Types of Aid

The most common types of financial aid are:

  • grants
  • scholarships
  • work-study programs
  • loans


Grants are money you never have to repay. They are usually based on financial need, and are available from the federal government, state government, schools, and private organizations.


Scholarships are usually based on merit such as good grades, high test scores, special talents (such as athletic or artistic), academic major, heritage, or community service.

Scholarships are offered by many organizations, including federal and state governments, and private sources, such as:

  • Employers
  • Individuals
  • Companies
  • High schools and colleges
  • Religious groups
  • Professional associations

You can find out the availability of these scholarships by contacting someone from the organization or by directly contacting its headquarters.

In addition, some organizations, particularly foundations, offer scholarships to minorities, women, and students with disabilities. To learn more, go to a public library and ask a librarian to help you look for directories that list such scholarships. College admissions offices and high school guidance counselors should also be able to provide more information.

Work Study Programs

Work study programs are student employment opportunities where you earn money in a part-time job on or off campus to help pay for your education. Work-study jobs can be found on or off campus through the school’s Financial Aid Office.

See State Work Study Program and Federal Work Study


Loans are money you borrow that must be repaid. In most cases you do not start repaying until you leave college.

Loans are an important option, but students should borrow sparingly and only as much as needed. And be sure to understand all parts of the loan agreement and your obligations.

  • The Federal Perkins Loan is a low interest rate loan that aids students with a large financial need. As long as the student is enrolled in school, the federal government pays the interest on this loan. Financial aid officers at each college determine which students receive these loans and how much they receive.
  • Subsidized Stafford Loan is a need-based, low-interest loan in which the government pays the interest while the student is in school and during deferment.
  • Unsubsidized Stafford Loan is a non-need based, low-interest loan in which the student is responsible for paying interest.
  • Private Student Loans These are offered through organizations and banks. Rates, repayment plans, and borrowing limits vary for each organization or bank.

Responsible Borrowing

Are you thinking about taking out a federal student loan to help pay for college or career school? Check out this video to learn about your responsibilities as a borrower and what you should consider when taking out loans for college.

Federal Sources of Financial Aid

Washington State Financial Aid for Youth and Alumni of Care

Washington State offers many financial aid opportunities to help students with college.  Remember, before you can receive federal and state financial aid you need to complete the FAFSA each year on or shortly after October 1.  Programs available for Washington State youth include:

  • Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program – The ETV Program is a national program for youth who qualify and are likely to age out of care.  The maximum award is $5,000 per academic year.
  • Governors’ Scholarship – The scholarship program helps young men and women from foster care continue their education and earn a college degree.  Scholarship award amounts range from $2,000 to $4,000.
  • Washington College Grant – Recent high school graduates and working-age adults from many low- and middle-income families can qualify to receive money for college or career training. WCG is available to eligible Washington residents, including undocumented students. There are no age limits. Recipients must meet program requirements and attend an approved college or program, part-time or full-time.
  • State Work Study – The State Work Study program helps students from low- and middle-income families earn money for college while gaining experience whenever possible in jobs related to their career goals.
  • Passport to Careers – The Passport to Careers program helps former foster youth and unaccompanied homeless youth prepare for and succeed in college, apprenticeships, or pre-apprenticeship programs. The maximum award per academic year is $4,500.
  • College Bound Scholarship[AV(1]  – The scholarship program is an early commitment of state financial aid to eligible students who sign up in middle school and fulfill the pledge. Youth in care are automatically enrolled in this program.
  • Casey Family Scholarships – Casey Family Programs provides funding for students enrolled in community colleges, public and private universities, and vocational and technical career programs in all 50 states.
  • Extended Foster Care Program – The program provides an opportunity for youth at age 18 to voluntarily agree to continue receiving foster care services up to age 21 while pursuing a:
    • High School Diploma or GED
    • College, Vocational or Technical Degree
    • Program or Activity Designed to Promote Employment or Remove Barriers to Employment
  • Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) – The application for undocumented individuals and select non-citizens who are not eligible to file the FAFSA. This application only applies to Washington State programs.