• Money for College


     Money for College!

    There are four types of college funding -  Grants, Scholarships, State Work Study and Student Loans


    Grants explained:

    As forms of “gift aid,” grants provide free money for college that you will not have to repay. Grants generally come from three main sources: the federal government, state government, and institutions (your college or university). While some grants require students to meet specific criteria in order to receive them, most grants offered by the state or federal government are awarded based solely on financial need. 

    Washington State Grants

    Washington State Need Grant: The State Need Grant (SNG) program helps the state’s lowest-income undergraduate students pursue degrees, hone skills, or retrain for new careers. Students can use the grants at eligible institutions in Washington.

    Passport for Foster Youth: The Passport to College Promise Scholarship program helps students from foster care prepare for and succeed in college.

    Opportunity Grant: The Opportunity Grant helps low-income adults train for high-wage, high-demand careers.

    Federal Grants

    The federal government provides grant funds for students attending colleges, career schools, and universities. For more information on several major federal grant programs, visit the U.S. Department of Education's Student Aid site.

    Scholarships explained:

    Scholarships can be an important part of how you pay for college.   The time you invest in searching and applying for scholarships could make the difference in the type of college you attend and the amount of loans you have to borrow.  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. In addition, for many scholarships, citizenship status is not an automatic disqualifier for eligibility, so all students are encouraged to search!

    Online Services for Students

    TheWashBoard.org  is a free, student-centered, online clearinghouse for Washington students seeking college scholarships. This user-friendly site allows students to search and apply for scholarship opportunities that are specific to their academic interests, college, university, or other criteria. Students can easily see what criteria are required and apply for only those scholarships that are a good fit.  Scholarships are available year-round, so students should keep their profile up to date and log-in periodically to see if there are new matches.

    Financial aid and scholarship wizard - US Department of Education financial aid and scholarship wizard.

    State Work Study explained:

    The State Work Study (SWS) program helps low- and middle-income undergraduate and graduate students earn money to pay part of their college costs while gaining valuable work experience in jobs related to their interests and goals. This allows students to develop career skills and job connections while avoiding added loan debt. 


    To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:

    • File for financial aid by completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid).

    Note: U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens should complete the FAFSA. Students who are ineligible for federal financial aid but who have DACA (Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals) status should file the WASFA. For more information on which form to file, see our WASFA questionnaire.

    Student Loans explained:

    Student loans are real loans—just as real as car loans or mortgages. You have to pay back your student loans. But, the truth is, many students need to borrow money to pay for their education. The most important thing you can do is understand how loans work before you sign the loan paper work, otherwise you may be in for an unpleasant surprise down the road.

    When you fill out your FAFSA and apply for financial aid at your college or career school, the school’s financial aid office may offer you loans as a part of your financial aid package.

    Generally, there are two types of student loans:

    Federal student loans: These loans are funded by the federal government.

    Private student loans: These loans are nonfederal loans, made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, state agency, or a school.

     If you need to borrow money to pay for college or career school, a federal student loan is probably your best option.

    The three types of federal student loans are:

    • Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans;
    • Direct PLUS Loans (for graduate and professional students or parents)
    • Federal Perkins Loans.

    What are the differences between federal and private student loans?

    Federal student loans include many benefits like fixed interest rates and income-based repayment plans not typically offered with private loans. In contrast, private loans are generally more expensive than federal student loans.

    The US Department of Education has a website that explains all of the ins and outs of financial aid. Visit www.studentaid.ed.gov for comprehensive, reliable information on all of your loan and other financial aid options.

    Loan Repayment

    No matter which type of loan you receive, remember that after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, your loans must be repaid. However, you have a period of time before you have to begin repayment. This is called a “grace period” and it ranges from six to nine months, depending on the type of loan.

    When you graduate or leave school, you’ll receive information about repayment, and your lender will notify you of the date loan repayment begins. It is extremely important that you make your full loan payment on time either monthly (which is usually when you’ll pay) or according to your repayment schedule. 

    Did you know there are some programs that will help with loan repayment?

    AmeriCorps is a national network of programs that engages more than 70,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet critical needs in communities throughout the nation. AmeriCorps offers several ways to get involved, from part-time local service programs to full-time residential programs. Members receive guidance and training so they can make a contribution that suits their talents, interests, and availability. Serve for 12 months and receive up to $7,400 in stipends plus $4,725 to be used towards your loan or future education costs.

    The PeaceCorps is a federal agency that provides volunteers to foreign countries.  Peace Corps Volunteers work in the following areas: education, youth outreach, and community development; business development; agriculture and environment; health and HIV/AIDS; and information technology. Within these areas, the specific duties and responsibilities of each volunteer can vary widely. Volunteers may apply for deferment of and partial cancellation of certain types of student loans. 

    There are other state and federal programs that help you repay your student loans after college if you agree to meet certain conditions, like teaching in a school district without enough qualified teachers, or becoming a nurse or doctor in an area without adequate medical services. Information on many of these programs can be found at http://fedmoney.org/.

    Adapted from "ReadySetGrad.org"