How to Apply for Financial Aid
There are resources and support to help you apply for financial aid
There are affordable college and career training opportunities for everyone. The first, best step is to apply for financial aid. Not sure where to start? Talk to someone you can trust:
- The 12th Year Campaign is hosting virtual financial aid info and filing events to help students and families apply for college and financial aid.
- Are you a high school student? Your counselor can answer questions and direct you to resources.
- Talk to the financial aid office at any colleges you're interested in attending. Whether you're an adult thinking about going back to school or a high school student considering your options, financial aid staff can help you navigate the process based on your circumstances.
Complete a financial aid application
In Washington, there are two different applications for financial aid, but you only need to file one:
- File the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) if you are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
- File the WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid) if you are not eligible to complete the FAFSA due to immigration status, defaulted federal loans, or other issues with federal aid. Learn more and apply on the WASFA page.
You should apply for financial aid as soon after October 1 as possible. Do not wait until you are admitted to apply.
You do not need to know whether or where you plan to go to school or what programs you might be interested in to file for financial aid.
Some colleges may have additional financial aid forms for you to complete. Check their website or contact their financial aid office to find out. Once you are admitted, talk to each college's financial aid office to ensure your application information is received accurately and on time.
Think you don't qualify for financial aid? Think again.
The new Washington College Grant gives more money to more students
The new, nationally recognized Washington College Grant (formerly the State Need Grant) makes education and training beyond high school affordable. As of 2020-21, more low- and middle-income families now qualify. Learn more about the Washington College Grant.
Are you a Washington resident student?
Washington resident students are eligible to pay in-state tuition and get state financial aid. Both U.S. citizens and non-citizens, including undocumented students, can be Washington residents. In most cases, a Washington resident is a person who lives in the state for one year immediately before starting a college or program and has a high school diploma (or equivalent). But, there are many other ways to be a Washington resident. Learn more on WSAC's Student Residency web page.
Estimate your award with the financial aid calculator
Students and families can use the financial aid calculator to estimate potential financial aid. 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 complete a financial aid application.
How your financial aid award is calculated
Colleges use the data provided in your financial aid application to determine your eligibility for aid. Your financial need, as determined by the college, is the difference between the amount it will cost you to go to school—the Cost of Attendance (COA)—and your family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC takes into consideration your family income/assets, family size, and number of family members in college.
While the calculation for aid eligibility is complicated, the easiest way to find out if you qualify is to apply!
Have your circumstances changed?
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.