COVID-19 Resources

Colleges and universities 

Washington’s colleges and universities are adapting as quickly as possible to accommodate students as conditions change. The links below can provide information on admissions and transfer, instructional delivery, and grading--among others. Connect with a campus Student Services office for resources to help with basic needs, childcare, health care, and more.  

Public Four-Years

Public Four-Years

Washington’s public and not-for-profit, private four-year colleges and universities understand the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19 and its impact on students and families. Read their full joint statement here.

COVID-19 Specific Resources

Visit our colleges and universities page to access general information about Washington's four-year public universities.

Private Four-Years

Private Four-Years

Washington’s public and not-for-profit, private four-year colleges and universities understand the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19 and its impact on students and families. Read their full joint statement here.

COVID-19 Specific Resources

Visit our colleges and universities page to access general information about Washington's four-year private universities.

Community and Technical Colleges

Community and Technical Colleges

Get COVID-19 info for each CTC

Visit our colleges and universities page to access general information about Washington's community and technical colleges.

Other

Other

Western Governors University - Washington

Complete lists of: 

 

Educational resources - WSAC’s programs and initiatives 

Education beyond high school gives people more options in life, increasing economic resilience for individuals and communitiesespecially in uncertain times.  

Applying for financial aid 

Applying for financial aid 
  • Get one-on-one help 24/7 from OtterBot. 
    OtterBot uses AI texting to answer high school seniors’ questions about financial aid and college applications. If Otter can’t answer a question, it will connect users to our experts. Learn more.
  • Students should still apply for financial aidit’s not too late! 
    Washington College Grant is the most generous and flexible state financial aid in the country. But students have to apply for financial aid with the FAFSA or WASFA.
  • Have your circumstances changed?
    If your financial status has changed significantly since filing a 2020-21 FAFSA or WASFA, talk to the financial aid office at your college. They may be able to adjust your award and provide more support.
  • Resources for high school seniors 
    Action Plan for Class of 2020 
    Webinars for students and families coming soon! 

Applying to college 

Applying to college 
  • Get one-on-one help 24/7 from OtterBot
    OtterBot uses AI texting to answer high school seniors’ questions about financial aid and college applications. If Otter can’t answer a question, it will connect users to our experts. Learn more.
  • WSAC is updating the state’s policy on minimum college admission standards. 
    In response to COVID-19, WSAC is giving public four-year colleges the option of more flexible admission standards. Read the full policy update to learn more. 
  • Some colleges are modifying admissions requirements in response to COVID-19 limitations. 
    For more information, see the websites and contacts for each campus in this joint statement from Council of Presidents and Independent Colleges of Washington.
Other resources 

Student loan borrowers 

Student loan borrowers
Update as of 3/31/20: 

On March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was signed into law providing new benefits to some federal student loan borrowers. Here are four things that borrowers should know about the CARES Act:

Payment suspension

  • Payments are suspended on all federally held student loans until September 30, 2020. This means that student loan borrowers with Direct loans and some FFEL loans will not be required to make any payments and remain in good standing on their loans.
  • If you have been paying your loans through an automatic payment, then you should cancel this payment so that your payments are not automatically deducted from your bank account.

Interest waiver

  • The Act extends the previous interest waiver for the duration of the payment suspension, or September 30, 2020. Unfortunately, this interest waiver only applies to the same types of loans as the above payment suspension – Direct loans and federally held FFEL loans.

Time in suspension counts toward loan forgiveness and loan rehabilitation

  • Each month that a loan payment is suspended under this law shall be handled as if the borrower had made a payment for the purpose of any loan forgiveness program. This includes borrowers in an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan or Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. For PSLF specifically, you must also remain employed by a public entity for a minimum of 30 hours/week.
  • For borrowers with defaulted loans who were making payments toward rehabilitation, each month during the payment suspension will be treated as a month in which an on-time rehabilitation payment was made, even if no funds were paid.

Credit reporting

  • During this period all suspended payments will be counted as if the borrower had made a regularly scheduled payment, keeping the borrower in good standing.

Collection suspension

  • All involuntary collection of defaulted Direct loans and Department-owned FFEL loans will be suspended until September 30, 2020. This means any non-judicial wage garnishment, tax refund withholdings, and federal benefit garnishment (like Social Security benefits).  

Update as of 3/25/20: 

Today the U.S. Department of Education (The Department) announced two actions. The Department is

1. Stopping collections on defaulted student loans. 
2. Refunding offsets to tax returns that were in process as of March 13, 2020. 

Keep reading for more information about The Department’s actions and guidance from Washington’s Student Loan Advocate. 

Stopping collections 

The Department will stop collections on all defaulted student loans. 

  • This includes any wage garnishment, Social Security benefit garnishment and offset (withholding) of federal tax refunds. 
  • This policy is effective as of March 13th, 2020 and will last for a period of at least 60 days. 
  • Private collection agencies that are under contract with The Department have been instructed to stop all proactive measures to collect on a defaulted loan.
    • This includes phone calls and sending collection letters or billing statements. 

Refunding offsets to tax returns 

The Department will refund any offset that it was in the process of collecting for a defaulted student loan as of March 13, 2020. The Department:

  • Has not given a timeline for returning these funds. 
  • Is relying on employers to comply with this new policy.
    • If you continue to see your wages garnished, contact your employer’s human resources department and inform them the garnishment was lifted as of March 13, 2020. 

Guidance: Get out of default to limit the months of future garnishments 

If you have had your wages or benefit garnished previous to March 13, 2020, and are able to, this is a good time to get out of default. If you can afford it, enter into a rehabilitation plan with your collection agency and make nine monthly small dollar payments every month to work toward getting your loans out of default. 

The benefit to doing this now is that you will be able to limit the months of future garnishments. 

  • After five months of rehabilitation payments, the garnishment is stopped. 
  • You must continue paying to reach the full nine months, and then your loan will be moved from in default to in good standing.
    • The delinquencies will still remain on your credit report. 

Alternatively, you can consolidate your loan to have it taken out of default and resume making payments. For information on how to then suspend your monthly payment on your loan (in good standing) see the update on 3/20/20.

Update as of 3/20/20 

Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced that they will be suspending loan payments for federally held student loans. This is in addition to the interest waiver that the Department announced on 3/13/20. Both policies will be in place for a period of 60 days starting March 13th, 2020. Borrowers must opt in to this suspension of payments. Contact the servicer to ask for a temporary forbearance due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

  • However, borrowers who are more than 31 days delinquent (late) on their loan as of March 13, 2020 will have their payments suspended automatically to prevent default.
  • If you are currently making payments toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), continue to make these payments if you can afford to do so.

Do I have to apply for an interest waiver? 
No. The interest waiver is automatic and is effective as of Friday, March 13th. It may take your servicer up to a week to determine how to operationalize it, but the interest waiver will apply retroactively.

What types of loans qualify? 
The Department of Education has said that any “federally held student loan will have interest waived during this period.” This should include any federal direct loan. It is unclear if this includes Family Federal Education Loans (FFEL) or Perkins loans. It does not include any private student loans.

Should everyone put their loans on pause? 
No. If you can afford to make your payments now, there are three reasons you should continue doing so:

  • The benefits of having no interest mean that any payment you make should go directly to the principal. This means that you could potentially pay off your loan faster.
  • If you’re on an IDR plan, making a payment will put you closer to reaching the end of your repayment period and getting your loans discharged.
  • If you’re working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), then you want to continue making payments so they count toward your 120 qualifying payments.

My hours were cut or my employer shut down. What options do I have to lower or stop my payment? 
There are two options to help you lower or stop your monthly payment due to a decreased income:

  • Sign up for an Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plan. This will base your payment on your current income. If you’re already on an IDR plan, you can ask your servicer to recalculate your monthly payment and complete the form online given your change in income. Your payment on an IDR plan could be as low as $0/month. Any payment you make (even $0/month) will move you closer to repayment or forgiveness of your loan after 20-25 years.
  • Ask for a deferment or forbearance on your loans. This will temporarily suspend or decrease your monthly payment. Given that no interest will be charged right now, there should be no interest to capitalize (add to your principal), so there should be no adverse consequences to requesting this option.

What if I’m on an Income-Driven Repayment plan? 
You can tell your servicer if your income or household size has changed and they can recalculate your payment to reflect your new current financial situation. Your payment will be a percentage of your discretionary income and can be as low as $0/month. These payments are still considered on-time active payments and they will move you closer to the end of your repayment period of 20-25 years. After you have made the equivalent of 20-25 years of monthly payments, then any remaining loan balance you have will be discharged. It will benefit you to make these IDR payments if you can afford them.

What if I’m pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)? 
You should keep making your monthly payments toward your loans as they count toward PSLF. If you can no longer afford your monthly payment, apply to have your monthly payment recalculated and continue making payments to make sure they count toward PSLF. If you lost your employment or had your hours reduced to less than 30 hours/week, then any monthly payment you make will not be eligible for PSLF. You could then ask to have your IDR payment recalculated or request a deferment/forbearance.

What do I do if I can’t reach my loan servicer? 
Contact the Student Loan Advocate at WSAC. The advocate can help you do some of these things without having to call your servicer and can help connect you with someone at your servicer if needed.

Dual credit & high school

Dual credit & high school
  • Guidance concerning high school seniors (OSPI)
    Dual credit, meeting graduation requirements, assessment options, alternative learning settings, how to support seniors' emotional well-being, and more. 
  • Education must continue (OSPI)
    Districts will provide instruction using printed learning materials, phone contact, email, technology-based virtual instruction, or a combination to meet student needs.
  • Colleges, universities, K12 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.

Financial aid programs 

Financial aid programs 

Financial aid payments are a vital resource for students in Washington. WSAC is in frequent communication with financial aid administrators at colleges and universities throughout the state to ensure that students receive the support they need during this crisis. Students and families with questions about financial aid should contact the financial aid office on their college campus. Find COVID-specific information from individual campuses.

College Bound Scholarship

College Bound Scholarship

Is the deadline still the same to sign students up for the College Bound Scholarship? 
8th graders still need to start the application by June 30 but they have until August 31 to complete it. We will communicate any changes to deadlines.

GEAR UP

GEAR UP

Visit the GEAR UP website

GI Bill benefits 

GI Bill benefits 

VA is asking all schools to temporarily refrain from making any adjustments to enrollment certifications if training has changed due to COVID-19. This is to avoid confusion and multiple changes to enrollments. Education Service is preparing guidance for schools that have changes in training modalities and operation statuses due to COVID-19. However, Congress has introduced legislation that, if enacted, will alleviate the impact to GI Bill beneficiaries who switch to solely distance education. 

Transfer

Transfer

Read a joint statement from Washington's baccalaureate universities and colleges regarding community college transfer students.

WA 529

WA 529

Visit the websites for GET and DreamAhead

 

Non-academic resources for students

Student Services offices on campuses can help students connect with these resources as well as others in their local communities. Visit the state's new comprehensive website on the COVID-19 pandemic to find more resources across Washington including financial, food and housing, insurance, well-being, and more.

Basic needs 

Basic general needs
  • Washington Connection 
    Get info and apply for public assistance programs such as: Basic Food benefits, child care supports, Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), housing and utility assistance and more. 
  • Washington 211 
    Find local public and non-profit resources to get help with food, mental health and health care, transportation, utility assistance, and more.   
  • Washington Food Banks
  • COVID-19 Response Resources (The Hope Center)

Internet & technology access 

Internet & technology access

Internet access

People in low-income households may qualify for free broadband internet access if they are eligible for public assistance programs such as the National School Lunch Program, Medicaid, or SNAP. Local libraries, college campuses, K-12 schools, and other organizations may offer wifi that extends into their parking lots.

Technology access

Current college students may be able to check out laptops from their college.

Employment & finances 

Employment & finances
  • Employment Security Department (ESD) 
    Workers and employers affected by COVID-19 can get info and apply for assistance. 
  • Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) 
    Information on mortgage payments, rent payments, student loan deferments, short term and emergency loans, utility payments, and more.
  • Labor & Industries 
    Learn about affects to paid sick leave and workers' compensation 
  • Apply for emergency aid at your college or university. 
    Many colleges offer grant funds, while some offer emergency loans. In the near future, every college that receives federal funding will have emergency grants for students. This will happen after the federal CARES Act funding gets to colleges. Check your school's website for info and contact Student Services or Student Affairs for assistance. 
  • If you had a work-study position on campus:
    Check with your supervisor to see if your college can arrange for virtual work or will pay you for the remainder of the term even though you can't work on campus.
  • File your taxes: Find free tax prep help in your area (IRS). 
    The deadline has been extended until July 15, but applying now may get you cash in the form of a $1,200 recovery rebate or a refund check. You may qualify for a number of refundable tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (if you work and have a low income), or the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC), both of which are for students.  

Recovery rebates (stimulus checks)

Recovery rebates (stimulus checks)

As part of the recently passed federal CARES Act, recovery rebates of up to $1200 per person will be distributed to American taxpayers who submitted a 2018 or 2019 federal tax return or who currently receive Social Security benefits. People with dependents may also receive an additional $500 per child under the age of 17.  

Income-eligible students may receive the rebate if:
1. They are not claimed as a dependent on someone else’s taxes, 
2. They are a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, a lawful permanent resident, or meet the IRS substantial presence test, and
3. They have a work-eligible social security number (SSN).  

Rebates will be sent through direct deposit to the account used on the most recent federal tax return. Students who did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019 (for any reason) can file a tax return to become eligible. The rebate will not be taxed and will not be garnished due to student loan default or owed taxes.  

Health and mental health

Health care
  • Washington Health Benefit Exchange 
    Answers to FAQs and a special open enrollment period for people without insurance until April 8, 2020. 
  • Office of Insurance Commissioner (OIC)  
    Get help with insurance questions about Medicare, Washington Apple Health, Medicaid, and more. 
  • Healthcare access for undocumented folks in the time of COVID-19. Spanish translations are available here.
  • Many support groups have moved online. Search for a virtual option for Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and others. 
  • Caring for your Coronavirus Anxiety: Resources for anxiety and your mental health in a climate of global uncertainty, Resources include managing anxiety about health and finances, talking with your children, social isolation, xenophobia issues, free meditation exercises, and where to get help.
  • If you’re struggling, know that seeking help is a strength—not a weakness. Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7, confidential support to people in crisis.  Or, contact the Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH), which provides crisis counseling and support for anyone in the U.S. experiencing distress or other concerns related to disasters, including public health emergencies. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.

Parent resources

Parent resources 

Undocumented students

Undocumented students

International students 

International students 

Immigration 

Immigration
Accessing healthcare for COVID-19 and public charge test for permanent residency

On March 13, USCIS announced that COVID-19 testing, prevention, or treatment would NOT be used against immigrants in a public charge test. Get more information about accessing healthcare. 

Military communities 

Military communities 

 

Resources for campuses and staff (postsecondary)

Connect your students 

Connect your students

U.S. Department of Education 

Remote learning 

Remote learning

WSAC-Authorized Schools

Authorized Degree-Granting Schools 

WSAC Guidance sent March 13, 2020

 

Additional resources