What is Financial Aid?

​​For most college students, financial aid makes their higher education possible. In fact, more than eight in 10 undergraduate students attending a four-year universities receive some form of financial aid, and the number is similar for students at two-year colleges.
 
There are several different kinds of financial aid. Take the time to research your options and determine which work best for you, your family and your college situation.
 
 
Here are some type of aid to consider:
 
Federal Pell Grant
 
Determined by rules set by Congress, the Federal Pell Grant maximum award for 2019—2020 award year is $6,195. The Pell Grant is an entitlement program, which means that all students who are eligible will receive a grant award. The maximum EFC to be Pell-eligible is $5,140 for the 2019-20 award year. The amount of the grant will be determined by the student need and cost of attendance at a particular school. Students who file a FAFSA are automatically considered for the Pell Grant; there is no additional application.
 
Federal Loans
 
Student loans, unlike grants, work-study and scholarships, must be repaid once you graduate or leave college. An important difference between loans is whether they are subsidized or unsubsidized, which refers to what happens to the interest that accumulates, or accrues, between the time you take out a loan and when you stop attending college. Students who file a FAFSA are automatically considered for federal loans.
 
Simply stated, the federal government pays the interest on a subsidized loan while the student is enrolled in college at least half time. An unsubsidized loan requires the student to pay the interest while in college or add it to the loan principal, which means at graduation, or when the student stops attending college, the student will owe more than originally borrowed. Subsidized loans are reserved for students with demonstrated financial need.

·    Federal Direct Loans are made available to students pursuing an undergraduate, graduate or professional degree. There are two types of Federal Direct Loans, subsidized and unsubsidized.

·    PLUS Loans are loans that parents can take out to help pay for the cost of their dependent children’s undergraduate education. The maximum amount of a PLUS Loan is determined by the student’s cost of attendance minus other aid received. The borrower pays all interest, which accrues immediately.

The U.S. Department of Education has summarized the types of loans available to college student in the
Federal Student Loan Programs Fact Sheet.
 
Federal and State Work-Study

These programs allow a student to obtain a job as part of the financial aid package. Work-study jobs will pay at least minimum wage and are funded with either federal or state money. Wages earned through the Work-Study program do not figure into student income for the following year’s financial aid analysis, but may be subject to income taxes. A question on the FAFSA asks if the student wants to be considered for work-study.
 
Scholarships

Scholarships are grants-in-aid money that do not need to be repaid. Scholarships are awarded by colleges for outstanding academic achievement or talent; through businesses and private organizations, local fraternal groups and clubs; and through other community organizations. Students are encouraged to apply for all scholarships for which they are eligible. Check the scholarship listing online often, including your high school’s scholarship website, and be sure to complete and submit your school’s scholarship application.

College Bound Scholarship

The College Bound Scholarship was established by the Legislature in 2007. The purpose of the program is to provide state-funded financial aid to low-income students who may not consider college a possibility because of the cost. The scholarship is for use at eligible institutions in Washington. 

Eligibility for the scholarship is a two-part process. First, students whose families are income-eligible may apply during grade 7 or 8. They must apply no later than June 30 of their eighth grade year and complete their application by August 31. Second, students must complete the scholarship pledge requirements and meet income-eligibility guidelines as determined by colleges using data from the student’s FAFSA or WASFA in their senior year of high school. A student's scholarship is pending until all requirements are met, and it is the institution that determines the amount of the award. 

The scholarship covers tuition (at comparable public colleges), some fees, and a small book allowance.
More information can be found here.
 
Washington College Grant
 
This program helps needy and disadvantaged Washington state residents pursue post-secondary education in one of Washington’s schools. Students must be at least half-time undergraduates majoring in an academic discipline other than theology. Grant awards vary. You will be considered for the Washington College Grant after completing the FAFSA or WASFA; there is no additional application to complete.
 
Other Forms of Financial Aid
 
One of the best sources of financial aid is the college you plan to attend. Do not be afraid to contact the financial aid officer to inquire about college costs and possible forms of aid. When you receive an aid package, keep in mind that the award was put together in an attempt to meet the financial need of as many applicants as possible.
 
The offers vary from school to school. You should not look to compare the aid package dollar for dollar because each college has a different pool of money to work with and different considerations. Use the information to make the best decision for you and your family.
 
Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)
 
The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program provides students in the western states the opportunity to enroll in many two-year and four-year college programs at a reduced tuition equal to 150% of the college’s resident tuition. Students interested in the WUE program should apply for admission directly to the institution to be considered for the WUE program.
 
Eligibility requirements for WUE vary across institutions, and not all public college and universities in the WUE region offer WUE scholarships. The following states are participants in the WUE program: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
 
Almost all undergraduate programs are available to a WUE student; however, some colleges may designate only certain fields of study.

[1] Grants and Loans to Students, National Center for Educational Statistics. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cuc.asp