According to a national student loan debt report from The Institute for College Access Success, more than half of all Washington state college students graduate from school with student loan debt.
Student loans can have a crippling effect on your life after school.
You can end up struggling to afford your payments and you might even have to put off major life goals, such as buying a home, until you can pay down your debt.
Grants can be a great way to help pay for school.
Find out what Washington grants exist and how you can apply.
Washington grants for state residents
Grants are one of the best ways to pay for college.
Unlike other forms of financial aid, such as student loans, grants are “free money.” In most cases, you 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 grants, there’s one state-offered grant available:
State Need Grant
The State Need Grant (SNG) provides money to students who have financial need and are pursuing a postsecondary education.
For the 2015-2016 academic year, nearly 69,000 students received this grant to offset education costs.
To qualify, your household income must be less than 70 percent of Washington state’s median family income.
As of the 2017-2018 school year, that means a family of four could not earn more than $60,500 and qualify for the grant.
Grant recipients can receive up to $9,553 per year, depending on their household income and choice of school.
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.
You can see the complete list of participating schools on the Washington Student Achievement Council website.
Washington doesn’t require a special application for the SNG.
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 SNG.
You can apply for the grant by completing the Washington Application for State Financial Aid.
Other state-offered financial aid
Washington only offers one grant, but it has other forms of financial aid available, including scholarships and work-study programs.
Washington state offers 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 families to complete and submit the application materials by June 30 of the student’s 8th-grade year.
Then, students must meet the financial aid eligibility requirements and complete the FAFSA in the student’s 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.
Last year, approximately 340 students received the award.
The money can be used not only to cover tuition and fees, but also housing, transportation, and some personal expenses.
To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:
After your 16th birthday, you must have spent at least one year in foster care in Washington state.
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 a certificate, associate’s 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 up to $2,000 through the American Indian Endowed Scholarship.
To qualify, 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.
The Washington work-study program is for low- and middle-income students.
Students who qualify for the program get an approved on- or off-campus job with a participating employer to help pay for school.
To participate in the work-study program, you must be a Washington resident.
You may not be in default for any state or federal student loan 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 and be authorized to work in the United States.
Finding free money
Although there are a limited number of Washington grants available, it’s possible to find other sources of aid in the form of outside grants and scholarships. For help finding opportunities, check out the 19 best places to find free money for college.
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