When you think of the state of Washington, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the nearly 150 days of rain Seattle sees on average every year (1)? Is it the Space Needle? Do you think of the town of Forks from the Twilight series? Do you think of Mt. Rainier or Mount St. Helens?

Regardless of what you think of, it’s important to know the Evergreen State is one of the most generous states when it comes to college financial aid for its in-state students. The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) is in charge of providing and dispersing funding accordingly to those students who have applied (2).

WSAC offers a variety of different programs to help students afford a higher education. Some of these helpful programs include the Washington College Grant, the College Bound Scholarship and the American Indian Endowed Scholarship (3).

Washington College Grant

The Washington College Grant (WCG) is a need-based financial aid program which is considered to be one of the most generous college financial aid programs in the country (4). This program is designed to help recent high school graduates and working-age adults from low- and middle-income families afford to receive a higher education or technical career training.

To be eligible for the WCG, you must:

  • Be a Washington resident
    • This includes undocumented students; there is no age limit for students to apply.
  • Meet all specific program requirements according to WSAC
  • Be approved to attend an eligible college or technical career training program
    • Can attend as a part-time or full-time student.
  • Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a Washington State Financial Aid (WASFA) application
    • WASFA is for those students who don’t file FAFSA due to their immigration status and/or their undocumented status (5).

There is no separate application needed for the WCG. If you submit your FAFSA or WASFA and are deemed eligible for the grant, you’ll be automatically enrolled into the program.

If you’re curious as to how much funding you could receive from the WCG before you know at the beginning of the semester, you can always estimate your potential reward with the Washington Financial Aid Calculator (6).

The WCG award varies based upon your household income, family size and school and/or program attendance costs. The maximum possible award you could receive would be the full tuition amount of any eligible in-state public college, university, community or technical college.

At a private, nonprofit college or technical career program, the grant would provide funds for a comparable tuition amount.

For the 2022-2023 academic year, the maximum amount you could receive from the WCG at a public college was at the University of Washington for $11,705 (7). The lowest maximum amount of funding you could receive at a public college was at Eastern Washington University for $7,095.

For independent or private, four-year, nonprofit institutions, the maximum amount of funding you could receive was $9,739.

College Bound Scholarship

The College Bound Scholarship (CBS) is a need-based financial aid program where low-income students in middle school who dream of receiving a higher education can take a pledge and commit to attending college later in their academic career (8). When they do this, they can then use the CBS funding in the future to help them pay for their higher education.

When a middle school student takes the CBS pledge, they’re committing to:

  • Graduating from a Washington high school (or approved homeschool program)
    • A student does not need to graduate with their original high school class; they can graduate early or late, but they do need to graduate.
    • GEDs aren’t eligible for the program unless the student has gone through foster care between the time of being in seventh grade until 21 years old.
  • Graduating with a 2.00 GPA or higher
  • Having no felony convictions
  • Submitting FAFSA or WASFA during their senior year of high school for the following academic year so they can be determined as eligible based on their family’s income
  • Fulfilling all the CBS requirements
  • Attending an eligible postsecondary institution
  • Beginning college classes within one year of high school graduation (9)

Students who participate in the free-and-reduced-price-lunch program in the seventh, eighth and now ninth grades are automatically enrolled into taking the CBS pledge. Otherwise, a specific application will need to be completed while the student is in middle school.

When the student is approved, they’ll receive a certificate in the mail to verify their enrollment into the program.

For the 2022-2023 academic year, the maximum amount of funding you could’ve received for attending a public, four-year postsecondary institution was $12,205 from the University of Washington. The lowest maximum amount of funding you could’ve received was $7,595 from Eastern Washington University.

The maximum amount of funding you could’ve received for attending a private, four-year postsecondary institution was $11,995.

American Indian Endowed Scholarship

The American Indian Endowed Scholarship (AIES) is an extremely competitive, merit-based and need-based financial aid program which helps outstanding, yet financially needy, Native American students with close social and cultural ties to the Washington Native American community further their education (10).

The scholarship is primarily for upper-division and graduate students, though all eligible students’ applications will be considered.

To be eligible for the AIES, you must:

  • Be a Washington resident
  • Submit FAFSA and demonstrate a financial need for funding
  • Enroll as a full-time, undergraduate or graduate student
  • Enroll at a participating postsecondary institution by the fall term of the application year
  • Use your education to benefit the Washington Native American community
  • Not be pursuing a degree in theology

Every year, approximately 15 students are selected for the scholarship and the award amount varies between $500 to $2,000 per scholarship.

Although you must apply for the scholarship annually, you can receive up to five (5) academic years’ worth of funding. It should be noted no additional applications are currently being accepted for the 2022-2023 academic year. In December 2022, you can begin applying for funding for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Washington Colleges and Universities

There are seven types of postsecondary institutions students can attend in Washington. The seven types are:

  • Public, four-year colleges and universities
  • Independent/private, four-year, nonprofit colleges and universities
  • Independent/private, four-year, for-profit colleges and universities
  • Community and technical colleges
  • Tribal colleges
  • Private, two-year, nonprofit career colleges
  • Private, two-year, for-profit career colleges

Some of the more popular four-year colleges and universities in the Evergreen State include:

  • Bastyr University in Kenmore (private school)
  • Central Washington University in Ellensburg (public school)
  • Eastern Washington University in Cheney (public school)
  • Gonzaga University in Spokane (private school)
  • Heritage University in Toppenish (private school)
  • Seattle University in Seattle (private school)
  • The Evergreen State College in Olympia (public school)
  • University of Puget Sound in Tacoma (private school)
  • University of Washington in Seattle (public school)
  • Washington State University in Pullman (main campus) (public school)
  • Western Washington University in Bellingham (public school)
  • Whitman College in Walla Walla (private school)
  • Whitworth University in Spokane (private school)

While Washington produces the most apples, pears, red raspberries and sweet cherries than any other state in the nation, it should be known for producing as much college financial aid as possible to help its students afford to attend in-state colleges.

Additional Resources

(1)Amli Residential

(2) Washington Student Achievement Council

(3) WSAC Financial Aid Program List

(4) Washington College Grant

(5)WASFA Information

(6)WSAC Financial Aid Calculator

(7)WCG Award Amounts

(8) College Bound Scholarship

(9)College Bound Scholarship FAQs

(10)American Indian Endowed Scholarship

(11)Washington Colleges and Universities