Paying for College

How to pay for College

Saving for College

Saving for college isn’t easy, but don’t be discouraged. The more you save, the less you will need to borrow for college. And the earlier you begin, the less you will need to set aside each month. Click here to learn more.

Tuition and Other College Costs: College costs vary and will depend on the type of school you attend and the number of courses you take. College costs generally include tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, and transportation.

Click here to see tuition costs for Washington State Public Institutions of Higher Learning.

Remember – there are lots of options to help pay for college! 

Are you thinking about going to college but need financial aid to help fund your education? Click here to check out this great overview video and learn how the office of Federal Student Aid provides more than $150 billion in grants, loans and work-study funds. Visit StudentAid.gov to learn more.


Money is available to help you go to college if you and your family cannot afford to pay the full cost.  In Washington, state financial aid programs are known collectively as Ready…Set…Grad..

You don’t have to be from a low-income family to qualify for some programs. Financial aid includes grants, loans, work study, and scholarships – and can be either need-based or merit-based.

Need-based aid is awarded to students who cannot pay for college without assistance and includes grants, loans, and work-study programs.  Merit-based aid, generally scholarships, is awarded to students based on academic, athletic, or other achievements or criteria.  Most students receive a combination of aid in what is called a financial aid package that is prepared by the financial aid office at your college, university, or career school.

Click here to learn more about all the financial aid opportunities available and how to qualify and apply for it.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSASM) form is the first step toward getting federal aid for college, career school, or graduate school.

Check out this video to learn how the FAFSA gives you access to grants, loans and work-study jobs that can help fund your education. Click here to learn more about the FAFSA.

To apply for federal student aid, you need to complete the FAFSASM or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and easier than ever, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school.

In addition, many states and colleges use your FAFSA data to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid.


College Bound Scholarships:

Middle School Students & Families: If you are an eligible 7th or 8th grade student, now is the time to apply for the College Bound Scholarship. Click here for more details.

The College Bound Scholarship program encourages low-income, middle school students to choose a path that will lead to educational success after high school.

The program promises tuition (at public institution rates) and a small book allowance for income-eligible students who sign up in the 7th or 8th grade, work hard in school, stay out of legal trouble, and successfully apply to a higher education institution when they graduate.

Students may sign up in the 7th or 8th grade, and need only apply once. The deadline for all applicants is by June 30 at the end of their 8th grade year.

There are many other scholarships available to help pay for college. Eligibility and criteria for scholarships varies widely – they may be awarded on the basis of academic achievement, leadership potential, artistic talents, athletic ability, career plans, field of study, or special hobbies or interests.

Where to begin your search:

  • Talk to the college/career specialist at your high school to get information about scholarships, aptitude testing, financial aid forms, and more.
  • Contact local organizations such as community organizations, foundations, corporations, and clubs to see if they offer scholarships to students. Also, check with department stores, grocers, credit unions and banks – many offer scholarships annually.
  • Ask employers and labor unions if they offer scholarships to employees/members or their children. Also, check with professional organizations related to your career interests, such as the American Bar Association or the American Medical Association.

Click here to search for scholarships.


Click here to learn more.

Federal Student Aid

Watch the video below and learn how the office of Federal Student Aid provides more than $150 billion in grants, loans and work-study funds. Visit StudentAid.gov to learn more.