Washington is an excellent state for adult learners. You can get financial help from a variety of sources—the federal government, the state of Washington, the campus you attend, your employer, and private scholarships. There are financial resources if you are recently unemployed or need to retrain for a new career. Washington College Grant has recently expanded state funding for more students.


Grants are “free money”—meaning you don’t have to pay them back. Students with financial need can often qualify. Award amounts vary, and there is a limit to how much students can receive.

If you receive grants and you stop attending classes, you could be required to pay the money back. Be sure to talk to the financial aid office before dropping or withdrawing from classes.

Common grants available when students complete a financial aid application:

  • Federal Pell Grant: Eligible students may receive up to $6,195 for 2019.

  • Washington College Grant: Eligible students may receive funds to cover up to the cost of tuition and some fees. Maximum amounts depend on the college—from $4,000 at a community college to $11,000 at the UW or WSU in Fall 2019.

  • Campus Funding: Eligibility, funding, and application processes vary. Students may receive tuition waivers, grants, and scholarships.

Special Program Funding

There are also grant programs based on your circumstances or your course of study. They typically require a separate application process.

The programs below are just a few examples of programs offered to adults. Other resources may come through organizations that are assisting you. Let your supporters know you are interested in pursuing education and training.

  • Scholarships: Campuses, community organizations, and others can offer scholarships. Usually require an application.

  • Military-Connected Benefits: A variety of supports exists to support veterans, active military and qualified family members with tuition and educational costs.

  • Worker Retraining: Unemployed workers or homemakers who need to return to work can receive temporary assistance to pursue basic skills or workforce programs. Check with the community college for more information.

  • Opportunity Grant: Students pursuing high-demand programs in community and technical colleges can receive tuition funding and other support for one year.

  • Basic Food, Employment and Training (BFET): Students eligible for food assistance may also receive tuition and financial support as they earn workforce credentials. Contact the community college for more information.

  • WorkFirst: Students receiving TANF may be eligible for tuition and books. Contact the community college for more information.

Employer Assistance

Many employers offer tuition assistance to employees. Employers may reimburse employees after the term is completed or pay the tuition when it is due.

Exhausted Aid

Adults who have exhausted their financial aid eligibility have already received the allowable total. The Pell Grant allows six years’ worth of full-time assistance, and the Washington College Grant (formerly State Need Grant) allows five years. If students are running out of federal and state grant assistance, they should consult with the financial aid office about campus assistance, apply for scholarships, ask about help from their employer, look into special program funding, and if necessary, consider small student loans.


  • Find out which grant programs you qualify for by completing a financial aid application.

  • Talk to the financial aid office before dropping any classes to see if it will affect eligibility.

  • Ask your employer if they offer a tuition assistance program.

  • If you are a military service member, veteran or family member, learn how to apply for and manage education and training benefits.

  • If you receive support from DSHS, DVR, L&I or any other organization, ask them about eligibility for education benefits.

Ask the Campus

  • Which scholarships are offered to adult learners?

  • Can you identify fund sources that fit my circumstances (such as loss of job, receiving other public benefits, need for childcare)?


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