If you’re from Idaho, you know that you hail from a large but sparsely populated state. But does that mean fewer college opportunities for residents?
Surprisingly, the opposite is the case. In addition to multiple scholarship and grant opportunities (which we’ll discuss in a second), Idaho residents are eligible for reduced tuition at any of 150+ participating universities in surrounding states.
The Western Undergraduate Exchange, better known as WUE (pronounced “woo-wee”), allows residents of 15 collaborating states to pay 150% of the resident tuition cost. Given that non-residents are sometimes charged upwards of 250% resident tuition, the savings from this program can quickly add up for a four-year degree. A list of participating WUE schools can be found here.
Whether you’re looking to go to college in the west, on the East Coast, or anywhere in between, there are a number of ways for Idaho residents to fund a college education. Here are the four steps you should take to fund the next chapter of your life.
The first thing all students and their families should do to be considered for financial aid is fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA.
The FAFSA is, admittedly, sort of a pain in the neck to complete. However, it’s critical that you fill it out carefully because your FAFSA application will determine if you’re eligible for federal or state financial aid. Check out our handy step-by-step FAFSA guide if you have trouble figuring out the best way to answer any question.
The upside of finishing the FAFSA is that you will automatically be considered for:
Some of the federal grants that Idaho residents are considered for after completing the FAFSA are:
You don’t need to know where you’re going to college when you apply for the FAFSA. In fact, some grants and scholarships have deadlines before college admission decisions are made, so it’s a good idea to apply for the FAFSA sooner rather than later.
There are many sources of funding that require a separate application beyond the FAFSA. For example, Idaho residents may be eligible for a number of state-funded scholarships.
Idaho scholarships include:
A complete list of Idaho state-funded scholarships can be found here, provided by the Idaho State Board of Education.
It can be tough to keep track of all the scholarships available to you. Fortunately, your school guidance counselor can be an excellent resource in this area. Set a regular reminder to check in with your counselor to stay informed about local, statewide, and national scholarships you should be applying for.
Many colleges offer school-specific scholarships that require a separate application. For example, Boise State University, one of the largest schools in Idaho, offers 37 scholarships for students of varying academic interests, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Brigham Young University-Idaho, Idaho State University, Lewis-Clark State College, and the University of Idaho all offer a variety of scholarships for incoming students as well.
Some schools will automatically consider students for scholarships when they apply, but most scholarships require some additional information. Spend some time searching school websites and calling their financial aid offices directly to learn about scholarships you may be eligible for.
Some additional resources that you might find useful are:
You should also try doing a couple of searches online for scholarships that might be uniquely suited for you. Websites like scholarships.com and Sallie Mae’s Scholarship Search allow you to search for scholarships by location, background, extracurricular interests and more.
Additionally, Nitro is proud to offer our Nitro Scholarship and Nitro Parent Scholarship. Both scholarships award $5,000 to new winners each quarter. You can even win $1,000 just for encouraging a friend to apply.
Even after you’ve applied for grants, scholarships, and federal loans, you may find that you still need some financial assistance to cover the cost of your education. Our list of the best banks for private student loans can help you determine which trusted lender will give you the best rate.
Before taking out any private loans, use our free NitroScore tool to see if a private loan is a good idea for your unique situation.Plug in your school, major, and your available funds to pay for your degree. Our tool will then give you a score based on how much you will need in private loans and how feasible it will be to pay those totals off after graduating.
No matter where you want to earn your degree, going to college should be an option for all Idaho residents. Make the most of the resources you have and start planning today.