You might remember being a kid and putting change in your piggybank…
Or saving up your allowance to buy that awesome toy or gadget that you’d always wanted…
But when you’re in high school and getting ready to graduate, thinking about how to pay for something as expensive as college is a whole new ballgame.
However, don’t get discouraged. There are many resources available to Washington students like you who wish to pursue a degree in higher education.
Even better, we’re here to help you take advantage of all the financial aid options that are available to you. Let’s take a look at the four key steps that you should take to finance your education.
You might have heard of the FAFSA, also known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
The FAFSA is how you can receive funding from the federal government for college. This should be your first step in finding tuition aid because the FAFSA is the government's primary way to give out tuition aid to students.
You may have also heard that the FAFSA can be confusing and difficult to fill out. However, we have a step-by-step guide to completing the FAFSA questions that will get you through the form one question at a time.
With our guide, you can make sure you take advantage of the FAFSA and the $150 billion in funding that gets distributed each year in total to students to help pay for tuition.
While the FAFSA is an incredible resource, the state of Washington also has many scholarships and grants that benefit students.
When looking for state funding, a good place to start is the Washington Student Achievement Council website. Here, you can find information on all the programs offered at a state level, including scholarships and grants.
You can also go to the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) website, which is similar to the FAFSA website, and how Washington students (including those with DREAMer status) can apply to receive state financial aid.
Here are some Washington scholarships that might be applicable to you.
Washington scholarships include:
In addition to scholarships, there are also many grants that are offered to Washington residents.
Washington grants include:
Remember, scholarships and grants do not need to be repaid. Therefore, you should try to apply to as many as you can in order to reduce your out-of-pocket tuition costs!
One of your best resources for financial aid info is your high school guidance counselor. Set a reminder on your phone to stop in at least once a month to check on new scholarships that may be offered by local organizations.
The college that you are accepted to can be one of your best financial tools. Most colleges and universities have extensive financial aid opportunities—both need-based and merit-based. Take for example the University of Washington’s Husky Promise program to aid students from low-income and lower-middle income families.
Washington State University maintains a database of scholarships where students can search for scholarships by year, GPA, citizenship, and residency. They also have a Regents Scholars Program, in which each high school in Washington can nominate two distinguished students to apply for a $4,000 scholarship.
As you can see, there are many options even within a single institution, so make sure you look at the financial aid opportunities of all the schools you apply to. You can also conduct your own searches online, using any number of scholarship search websites.
If you still need tuition money after you’ve completed the above three steps, it might be time to consider a private student loan.
However, it can be quite challenging to find the right bank and ensure that you are getting the best rates available. Luckily, we’ve found the best banks for private student loans that can help bridge the gap of your financial aid and your tuition.
When considering private student loans, it can also be useful to know approximately what your loan payments might be after graduation. That’s why we created the NitroScore tool, which is a free, online resource that will help you predict how much of your post-graduation pay will have to be put toward loan payments.
Now that you have these tools to help you make college more affordable, you can be confident that you are one step closer to financing your future!