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Washington State University
Your Financial Aid Offer

Understanding Your Financial Aid Offer

A Financial Aid Offer Letter is a notification you receive, informing you how much financial aid you may receive for school. In order to qualify for financial aid, you must first submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA).

After you submit your FAFSA/WASFA and, if approved, your financial aid is calculated based on your Cost of Attendance (see COA below) and Expected Family Income (see EFC below). Based on that calculation, financial need for the academic year will be assessed, and where you will be given a financial aid offer. Students receiving financial aid offers will be emailed a communication to their WSU email address, forwarding them to their financial aid account in myWSU. Financial aid offers may provide various types of financial assistance:

You will be notified by Student Financial Services when you are able to take actions on your loans.

Have you or a family member experienced unforeseen financial hardship?

If so, please visit our Special Circumstances page for possible financial aid options.

Timeline for Awarding

Timeline of financial aid offers

For 2024-2025 awarding year, please see our FAFSA/WASFA Changes page.

For the 2023-2024 awarding year, financial aid offers will reflect current year tuition and fees in the Cost of Attendance. Federal and state funds offered will also include current year values. WSU is still awaiting final decisions on tuition and mandatory fees along with final confirmation from state and federal aid providers on awarding levels for 2023-2024. Please check your WSU email and visit this page regularly, as we will be notifying students as soon as possible.

For the current 2023-2024 awarding year, as soon as your financial aid application file is complete, you will receive a notice of your financial aid offer via email communication.

Next Steps


Student loans and Parent PLUS loans may be available in your financial aid award.**For the 24-25 academic year – accepting/declining of offered loans will open mid-summer! Our office will send an email when you can take action. Visit our Accepting Loans page for more information and details about the process.**

Helpful Videos

We maintain a collection of helpful videos to help students and parents understand various aspects of financial aid.

Financial Aid Quick Guide

The Financial Aid Quick Guide provides a brief overview of financial aid and answers common questions regarding financial aid.

Types of Aid


State financial aid comes from the State of Washington. Only resident students are eligible for state funding.


Federal financial aid is automatically awarded to students who have sufficient financial need and have completed the FAFSA.


Institutional grants (Washington residents) and waivers are awarded by WSU, using university funds. Most grants and tuition waivers awarded to WSU students are based on financial need.To be considered for these awards, students need to complete the FAFSA or (for undocumented students) the WASFA. Award amounts are determined by the EFC (expected family contribution) calculated from the FAFSA and WASFA.


Students can receive funding from outside grants and scholarships. We maintain a scholarship search engine to help students search for outside scholarships which they may be eligible for and can apply to. Students can receive external scholarships and awards year-round. There is also the WSU General Scholarship Application which one can apply to in order to be considered for multiple scholarships in a single application.

Cost of Attendance

Cost of attendance is composed of direct and indirect costs. Direct costs are directly billed to the student, and are made up of:

  • Tuition
  • Mandatory fees
  • Course fees

Indirect costs are costs that are based off of estimates and are not directly billed to the students. Instead they may vary off of individual circumstances and decisions. Indirect costs include:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • School supplies
  • Living expenses

Per cost of attendance regulations, housing, food, transportation and miscellaneous components are calculated based on actual weeks of enrollment within the term and not necessarily based on credits taken.

Cost of attendance varies depending on what campus and program the student is enrolled in. Cost of attendance by year, campus, and program can be found on our tuition and expenses page.


Renewal Requirements

Some scholarships and grants are eligible to be renewed for following aid years. A list of scholarships and their terms and conditions with their renewal requirements for the 2023-2024 aid year can help you understand the renewal requirements for your award.

Glossary of Financial Aid Terms

Terms and concepts within the Financial Aid Process

**Items in BOLD have multiple items listed**

Academic Year

Washington State University’s Academic Year consists of a 16-week Fall and a 16-week Spring semester with a 12-week Summer term (with 6 different sessions) acting as a trailer (for administration of financial aid) to the Academic Year.  The full academic year is 24 credit hours and 30 weeks long. The Fall and the Spring semesters each contain an “intersession” that begins before the regular semester. These intersession courses are, for financial aid purposes, attached to the full-length semester that comes before them. For example, the December intersession courses are considered to be a part of the Fall Semester. Fall semester courses typically run from late-August through mid- December and Spring semester courses typically run from mid-January through early-May. Summer courses typically run from early-May through late-July. For further information regarding the academic year please see the EPPM that details the University calendar and what the calendar includes. The calendar considerations apply to all programs except the Medical School where that program has four terms (fall, winter, spring, summer) compared to the two for all the other programs. Additionally, the Registrars website notates the academic calendar and it is here you can select the campus and the term.

Cost of Attendance (COA)

The estimated total cost of attendance for attending an institution for one academic year. This amount may include the following:

  • Tuition (Direct Charge) – Charges for one academic year of tuition based on residency, campus and assumed full-time enrollment.
  • Mandatory Fees (Direct Charges) – Charges assessed for other college services (e.g. technology access, recreational center use, etc.)
  • Room (Indirect Cost) – Estimated cost; Includes residence hall charges for on-campus students or an estimate of rent and utilities for an off-campus student
  • Board (Indirect Cost) – Estimated cost; Includes the cost of a meal plan and/or an estimate of the costs of food prepared at home
  • Transportation (Indirect Cost) – Estimated transportation and parking costs
  • Books (Indirect Cost) – Estimated costs for books and supplies
  • Miscellaneous (Indirect Cost) – Estimate costs such as personal hygiene, laundry, and reasonable entertainment, average loan fees

Per cost of attendance regulations, housing, food, transportation and miscellaneous components are calculated based on actual weeks of enrollment within the term and not necessarily on the amount of credits taken.

Department Fee Waiver Placeholder

If you have received a Graduate Assistant Fee Waiver spring 2023, SFS is estimating that you will be receiving this resource for the upcoming awarding year. This is not a guarantee that you have been approved for these funds. This is just a placeholder and does not disburse. If you are certain you will not be on an assistantship and receiving these funds, you can email SFS and we will remove this placeholder.

Direct Costs

Charges included in a students University bill that the student/family pays directly to the college.

Educational Loans

A form of financial aid that must be repaid.  The money borrowed is meant to finance post-secondary education or higher education-related expenses. Educational loans are intended to cover the cost of tuition, books and supplies, and living expenses while the borrower is in the process of pursuing a degree. Students generally are not required to pay back on their loans while attending college, with some students being able to defer their payments up to 6 months after graduation.

Federal Student Loans

Federal funds made available to the student through federal student loans must be paid back by the student. Students must complete Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissory Note (MPN) to receive these loans. Repayment begins six months after the student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time, with options to defer payments available. To be eligible, a student must be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program of study.

Federal Direct Subsidized Student Loan

Loan funds provided to the student by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. Undergraduate students with financial need can qualify for a subsidized loan. The government pays the interest on the loan while the student remains enrolled at least half time and during certain periods when the government allows deferment of repayment. There are annual limits on the amounts that may be borrowed, which vary by the student’s academic year in school and the student’s dependent or independent status.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan

Loan funds provided to the student by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. Undergraduate students and graduate students regardless of their need, qualify for an unsubsidized loan, provided they have filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Interest accrual begins immediately, and the student can choose to pay the interest while enrolled or upon entering repayment. There are annual limits on the amounts that may be borrowed, which vary by the student’s academic year in school and the student’s dependent or independent status.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

Loan funds provided to graduate students by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. This Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan program allows graduate students with no adverse credit history to apply for a loan amount up to their Cost of Attendance each year, less any other financial aid received.

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan (PLUS)

Loan funds provided to the parents of dependent undergraduate students by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. This Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan program allows parents with no adverse credit history to apply for a loan amount up to the  Cost of Attendance each year, less any financial aid received by the dependent student. Repayment of principal and interest begins immediately once the loan is fully disbursed with some options to delay payment available.

Private Loan

A student or parent loan from a commercial, state-affiliated or institutional lender used to pay for up to the annual  Cost of Attendance, less any financial aid received. Private loans have varying interest rates, fees and repayment options and usually require the applicant to be creditworthy, or have a creditworthy cosigner. Repayment generally begins immediately.

Enrollment Status

Academic workload (or course load), as defined by the institution, in which a student is enrolled for a defined academic period. This normally relates to the number of credit hours or clock hours taken by a student during a given academic period (e.g. full-time, three-quarter-time, half-time, less-than-half-time).

Estimated Financial Aid Offer

Provided to students who qualify for funding as a result of completing a FAFSA or WASFA.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

An eligibility index that college financial aid staff use to determine how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school. The EFC is calculated according to a formula specified in law and is based upon the information provided by the student and their family on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Use EFC calculator to calculate your EFC.

FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid)

Federal Form students complete to be considered for federal financial aid. To complete this application, log into to get started. **You will need an FSA ID and password to complete this application.

Family Financial Responsibility (FFR)

WSU awards institutional need-based scholarships and grants based upon comprehensive calculations of family financial circumstances. This can result in a higher (or lower) figure than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) might indicate with its  Expected Family Contribution (EFC) estimate. For a better understanding of EFC, please visit our WSU Financial Aid Estimator page to approximate how much aid you could receive.

Federal Pell Grant

A federal grant provided by the federal government to undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need and have an Expected Family Contribution below a certain threshold established by the federal government. The Pell Grant award amount is prorated based on Enrollment Status.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

A federal grant awarded by the institution to qualified undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. For FSEOG, priority is given to Federal Pell Grant recipients.

Federal Work-Study (FWS)

A federal program offered and administered by the institution that provides opportunity for part-time employment to students with financial need to help pay their educational expenses. Students are responsible for finding qualified employment. FWS funds are paid out through a paycheck, as earned.

Gift Aid

Funds awarded to the student that do not have to be repaid, unless the student fails to meet certain criteria, such as a service requirement that is specified as a condition of the gift aid or not completing the period for which the aid was awarded. Gift aid can include awards with titles such as grants, scholarships, remissions, awards, waivers, etc. Gift aid can be awarded based upon many factors, including (but not limited to) financial need, academic excellence, athletic, musical, and/or theatrical talent, affiliation with various groups, and/or career aspirations.


A form Gift-Aid that is based on financial need that students generally do not need to pay back. Grants cover a variety of education-related expenses, such as tuition and fees, room and board, and books and supplies.

Indirect Costs

Estimated expenses associated with attending college that do not appear on a student’s University bill, but should be included when budgeting for school.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG)

A federal grant to qualifying students with a parent or guardian who died as a result of U.S. military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. If a student is eligible for a  Federal Pell Grant, he or she cannot receive an IASG.


The difference between cost and ability to pay. The student’s  Expected Family Contribution, or Family Financial Responsibility (if applicable) is subtracted from their Cost of Attendance. The remaining balance is the students financial need when assessing financial aid.

Net Price

Amount of direct and indirect costs remaining after all  Gift Aid is applied. Net price can be covered through a variety of sources, including: savings, income, and education loans.

Placeholder Awards

These are funding sources that count as estimated financial assistance. This fund source does not disburse through Student Financial Services. There are a variety of ways SFS is notified of these resources

  • A department or outside source sends funds directly to the Bursar’s Office to apply toward specific charges. Bursar’s Office sends notification to SFS and a placeholder award is added. SFS estimates the same amount for spring term but this is not a guarantee you will receive these funds. You will want to inquire with the awarding source to validate what your expected award is each term.
  • You’ve notified SFS of Estimated Financial Assistance. SFS will account for these funds as a placeholder award.
  • Work Study funding is awarded as placeholder funding noting the approved maximum amount of Work Study you are eligible for each term.

Program Level

Level of the degree-granting program in which a student is enrolled. Program levels may include: undergraduate (students seeking an associate degree, an undergraduate certificate, or a baccalaureate degree); post-baccalaureate (such as teacher certification); or graduate (students working on a master’s degree, graduate certificate, doctorate, or professional degree). The amounts and types of financial aid for which a student is eligible is determined, in part, by their program level.


Gift Aid  that is typically based on merit, such as, academic excellence, talent, affiliation with various groups, or career aspirations or a combination of merit and need. Students generally do not need to repay this aid.


An institution’s expectation that a student contributes towards their education using a combination of loans, student employment such as  Federal Work-Study, and/or summer savings.

State Work-Study (SWS)

A state program offered and administered by the institution that provides opportunity for part-time employment to students with financial need to help pay their educational expenses. Students are responsible for finding qualified employment. Funds are paid out through a paycheck, as earned.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants

TEACH grants are federal grants for undergraduate and graduate students, awarded in exchange for specific future teaching service in designated high-need fields and low-income elementary and secondary schools. If a student does not complete the required teaching service, the grant becomes a  Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan that must be repaid.

Unmet Need

The student’s  Cost of Attendance, minus their  Expected Family Contribution  or  Family Financial Responsibility (if applicable), less any need-based aid received, such as Gift Aid,  Federal Work-Study or  Federal Direct Subsidized Loans.


A federally mandated process to confirm the accuracy of data provided by selected applicants on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To complete the verification process, the student, their parent(s), or spouse, if applicable, are required to provide certain documents to the school for review. If the documentation the student provides the institution doesn’t match what was reported on the FAFSA, verification can result in changes to the student’s financial aid eligibility, and/or financial aid offers.

WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid)

An application for Washington State resident students who are not eligible to complete the FAFSA.