May 1 deadline for Real Hope Act student financial aid

By Steve Nakata, Student Affairs and Enrollment

ready-set-grad-120PULLMAN, Wash. – Students have until May 1 to submit the Washington Application for State Financial Aid, or WASFA, to Washington State University. But they are encouraged to submit it as soon as possible.

“The sooner students complete the WASFA, the better chance they have of receiving a grant because funds are limited,” said Marcela Pattinson who coordinates WSU outreach to undocumented students.

Pattinson-Marcela-80The WAFSA provides undocumented students who meet certain criteria an opportunity to qualify for State Need Grant funds. The funds are available to these students because of the Real Hope Act, approved by the state Legislature and governor during the 2014 session.

The WAFSA can be accessed at

Students or parents who have questions are encouraged to contact WSU Student Financial Services, or 509-335-9711, or WSU Office of Admissions, or toll-free 888-468-6978.

The new law makes Washington the third state (after Texas and California) to provide financial aid to noncitizens. In 2003, Washington implemented House Bill (HB)1079 which offers in-state tuition to students who graduate from high school, live in the state for three years and promise to pursue citizenship.

The Real Hope Act is specific to the State Need Grant program and expanded the definition of in-state residency to include HB1079 students. The act included an additional appropriation of $5 million for the State Need Grant program.

The program helps the state’s lowest-income undergraduate students pursue degrees, hone skills or retrain for new careers. Students who meet program requirements can use the grants at eligible institutions in Washington.

“This really is a great opportunity for undocumented students to obtain money for college,” said Pattinson. “But they must apply to be considered.”

The additional $5 million is included in the total appropriation of $308 million, which is expected to serve 77,000 students. State Need Grant awards are not guaranteed as the additional funding is not earmarked for undocumented students.

Typically the priority deadline to apply for federal financial aid is Jan. 1-Feb. 15. But because the Real Hope Act was recently enacted, this year HB1079 students are encouraged to apply by May 1.

WAFSA-220The Washington Student Achievement Council administers the state’s financial aid programs and contracted with Access Group Inc. to provide the WASFA to these newly eligible students.

Ready, Set, Grad is the state’s new college preparation and funding information and awareness website. The site launched in 2012 to provide information to students, families and educators statewide.



Marcela Pattinson, WSU Outreach & Undocumented Initiatives, 509-335-7326,

Steve Nakata, Director of Communications, WSU Student Affairs & Enrollment, 509-335-1774,