Washington College Grants: Options and How to Apply

 June 30, 2020
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Almost half of students who attend college in Washington graduate with student loan debt, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.

Washington state grants for college are a great alternative. Find out what Washington student grants exist and how you can apply. We’ll also cover scholarship and work-study program options that can be just as valuable.

Washington state grants for college

Washington student grants are one of the best ways to pay for college. Unlike other forms of financial aid, such as federal and private student loans, you almost always don’t have to repay the money you receive in grants. Even better, you can apply for and receive multiple grants to reduce your total education cost.

When it comes to Washington, there’s one state-offered grant available.

Washington College Grant

The Washington College Grant (WCG), which replaced the similar State Need Grant in 2019, provides money to students who have financial need and are pursuing a post-secondary education within the state.

Like many other state grants for college, your pre-tax household income must be less than a set dollar amount, as determined by your family size.

Family size Annual income
1 $33,500
2 $43,500
3 $54,000
4 $64,000
5 $74,500
6 $85,000
7 $86,500
8 $88,500
9 $90,500
10 $92,500

Washington student grant recipients can receive up to $10,748 per year, depending on their choice of Washington school and whether they’re enrolled full-time.

If you’re not pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you might still qualify for the grant. Four-year schools, two-year colleges and some career and technical schools are eligible.

Washington doesn’t require a special application for the WCG. All you need to do to apply is complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

However, if you cannot complete the FAFSA because of your immigration status, you might still be able to qualify for the WCG. You can apply for the grant by completing the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WAFSA).

Also, keep in mind that Washington student grants can be found beyond the state government. The best places to find money for college include your school, as well as private and nonprofit organizations like the Seattle Foundation.

Other state-offered financial aid

Washington state grants for college should actually be singular, but the Evergreen State has other forms of financial aid available, including scholarships and work-study programs.

Scholarships

Washington state provides three scholarships to students in need.

1. College Bound Scholarship

The College Bound Scholarship is offered to low-income students who might otherwise be unable to afford a college education. Exact award amounts vary, but the scholarship covers the cost of tuition, some fees and a book allowance.

The College Bound program works differently than many other scholarships. While most awards require you to apply in your last year of high school, the College Bound Scholarship requires each family to complete and submit the application materials by June 30 of the student’s eighth-grade year — proof that it’s never too early to start saving for college.

Then, the student must meet the financial aid eligibility requirements and complete the FAFSA or WASFA in their senior year of high school.

2. Passport to College Promise Scholarship

Students who were in foster care can receive up to $4,500 through the Passport to College Promise Scholarship. For the 2018-2019 school year, approximately 316 students attending some of the state’s 45 eligible schools received the award.

The money can be used to cover not only tuition and fees but also housing, transportation and some personal expenses, such as clothing and rain gear.

To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:

  • After your 14th birthday, you must have been in foster care in Washington state, or have experienced “unaccompanied homeless” during the previous year.
  • You must enroll in college at least half-time by your 22nd birthday.
  • You must be a Washington state resident.
  • You cannot pursue a degree in theology.
  • You must be working toward an apprenticeship, certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree.

To apply, complete the Passport consent form.

3. American Indian Endowed Scholarship

Students who have financial need and close social or cultural ties to an American-Indian community in Washington might qualify for $500 to $2,000 through the renewable American Indian Endowed Scholarship.

To qualify, eligible undergraduate and graduate students must do the following:

  • Complete the scholarship application form.
  • Attach a detailed statement describing your connection to an American-Indian community in the state.
  • Attach a separate statement explaining how you’ll use your education to benefit the American-Indian community in Washington.
  • Attach your transcripts from the past five years of school.
  • Attach at least three letters of recommendation.
  • Complete the FAFSA.

Make sure you review the detailed application instructions for scholarship information.

Washington work-study program

Like federal work-study, the Washington work-study program is for low- and middle-income students attending one of the 54 eligible schools in the state. Students who qualify for the program get an approved on- or off-campus job with a participating employer to help pay for school.

One of 13 state-based work-study programs, Washington’s helped working students earn a combined $12.1 million to put toward school costs for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Image from wsac.wa.gov

To participate in the work-study program, you must be a Washington resident. You must not be in default on any state or federal student loans and you must enroll in an eligible program.

You must also make satisfactory academic progress toward a degree. If you don’t attend class, you could be forced to repay some or all of the money you received through the program.

To be considered for the work-study program, you need to complete the FAFSA or WAFSA and be authorized to work in the United States. Just be sure you can balance school and work-study because the program calls for students to spend an average of 19 hours on the job per week.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

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