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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 help manage costs.
  • You can get support! Talk to someone in your local college admissions office, a counselor at your high school, or a mentor in your community about your choices and goals.

Learn more and access related resources in the tabs below.

Did you know? People who get career training or have a college degree:

  • 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.
  • Do a virtual campus visit to check out colleges.

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.

 

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! Starting college or training next fall? Apply now for 2024-25 financial aid.
      • Confused about the new FAFSA? There have been some technical issues and delays this year, as well as changes to the form. Don't give up! Financial aid is available, but you do need to apply. Get help navigating the 2024-25 FAFSA.
    • 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)
    • Times are tough...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 OtterBot" 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 Washington College Grant (WA Grant) gives more money to more people for more kinds of education and training beyond 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. WSOS also offers a quarterly 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.

     

    Get support and access resources

    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.

    Transitioning out of high school

    Transitioning out of high school

    Making the jump from high school to college or career training is a huge step, but you can do it!

    College admissions

    College admissions

    Colleges are making big changes to help Washington students access and apply for college.

    • Test-optional admissions: 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.
      • 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. 
    • Guaranteed college admissions: Some public and private four-year colleges guarantee admission to qualified students. Requirements vary but typically include meeting certain high school course requirements and graduating above a specified GPA level. Students still need to apply and complete the admissions process.
    • Open-admission colleges: Washington’s public two-year community and technical colleges are open access. Anyone with a high school diploma or GED can apply and attend. Test scores and GPAs are not considered. Just visit the website for the college of your choice and follow its steps to enroll. Registration is open year-round, so it’s never too late to get started!

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