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College Financial Aid Resources

College Financial Aid Information & Resources

What is College Financial Aid?

Financial aid is money to help pay for college.  It can include grants, scholarships, work study, and loans to help cover college expenses.

  • Grants: Gift aid usually based on financial need and in most cases do not need to be repaid.
  • Scholarships: Money awarded to students based on academic or other achievements to help pay for education expenses. 
  • Loans: Money that can be borrowed for educational expenses and is repaid over time (with interest added in most cases)
  • Work Study:  A financial aid program (federal or state) that allows a student to work on-campus or with approved off campus employers to earn money to pay for college expenses.

How do I apply for Financial Aid?

Completing the FAFSA or WASFA is the first step in accessing college financial aid.  The FAFSA and WASFA open every year on October 1st.  Students only complete one application – either the FAFSA or the WASFA.

  • The FAFSA is the application that citizens and eligible non-citizens (e.g. permanent resident/green card, conditional permanent resident, refugee) complete to access financial aid.  It is free and can be filed by visiting studentaid.gov
  • The WASFA is the application undocumented non-citizens complete to access financial aid.  It is free and can be filed by visiting WASFA application
  • Not sure which application to complete? WASFA questionnaire
  • Some colleges and universities will require additional financial aid forms to access aid.  One of the most common forms is the CSS Profile

How can I get help with completing financial aid forms?

Why complete the FAFSA or WASFA? I don’t think I will qualify for aid.

Completing the FAFSA or WASFA should be the first step in accessing financial aid for EVERY student.

  • Most students qualify.
  • The FAFSA takes the average student around 30 minutes to fill out and is free.
  • The FAFSA isn’t just for people who want or need federal student loans. It’s also used to determine aid you won’t have to pay back, like scholarships, grants, and work-study.
  • Individual colleges will use your FAFSA or WASFA to determine your financial aid.  
  • Some private scholarships require a FAFSA as part of their application process.

What about private scholarships? How do I find them?

Many nonprofit and private organizations offer scholarships to help students pay for college. Different scholarships have different application requirements and due dates, but most common deadlines are in winter/spring of Senior year.  Students have the best chances to earn local scholarships because of the smaller applicant pool, though many opportunities are available for local, regional and national awards. 

What is Seattle Promise? How could it help me pay for college?

Seattle Promise provides 2 years (or up to 90) credits of free tuition at the three Seattle Colleges (North Seattle, Seattle Central, South Seattle) to graduates of a Seattle Public High. To be eligible, students must:

  • Complete the Seattle Promise application by February 1
  • Submit College Admissions Application to North Seattle College, Seattle Central College, or South Seattle College by February 1
  • Complete the FAFSA or WASFA by April 30
  • View more information at Seattle Promise

Additional Financial Aid Resources