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Aim Higher Washington

How We Can Aim Higher for Washington's Students and FamiliesAim Higher Washington Logo

Washington Lags Behind Most States in Financial Aid Applications and College Enrollment 

We know that education after high school is critical today, but year after year since 2014, only about 60% of Washington's high school graduates are going on to directly enroll in postsecondary education. Washington State has a goal that 70% of adults will have a postsecondary degree or credential, but that number today stands at 56%. Affordability barriers limit access to postsecondary programs—apprenticeships, college, and certificate programs—for many Washington students and families. 

The exciting expansion of college affordability provided by the new Washington College Grant provides an opportunity to make students and families aware of the financial aid available to them. More families are eligible for state aid, and more programs and types of credentials, including apprenticeships, are covered.

The first step in accessing this support is filling out a financial aid application—either the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or the WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid, which supports undocumented individuals). Although Washington consistently ranks in the top three states in the country for the strength and generosity of our state financial aid system, we also consistently rank in the bottom five states for FAFSA completion.  

Aim Higher's Work

Aim Higher Washington is an ambitious initiative to increase equity in postsecondary attainment by supporting a statewide college-going culture through early, accessible, pathway-relevant support of financial aid application (FAFSA and WASFA) completion. The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) is leading the effort, with help from the Council of Presidents, the Independent Colleges of Washington, the State Board of Community and Technical CollegesCollege Promise Coalition, the Association of Washington School Principals, Washington Education Association, community leaders, colleges, universities, and other partners. 

Outreach & Events

Outreach & Events
  • Aim Higher is offering free trainings and strategy sessions in partnership with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), Council of Presidents (COP), and Independent Colleges of Washington (ICW). These trainings will cover content-based areas such as financial aid basics and financial aid application navigation. A series of strategy sessions to support implementation of what is learned in the content-based trainings will also be offered. Find out more and register today!
  • The 12th Year Campaign helps Washington seniors apply for college and complete the FAFSA or WASFA. The campaign provides a host of resources, including financial aid information and training, statewide virtual financial aid completion events, and free print and digital materials for students, families, educators, and advocates.
  • Otterbot is a free texting service created to support high school seniors who have signed up for the College Bound Scholarship. Otter sends financial aid info and reminders to College Bound seniors. Students can access Otterbot via text message 24 hours a day, seven days a week by texting "Hi Otter" to 360-928-7281.

Digital Resources

Digital Resources
  • WSAC’s College and Career Compass is an interactive tool that provides students of all ages the opportunity to explore and connect with campuses that offer educational or job training programs that match their goals and interests.
  • The Financial Aid Toolkit provides resources supporting the financial aid application process, with specific guidance on how different audiences can use the tools.
  • The Plan Your Future web page serves as a one-stop-shop for all things related to the postsecondary transition for high school juniors and seniors.
  • The WSAC Portal provides educators with student-level completion data for increased outreach and engagement, with a new, in-depth FAFSA Completion Dashboard.

Get Involved

Get Involved
  • Sign your school or district up to be a 12th Year site, helping students and families apply for college and financial aid.
  • Spread the word through your communications channels. Sign up for WSAC Updates to receive plug-and-play messaging for students and families about financial aid, college planning, and more.
  • Join the Aim Higher campaign as a partner. We are asking educators—teachers, counselors, principals, and administrators—along with colleges, community-based organizations, businesses, and local elected officials to help with the campaign. If you are interested in become an Aim Higher partner, email for more information.