Financial Aid


  • Prospective college or university students and their parents/legal guardians should apply for financial aid for the first time on October 1 of grade 12.
  • Use 2018 tax information to complete the 2020-21 FAFSA.

FAFSA . . .
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application colleges use to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans, and work-study programs. 
To start the FAFSA application process, go to

WASFA . . . 
The Washington Application for State Financial Aid is for students unable to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) due to immigration status.
To start the WASFA application process, go to

Important FAFSA Information
      -The FAFSA is a requirement for ALL college admissions.  If your family does not qualify for financial aid, the FAFSA is still required.  It may help students earn scholarships, grants, or provide lower interest rates on loans.
      -Submit the FAFSA immediately after October 1 if applying for college next fall.  Please Note:  you need to meet the "college" FAFSA deadline, which is much earlier than the "federal" FAFSA deadline.
      -Many priority financial aid deadlines for colleges/universities is in February.  To get the best financial award package, apply by the colleges' priority date.
      -It is also important for your family to make contact with the financial aid office with the colleges the student applies to in order to ensure they have received all the necessary information by the deadline.  Keep copies of everything you send.

If you have questions about how to complete your FAFSA or other questions, go to Or call toll-free, 1-800-4-FED-AID. Or ask for assistance from the staff of the financial aid office of the college or university to which the student is applying.

Students/Families may also attend a free event at many Whatcom County high schools called College Goal Washington so that they can get in-depth help filling out the FAFSA / WASFA and/or be able to ask questions.  Click here for a list of College Goal Washington events in the State of Washington.

Financial Aid Night
October 16, 2019 (Wednesday)
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Nooksack Valley High School (Library)

What to Bring to Financial Aid Night/College Goal Washington:
* Your Social Security card/number or Alien registration card (you will not be able to start the FAFSA process without one of these);
* Your driver's license or identification card;
* Your income information (bank statements, a W-2 or pay stub, last year's tax return);
* Your parent's social security number, if they have one;
* Additional financial information (child support statements, TANF or welfare information, real estate, stock or bonds investments, family business information.

All students over 24 are considered independent.  The FAFSA will determine if you are considered dependent or independent.  Only dependents need to file parent information.

College Goal Washington Events in Whatcom County:

October 1, 2018
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Nooksack Valley High School
3326 E Badger Road
Everson   (360-988-2641)

October 9, 2018
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Meridian High School
194 W Laurel Road
Bellingham   (360-398-8111)

October 10, 2018
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Northwest Indian College
2522 Kwina Rd.
Bellingham   (360-676-2772)

October 17, 2018
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Ferndale High School
5830 Golden Eagle Drive
Ferndale   (360-383-9240)

October 21, 2018
1:00 –4:00 p.m.

Squalicum High School
3773 E. McLeod Road
Bellingham  (360-676-6470)

Understanding "Grants vs. Loans"
      -Federal GRANTS are available for students attending colleges, including career colleges and universities.  Grants, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid.
      -Federal student LOANS allow students and their parents to borrow money to help pay for college.  They have low interest rates and offer flexible repayment terms, benefits, and options.
      -Subsidized loans are federally guaranteed loans based on financial need.  Interest does not accrue on the loan while you are in school at least half time, or during any future deferment periods.  The federal government "subsidizes" (or pays) the interest during these times.  Additionally there are maximum amounts you can receive per school year.
      -Unsubsidized loans are federally guaranteed loans that are not based on financial need.  Interest does accrue from the time the loan is disbursed to the school.  Additionally, there are maximum amounts you can receive per school year for dependent and independent students.

Understanding "Expected Family Contribution"
All college students are expected to contribute towards their education costs.  How much you and your family will be expected to contribute depends on your financial situation and is what's called your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  The FAFSA is the form the U.S. Department of Education requires to determine your EFC.  The government conducts a "need analysis" based on financial information, such as income, assets, and other family information, which you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) will be asked to provide.

Use the Net Price Calculator
All undergraduate colleges are required to have a net price calculator on their website.  This provides students with an estimated cost to attend college.  Here is a link for students to estimate their costs:

Financial Aid Web Sites: - from U.S. Department of Education – from U.S. Department of Education – Free Application for Federal Student Aid - Washington Application for State Financial Aid – Hope and Lifetime Learning tax credits - Northwest Education Loan Association and  – General information about scholarships, financial aid, planning a career, selecting a school, paying for school, and chat nights  - Search for a school by name, location, program, degree offerings, or a combination of criteria