-income families, as it is based on both income and the number of people in the household. Students who do not qualify for the Pell Grant may qualify for a federal loan. And starting in 2020, students who complete the FAFSA will automatically be considered for the Washington College Grant (WCG) for low- and middle-income families. Completing the FAFSA or WASFA is the ONLY way to access the WCG.
U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens will complete the FAFSA. The student and one parent each need an FSA ID, so start here https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/sign-in/landing. Note that if the parent does not have a Social Security Number (SSN), they still need an FSA ID, so enter all zeros in the SSN field. Next, start your FAFSA at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa. Even if you think you might not qualify for aid, always complete the FAFSA. It is worth the time and effort.
Non-citizens such as DACA recipients and others may qualify for the same amount via the WASFA. Go to https://wsac.wa.gov/wasfa
Many websites exist detailing the financial aid process. The Washington Student Achievement Council does the best job of putting financial aid in simple terms, with links to more complex topics if this information is what you are looking for.
We strongly recommend students and parents attend our annual financial aid night, typically held in late December. Please consult the Career Center calendar for details as the date approaches.
Many scholarships are offered throughout the year, with late winter/early spring being the prime time to apply.
Criteria for winning a scholarship are quite varied, and can include one or more of the following:
- academic achievement
- financial need
- a specific college
- location of college
- area of study / major
- ethnicity / race
- community service
Scholarship information is also available in the College & Career Center. The C&CC Specialist can assist you with your scholarship search.
Letters of Recommendation Forms
Almost all scholarship applications require one to three letters of recommendation from teachers and/or someone outside of school. Colleges and employers may ask for them as well. This is the process to follow when asking a staff member.
Do your own search: List of search sites (PDF)
How to best use the scholarship list
- Read the Notes column. It contains eligibility information and more.
- Check the Due column. Is there still time to gather everything needed and submit the application on time?
- Follow the link under Site. It will take you to more details. Is an essay required? Letter(s) of recommendation? Official transcripts? A specific format for submission (paper copy, online application, or scanned, then e-mailed)?
Resources for Undocumented Students
WASFA - Washington Application for State Financial Aid
Eligibility for the Washington State Need Grant has expanded to low-income, non-citizen students who meet the program’s income and residency requirements. Students unable to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) due to immigration status may instead complete the free Washington Application for State Financial Aid. The Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) is for undocumented students who are unable to apply for federal aid. The application opens every year on October 1.
This website hosts the nation's largest college access and success program for DREAMers.
Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Scholarships & programs for Latino/a youth. Documented and/or undocumented.
Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund
Resources for paying for college, including a booklet of scholarships that may or may not need documentation.