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Types of Money

Virtually all colleges and universities will use your FAFSA/WASFA information to award federal, state, and college-funded student aid. This page describes the types of money that can help you pay for college.

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Grants are the best type of financial aid because they don't have to be paid back as long as you meet the grant's terms. To apply for government grants, you must first complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you don't qualify for federal financial aid, please submit the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) instead. You only need to complete the FAFSA or the WASFA, not both.

Federal Pell Grant

Federal Pell Grants are awarded based on financial need, not grades or class rank.

Washington College Grant

The Washington College Grant (formerly known as the State Need Grant) is Washington state's financial aid program. It is awarded based on financial need, not grades or class rank.

The Washington College Grant is available to individuals and a wide range of family sizes and incomes. Thanks for a law passed in 2019, more students than ever before qualify for state financial aid. For the 2024-24 school year, people making $38,000 or less per year or families of four making $73,000 or less per year will have the full cost of tuition covered by financial aid – guaranteed. People making up to $58,500 per year and families of four making up to $112,500 per year will get some level of financial support.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant helps students who have exceptional financial needs. Priority is given to Federal Pell Grant recipients.

Student loans have to be paid back. You can get a loan from the federal government or from private lenders like banks and credit unions. Consider federal loans first. Generally speaking, the federal loan program provides better terms and more flexibility for repayment.

Your college determines the amount you can borrow.

Subsidized Stafford Loan (Direct Subsidized Loans)

The Subsidized Stafford Loan is a need-based loan. With this loan, the federal government makes interest payments on your loan at certain times, such as while you are in school or if you are in deferment. (A deferment allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your federal student loans.)

Unsubsidized Stafford Loan (Direct Unsubsidized Loans)

The Unsubsidized Stafford Loan is not need-based. With an unsubsidized Stafford loan, you are responsible for interest payments, even while you are in college. You can either make interest payments while you're in college or postpone them. If you postpone interest payments, interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).

Parent Plus Loans

Parent Plus loans are not need-based and they require interest payments. These are for parents of a dependent student to help with the cost of a student's education.

Scholarships are different from financial aid. There is a separate application process and the eligibility and criteria for scholarships varies widely. Scholarships may be awarded based on academic achievement, leadership potential, artistic talents, athletic ability, career plans, field of study or special hobbies or interests. is a free clearinghouse for Washington students seeking college scholarships. You can search and apply for scholarship opportunities that match your academic interests, college or other criteria.

Also check with your college's Foundation to see what scholarships it offers.

Work Study is a need-based financial aid program that lets you work part time while you're in college to earn part of your aid instead of borrowing money. Your work study job can be on campus or off campus. Contact the financial aid office at your college to learn more.

Get Started

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) is the first step in applying for federal and state financial aid programs.

Undocumented Students/DREAMers

We got you! Just complete the confidential WASFA and find out if you're eligible for financial aid programs offered by Washington state.


If you have questions about financial aid, call the financial aid office at the college of your choice.

You can also contact Student Financial Assistance at the Washington Student Achievement Council at or 888-535-0747.

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Last Modified: 6/7/23, 8:41 AM

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