Washington Student Loans

Guy studyingWashington has a wealth of educational opportunities. There are dozens of schools for students to choose from, all scattered throughout the state. Some schools are large, designed to serve a diverse student body. Others are small, providing students with an intimate learning experience. Still others fall somewhere in between, delivering education to those who need it.

Schools in Washington

By 2020, between 60% and 62% of residents of Washington will have a college degree, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Education. If those people choose to get an education in Washington, they have a number of different institutions that could help.These are just a few of the institutions in Washington, along with some key facts about where the schools are located and what sorts of students they serve.

  • Washington State University: With over 90 majors for undergraduates and more than 40 doctoral degree programs, Washington State University (WSU) is one of the largest institutions of higher education within the state of Washington.

The school has multiple campus locations, including one that’s exclusively online, but

Pullman, Washington, is an agricultural community. In fact, it’s known for the National Lentil Festival, held on an annual basis smack in the middle of downtown. This isn’t the sort of place in which students might bump into celebrities or spend all night hobnobbing with the rich and famous. It’s a quiet community that’s focused on growth, and it could be just right for serious study and quiet contemplation.

WSU is a good value, too. The total cost of attendance at WSU in 2012-2013 was $27,302, according to the Project on Student Debt, and the average debt of graduates in 2013 stood at close to $24,000.

  • The University of Washington: For students looking for a more urban college experience, the University of Washington (UW) could be a better fit. This 4-year university has three campus locations: one in Seattle, one in Tacoma, and one in Bothell.

Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington, and it’s home to two major sports teams and a great deal of industry. Seattle has been called one of the fittest cities in the country, according to the city’s website, and it has the highest per-capita attendance for music and dance. Students who choose UW in Seattle could spend a great deal of leisure time walking, biking, hitting the clubs, or downing coffee. There’s a lot to do here.

Tacoma is a bit smaller than Seattle, but it’s also a busy Washington town. Travel Tacoma suggests that the city hosts ample opportunities for camping, golfing, and boating, and there are casinos, playhouses, and gardens to explore. Students at UW have a lot of work to do, but they can find fun right outside the doors of the school.

Bothell, Washington, is one of the smallest cities in which a UW campus is located, but there are many attractions for students. Bothell is known, in particular, for its wine culture. There are 100 wineries and distilleries located either within or close to the Bothell city limits, according to Explore Bothell. Students could wine and dine parents when they visit, or simply enjoy living within the center of a major tourist destination.

All of these locations are very different, and not surprisingly, the total cost of UW attendance can vary, per the Project on Student Debt. All three campus locations had total cost of attendance prices in the $26,000 range in 2012-2013. Students who graduated from UW in 2013 had debts ranging from about $20,000 to about $23,000.

  • Evergreen State College: Students of liberal arts might enjoy attending Evergreen State College. The courses taught here can be rigorous, but they also take a decidedly progressive bent. Students are encouraged to ask, to question, to participate, and to grow. That could help these students to think critically and do amazing things within the workforce.

According to the school’s website, Evergreen State College can be a great value, because it has one of the lowest tuition costs in the state, and students graduate in record times from Evergreen. That claim is backed up with data from the Project on Student Debt, which suggests that the total cost of attendance at Evergreen in 2012-2013 was about $22,000, and the average debt of graduates in 2013 stood at less than $20,000.

The school can also be enticing simply because of its location. Olympia is the capital of Washington, and it’s the seat of legislative action. That means students interested in government might enjoy life at Evergreen. They can visit the capitol, meet their legislators, and get involved with lawmaking at a young age.

  • Whitman College: Students interested in the liberal arts, but who want a small-town college experience, might enjoy Whitman College. According to the school’s website, this institution is small and selective, so students have an opportunity to work one-on-one with their professors and peers on the issues they’re studying. They’re encouraged to question and query as they learn, so they’ll develop the skills that can transform them from young students into powerful adults.

Whitman College is located in Walla Walla, which is a very small town known for its world-class wine production. There isn’t a great deal of nightlife for students to engage in, which might explain why 70% of Whitman students participate in intramural sports activities, according to the school’s website. Arguably, these students are healthier than the average college student, because they’re not staying up late and engaging in activities like drinking or partying. They might even be home early enough to get some study time in.

Whitman College is a private institution that runs on a for-profit basis, and yet, students who choose this school don’t seem to face a huge financial penalty for doing so. The Project on Student Debt suggests that the 2012-2013 total cost of attendance was close to $55,000, but the average debt of graduates in 2013 was only $16,731. That seems to suggest that many Whitman students get scholarships of some sort.

  • Eastern Washington University: Those students who want a larger field of classes to choose from might enjoy Eastern Washington University (EWU). This institution has more than 100 fields of study for undergraduates and 35 programs just for graduate students, according to the school’s website. This kind of diversity could be excellent for students who just aren’t sure what they’d like to do with their careers. By choosing a school with many options, they’ll be able to switch majors as needed.

This school is located in Cheney, Washington. The city’s website suggests that a small-town feel characterizes Cheney, and with a population of fewer than 12,000 people, that’s an easy statement to back up. Students who choose EWU may enjoy the quiet life and the opportunities for study a small town provides. But they might also appreciate the fact that they’re just minutes away from Spokane, so they can get into a big city if they’d like to do so.

The Project on Student Debt suggests that 2012-2013 total cost of attendance at this school was about $21,000. Students who graduated in 2013 did so with an average debt a little larger than $25,000.

Help for Washington Students

While it’s true that Washington schools are set up to accept and enroll students from almost anywhere, including overseas, officials in Washington seem determined to help the residents of the state get help with expenses associated with college. That’s why there are so many different programs and packages for students who have gone to school within the state, and who have graduated with a Washington high school diploma.

One such program, the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, is made just for students who have graduated from a high school in Washington and who are planning to study:

Students who wish to tap into this help must be working toward a 4-year degree (not an associate’s degree), and they must be enrolling in a school in Washington. There are a lot of limits here, for sure, but the awards can be quite generous. For students who need help, this could be a good opportunity.

Another such program, the State Need Grant, is made for Washington students who live in households that bring in an income that’s less than 70% of the median income for the state of Washington. The grant amounts can vary from Washington school to Washington school, but they can be quite large. For example, students hoping to attend the University of Washington in 2015 could have received a maximum grant of $10,868. That amount of money could have made a student’s dream of college a reality, and it’s available through this program.

One more program, the WFAA Ethnic Awareness Scholarship, is designed for students of color attending a participating Washington school. The scholarship amounts are variable, and they’re quite small. The maximum offer is $1,500. Every little bit of money can help a student to pay for an education, and every scholarship doesn’t come with a promise of repayment. Students who qualify could really benefit from this program.

General Tips

All Washington students, whether they are residents or not, should look for scholarships and grants for school. These programs provide students with money for school that they’re not required to pay back. That gift money could be vital for students hoping to pay for school without taking out student loans, and there are a number of different programs that provide this assistance.Any Washington student should be prepared for deep competition for these loans and grants. The state is undergoing a transformation, according to the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the cost of attending school is shifting from state coffers to family bank accounts. In the 1960s and 1970s, the state paid about 90% of educational costs, the Board says, but now, the state pays only 35% of those costs. Students pick up the rest, and that means many Washington students are hungry for financial assistance. They need it to pay bills, and they might pull together slick applications to get it. Any student hoping for a grant or scholarship should be prepared for the battle to get noticed.How can they do that? By paying attention to the fundamentals. Students should:

  • Get consistently good grades, both in high school and in college
  • Score high on standardized tests, even if that means taking prep courses first
  • Participate in a number of extracurricular activities throughout high school and college
  • Nurture relationships with teachers and mentors, so students will have a deep pool of people ready to write letters of recommendation

In addition, Washington students should ensure that they’ve filled out their federal financial aid forms on time and in the right way. Almost every single grant and scholarship program out there relies on student financial information that comes from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who don’t fill out these forms properly can experience delays, and that could make getting a grant harder. Students who submit errors could be disqualified on a technicality, even though they really are eligible for financial assistance.

Most Washington schools have financial aid offices staffed with experts, and students can make appointments to speak with those experts about their application concerns. They might tap into worksheets that make filling out a FAFSA easier, or they might ask questions about what sorts of income should be reported and what should be excluded. Professionals are always happy to help students in need. All they must do is make an appointment. Those who do might find that they can get the help they need.

Loan Options

In addition to Washington-based scholarships and grants, students can use federal loans to pay for school. A federal loan application begins with a FAFSA, and when students fill out that form, they’ll soon be provided with an offer letter that details what federal scholarships and grants they can get, along with what loans they qualify for.

These federal loans come with a suite of features, including low interest rates and beneficial repayment programs, and there’s no credit check involved. For students who can’t pay for school with savings, scholarships, or grants, federal loans could be a great way to get a Washington education going.

Federal loans do come with some limits, however, and some Washington students might feel those limits acutely. For example, many federal loan programs limit how much a student can borrow in a year, while others limit how much a student can borrow during a lifetime. After years of time in the Washington education system, some students might find it hard to get the loans they need. Those limits stand in the way.

Private loans can fill the gap. These products come from banks and other commercial lenders, and they’re meant to help students pay for school when federal sources of money run out. Students could use these loans to pay for their Washington tuition, or they could use the loans to help cover costs of living that they just can’t handle without help. Loans like this often come with credit checks, and they simply must be paid back, of course, but they can be incredibly important to students who just can’t make ends meet in any other way.