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Washington State University
Student Financial Services Financial Aid Options
Understanding your Financial Aid Options

Three types of financial aid

Aid you pay back

Nearly every student who applies is eligible to receive federal student loans.

If student loans and other aid aren’t sufficient, Parent PLUS Loans and private education loans are also available. Specific loan programs are also available to graduate and professional students.

Aid you don’t pay back

Grants are awarded based on financial need.

Scholarships are awarded based on a wide variety of criteria. Good grades will always help, but you can also receive scholarships based on financial need, academic interests, talents, community service, leadership, and career goals.

Employment opportunities

Every dollar you earn is a dollar you won’t have to borrow and pay back later.

A wide variety of on-campus jobs are available at WSU. And the Federal Work-Study program gives you a way to earn money while directly reducing the amount of student loans you have to take out.

How to get financial aid

Nearly everyone is eligible to receive some form of financial aid. Take these steps to get started:

  1. Apply for admission to WSU
  2. Complete the FAFSA. You must do this every year to keep receiving aid.
  3. Estimate your costs to attend WSU.
  4. Find and apply for scholarships. You should do this every year to make sure you’re considered for all applicable awards.

WSU Priority Dates and Deadlines

Due to the most recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on further delays for institutions to begin receiving applicant data, WSU has extended our 2024-2025 priority dates and deadlines. Our goal is to provide flexibility to students and families with the assurance that we stand ready to assist with navigating unforeseen delays. Below are the updated priority dates and deadlines:

  • December: FAFSA Opens
  • Early January: WASFA Opens
  • May 1st: WSU General Scholarship Deadline *
  • May 1st: FAFSA/WASFA priority date for new & current WSU students
  • July 31st: Additional Documentation priority date for new & current WSU students
* 2024-2025 General Scholarship Application closes 11:59pm PT.  

After you complete the FAFSA and apply for admission, WSU will send a letter (usually in December or January) outlining your next steps and detailing how much financial aid you’re eligible to receive.

*Please be aware … Admissions will not accept recalculations for the following awards after March 31st: University Achievement Award, Distinguished University Achievement Award, Cougar Award and Distinguished Cougar Award (WUE)

Choose the aid that’s best for you

You’ll probably be offered more than one type of aid. It’s up to you to decide which awards to accept; there’s no penalty for declining aid.

As a general rule, you should always accept grants and scholarships. Aid that you don’t have to pay back is nearly always preferable, although it usually comes with restrictions on how it can be used (be sure to read the terms and conditions).

If possible, minimize the amount of loans you take out. Every dollar you borrow now is a dollar you won’t have later when you’re done with school.

Eligibility requirements

In order to receive state, university, or federal student aid funds, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Graduate from high school (or earn a high-school equivalent certification)
  • Be accepted for enrollment in college courses working toward an associate, bachelor, or graduate degree.
  • Be a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • Have a valid Social Security number.
  • Certify that you intend to use financial aid for educational purposes, that you are not in default on a federal student loan, and that you do not owe money on a federal grant.
  • Register with the Selective Services (if required).

Undocumented students are not eligible for federal student aid, but state funding is available for qualifying students.

Please note that certain programs like the Administrator Credential program are ineligible for financial aid due to the inherent structure of the program. Private loans are available for certificate programs.

The Federal Student Aid program

Most of the aid you receive will probably be awarded through the Federal Student Aid program. Visit the following websites to learn more about how these programs can work for you.


Federal Student Aid (FSA) website—An introduction to federal student aid.

Student Loans—A guide to federal student loans: entrance counseling, promissory notes, repayment, and parent loans.