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info@wsac.wa.gov | (360) 753-7800
917 Lakeridge Way SW | Olympia, WA 98502

Plan Your Future

Your future awaits.

Want more money and more options? Get more education beyond high school.

  • Start planning your college or career pathway today! Washington has many options and supports to help you get the education or training you need.
  • Financial aid and scholarships are available to keep costs down.
  • High schools and colleges continue to be as flexible as possible about everything from graduation and course requirements to test scores and college admissions.

Learn more and access related resources in the tabs below.

Did you know? Adults with a college degree or certificate:

  • Live longer, healthier lives.
  • Are more likely to stay employed.
  • Are more likely to enjoy their work.
  • Can change careers more easily.
  • Earn around $1 million more over their career than high school graduates.
     

Start planning your college or career pathway today.

Career exploration

Career exploration

The type and level of education you might need varies depending on the job or career you're interested in.

College

College

Washington offers outstanding public and private college options.

  • Every college is different. Keep track of each college's requirements, and make sure you meet deadlines for applications and related materials.
    • Start working on application essays early. Senior year is a busy time! Starting essays now is a great way for juniors to prepare for college applications.
    • Reach out to your counselor and teachers for help gathering application materials, including forms, test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
  • Washington state community and technical colleges (CTCs) offer a wide variety of programs. CTCs are typically open to anyone who has a high school diploma or GED. Students can train to enter into a job directly, complete the first two years of a bachelor's degree and then transfer, or pursue applied bachelor's degrees for specific career fields. 
  • Most Washington colleges no longer require high school seniors to take standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. Check with each college directly for the latest admissions information. 
  • Use the College and Career Compass to help you find campuses that offer educational or job training programs that match your goals and interest.
COVID information & resources

Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship

Looking to step right into a good-paying job? In an apprenticeship, you can earn money while learning a trade.

National service

National service

You can serve your country and community, learn new skills, and get support for your education.

  • U.S. Military: Discover how the Military’s many paths and service commitments can offer a flexible and fulfilling future. The Military offers many educational benefits that service members can take advantage of during or after service. Current high school or college students may have the option to explore military service through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).
  • Americorps: AmeriCorps offers a variety of service opportunities, from the classroom to the outdoors, and everything in between. In addition to gaining professional skills and earning an allowance during service, participants are eligible for an education award upon service completion.

Planning resources

Planning resources

Planning ahead increases options and reduces stress. 

Choose a path

Choose a path

Once you make a choice, confirm that the college or program you plan to attend has everything they need. 

  • Check in with the admissions and financial aid offices. Make sure you know what the enrollment process is and when deadlines occur.
  • Do any necessary paperwork and make sure your file is complete.
  • Submit any required deposits. 
  • Double-check your FAFSA status. You may need to update your tax information or provide additional documentation. If you filed a WASFA, check with the financial aid office to make sure they don't need any additional information.

 

Financial aid and scholarships are available to help.

Applying for aid

Applying for aid

There are affordable college and career training opportunities for everyone. The first, best step is to apply for financial aid

  • Attention seniors! Applications for the 2022-23 school year are now available.
  • File your FAFSA or WASFA financial aid application now. There are many sources of money and kinds of aid available to continue your education—the only way to know for sure if you qualify is to apply.
  • Think you can’t afford college or career education? Think again! Students and families can use the financial aid calculator to estimate potential financial aid. 
  • If you are not eligible to complete the FAFSA due to immigration status, you may still qualify for some state financial aid and scholarships using the WASFA.
  • Juniors, get started on the financial aid process by talking to your parents or guardians about the process and registering for an FSA ID.
  • Don't fall for these common financial aid myths! (Español)
COVID information & resources
  • If someone in your family has lost a job or is working less, colleges may be able to provide more financial aid. Learn more about how to request changes to financial aid if your circumstances have changed.

Application resources and support

Application resources and support
  • The 12th Year Campaign is hosting virtual financial aid info and filing events to help students and families apply for college and financial aid.
  • Seniors who are enrolled in the College Bound Scholarship can sign up for Otterbot, a free texting service designed to help College Bound students navigate financial aid for college and career education. Students can access Otterbot via text message 24 hours a day, seven days a week by texting "Hi Otter" to 360-928-7281.
  • The Washington State Student Loan Education Site provides multiple learning modules to help education consumers better understand higher education costs and considerations.

State financial aid programs

State financial aid programs

Learn more about Washington’s state financial aid programs. Remember, you must attend a participating institution in order to receive state financial aid.

  • The new Washington College Grant gives more money to more students for more kinds of education after high school.
  • If you signed up for College Bound during middle school, now's the time to make sure you can access the College Bound Scholarship.
  • Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) helps eligible students attain a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering, math, and health care through scholarships of up to $22,500. WSOS also offers a quarterly $1,500 scholarship for eligible trade, STEM, or health care programs at community and technical colleges.

Private scholarships

Private scholarships

Private scholarship deadlines occur year-round, and many are available regardless of income.

  • theWashboard.org scholarship search tool is unique to Washington students. This website allows you to create a profile and then be matched with the scholarship opportunities that fit you. It is spam-free and will never sell your information.
  • Beware of scholarship scams! Do not pay any organization or individual to apply for scholarships or scholarship lists. Legitimate scholarships never ask for an application fee.
  • Many colleges provide aid in the form of institutional scholarships or grants. Talk to the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend for more information.

Loans

Loans

Student loans can help pay for college or career training. But it's important to understand the different types of loans and know that if you accept a loan, you will have to pay that money back.

  • The Washington State Student Loan Education Site provides multiple learning modules to help education consumers better understand higher education costs and considerations.
  • Not all loans are created equal:
    • Federal loans are funded by the United States government. Benefits of government loans may include fixed interest rates and income-driven repayment plans not typically offered with private loans. Learn more about federal student loans at studentaid.gov.
    • Private student loans are made by a lender, such as a bank, credit union, or other institution. Private loans are generally more expensive than federal loans.
  • What does it mean if a loan is subsidized or unsubsidized? What is income-based repayment? Get to know financial aid terms with the federal aid glossary.
  • Loans are always optional. Even if your college includes loans in your financial aid package, you don't have to accept the loan in order to enroll. You can pick and choose which parts of your financial aid package to accept. Only borrow if you need to, and only borrow as much as you need.

 

High schools and colleges are being flexible.

  • High schools and colleges continue to be as flexible as possible about everything from graduation and course requirements to test scores and college admissions.
  • Students can still get college credit through dual credit programs during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Transitioning out of high school

Transitioning out of high school

Many high schools are providing flexible or additional options for students to meet requirements in light of the COVID-19 crisis—talk to your counselor for more information.

  • Review the state's high school graduation requirements. Talk to your counselor to make sure you're on track
  • Washington GEAR UP's Graduate Handbook provides next steps for recent high school graduates, including a to-do list, info about college course types, an overview of transfer options, and more.

College admissions

College admissions

College admissions requirements vary, and many policies have been changing. Always check with each college directly for the latest admissions information.

  • Most Washington colleges no longer require high school seniors to take standardized tests like the SAT or ACT.
    • All of Washington's four-year public colleges are permanently test-optional as of fall 2021.
    • All of Washington’s private, not-for-profit four-year colleges offer test-optional pathways, although a few require test scores for students who were home-schooled or received non-standard grades. 
    • So, should students still take the SAT or ACT? There are private scholarships that take test scores into account. And while some test-optional colleges won’t look at test scores, others will consider them if submitted. In that case, not testing won’t hurt, but good scores could help. 
  • Washington’s public two-year community and technical colleges are open access, so anyone with a high school diploma or GED can apply and attend. Test scores and GPAs are not considered.
COVID information & resources

Colleges and universities are being flexible about course requirements, test scores, deadlines, and more. Let the admissions office know if you have special circumstances or questions about how to meet requirements and deadlines during COVID-19.

  • Some individual colleges' websites include admissions information specific to COVID-19
  • Washington’s public four-year colleges and universities have published a COVID-19 FAQ addressing common questions around registration, financial aid, transfer, and admissions.
  • Learn more about the response from private, not-for-profit colleges and universities via the Independent Colleges of Washington, including campus admissions contacts, opportunities for virtual visits, and information for transfer students.

Dual credit

Dual credit

Dual credit programs give students the opportunity to earn high school and college credit simultaneously.

  • Students who earn college credit through dual credit programs are more likely to graduate high school, enroll in college, and complete college degrees.Talk to your counselor for more information.
COVID information & resources
  • Although in-person testing has been suspended, you can still earn exam scores from home for Advanced PlacementInternational Baccalaureate, and Cambridge International.
  • Colleges, universities, K-12 schools, and state agencies in Washington all understand the impact of COVID-19 on dual credit statewide, and they are committed to helping students and their families navigate dual credit programs during these challenging times. Read their full joint statement here.