Financial Aid

Dome buidling with flag and diploma and bag of money

When do I apply for financial aid?

High School seniors can apply for financial aid after January 1st for the year they will begin college. Colleges use the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form which should be filed online at Colleges use the information from FAFSA to determine your student aid. You will usually get an offer of student aid at the same time you receive your acceptance from a college. The Olympia School District hosts a Financial Aid Information Night yearly in November for parents. 

The single most important thing you must do to receive financial aid is to complete the FAFSA. Some colleges and scholarships require additional application forms, but the FAFSA is your starting point for all financial aid. Apply for your PINs (Personal Identification Numbers) at in the fall of the senior year so you will have them for the application time in January.

Financial Aid Videos: Sign up for the free Federal Student Aid Channel on YOU TUBE at On this YOU TUBE Channel the FSA have video links to help you through the process of preparing for post-secondary education.  Topics include:

  • Preparing for College
  • Types of Aid for College
  • Who Gets Aid for College
  • FAFSA (Applying for Aid)

Who should complete a FAFSA? All students should complete the FAFSA, regardless of your
income. Many colleges require students to submit a FAFSA to be considered for any type of
scholarship or financial help, regardless of income.

Where can I get a FAFSA? You can get a FAFSA form at your school’s counseling or career
center, or find it at Before completing a FAFSA, you can practice and get an
early estimate of what you may receive through the FAFSA 4Caster at

How do I complete the FAFSA? Both parents (or guardians) and students need to complete
their sections of the form. The FAFSA can be complicated, so you should attend a help session at
your school or at a local community college. Most colleges offer help through their Financial Aid
offices as well. You can also find help and resources at

When should I complete a FAFSA? During the fall of your senior year, apply for a Personal
Identification Number (PIN) at Each student and parents need separate PINs.
Save this information to send your FAFSA electronically to each college. You must submit your FAFSA by January 1st. There is a place to mark if you have or have not completed your IRS Tax forms. FAFSA now offers an optional link directly to IRS forms. Allow three weeks from electronic IRS submission for records to be accessible to FAFSA.

[Tip from an experienced FAFSA submitter:):  Save your PINs in a safe accessible place to use for any amendments to your application. Each year students attend college you will need to reapply for the FAFSA. Using your same PINs you can import much of your original application saving precious time! Especially since you need to fill out one FAFSA for each student you have in college.]

What happens after I submit my FAFSA? Shortly after you submit your FAFSA, you will receive
a SAR (Student Aid Report). This SAR also goes to each of your colleges. The SAR contains a
very important figure: your EFC (Estimated Family Contribution). This is the dollar amount the
federal government believes your family should be able to contribute toward the cost of your
college education. If you disagree with your EFC, you may submit a “Letter of Special Circumstance” to each of the colleges you’re applying to.

What if I’m not eligible for financial aid? If you are not eligible or if your family cannot complete
a FAFSA, you should explain your situation to staff at the Financial Aid office of each college
you’re applying to. You may also apply to scholarships this way, though you may need extra help
from your school’s guidance counselor if you do not have a FAFSA.

When do I hear how much financial aid I will receive? After you have received an acceptance
letter from a college, the Financial Aid office of that college will send you a financial aid package.
It will usually be some combination of family contribution, grants, loans, work study, and
scholarships. Note that you do NOT have to accept this financial aid package. You should
discuss it with your family and your school counselor before agreeing. If you do not think the
financial aid package will work for you, contact the college Financial Aid staff and explain why.

What should I do now to be ready? Here are three simple things you can do to be ready to
apply for financial aid when you are a senior: (1) Attend a college or financial aid presentation
with your family so that they understand how financial aid works; (2) Complete the FAFSA
4Caster to get an early estimate of how much financial aid you might receive
(; and (3) Apply for a PIN ( so that you and your
parents/guardians will be ready to submit a FAFSA during your senior year.

Information provided by: Spark Your Future, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction - OSPI

Financial Aid Presentation given by Julie Japhet, Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board (PowerPoint with Audio) 2008

Financial Aid Night - Capital High School - October 17, 2013 - Archived Web Presentation  (Excellent resource with audio).

Senior Parent Night October 17, 2013 - Break out sessions