Student Financial Aid: FAFSA & WASFA
Almost all colleges require students to complete the FAFSA or WASFA before being considered for any type of scholarship and/or financial aid. In the simplest terms, it is used to determine how much student aid you qualify for based on your family’s financial situation. You don’t need to know all of the colleges that you will be attending in order to file; you can always add or change colleges at a later time.
File the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) if you are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen. Directions for completing the FASFA: https://studentaid.gov/apply-for-aid/fafsa/filling-out
File the WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid) if you are not eligible to complete the FAFSA due to immigration status and meet the eligibility criteria for one of the state aid programs that provide aid to non-citizens.
You can begin completing the FAFSA/WASFA in October. Don't delay too long, as some resources are limited. You will also likely receive information on how much aid you qualify for before you receive admission notifications from colleges. This can help you decide how much you can afford, and which school will best meet your needs, both academically and financially.
The FAFSA/WASFA are always free to file, so be wary of websites mimicking the federal site or requesting a fee.