WSU bolsters financial support for out-of-state students

A composite featuring the top of a FAFSA form and a family taking a tour of the WSU Pullman campus.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid continues to be an important, but too often overlooked, resource for students and families.

Washington State University is taking steps to recruit more out-of-state students to help improve overall undergraduate enrollment.

Under the plan, prospective U.S. students living outside the state of Washington could be eligible for tuition support that would bring the cost down closer to what in-state residents pay.

The effort was announced in a Feb. 15 letter to the WSU community from President Kirk Schulz, who described it as investing in an expansion of the university’s Western Undergraduate Exchange tuition waiver. Now, all out-of-state students who enroll at WSU this fall with grade point averages above 3.0 can receive up to $11,000 in awards annually.

Administered to students as the Distinguished Cougar Award, the award persists with students as they work towards their undergraduate degrees. The investment by WSU raises the maximum amount of the individual awards with GPAs between 3.0 and 3.39 by $4,000 per year, with students at both WSU Tri‑Cities and WSU Pullman eligible.

“We know that students, not just in our region but around the country, are interested in furthering their education at WSU, and we feel this investment will help to make this obtainable,” Saichi Oba, vice provost for Enrollment Management, said.

Western states like California, Oregon, Hawaii and Colorado generate the most applications from students outside of Washington, underscoring the value in expanding the Western Undergraduate Exchange tuition waiver. Member universities like WSU allow students from the wider region to obtain an education at a cost no more than 150% of what residential students pay. WSU extends financial support beyond the western states by making the Distinguished Cougar Award available to any student in the United States.

WSU has made significant investments in financial aid for both in-state and out-of-state students in recent years. Approximately $170 million in scholarships, grants, and waivers is distributed by the university each year. In the last eight years, the percent of resident undergraduates who pay no tuition has increased from 31% to 37%, with the percent graduating with no debt climbing from 39.6% to 50% in 2022.

Efforts also are underway to help increase awareness among in-state students in particular of both the federal and state education assistance available to Washington residents. WSU staff are continuing to educate students on the importance of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, as well as the Washington Application for State Financial Aid, or WAFSA, to see what aid might be available to them beyond what the university provides.

Later in his letter, Schulz noted that an additional $500,000 in university funds is being directed to enrollment management to bolster the number of staff processing student applications. This is being done to ensure prospective students receive prompt responses from the university, as this can make a significant difference in a student’s decision on where to continue their education after high school. Some of that funding will also be used for welcome packets to all families of confirmed students, and for outreach events in California.

“President Schulz demonstrated his support for our efforts in making these investments, and there is tremendous optimism for the fall 2023 semester,” Oba said.

WSU admissions counselors are also reaching out to nearly 12,000 prospective students for one-on-one appointments to discuss questions about financial aid, potential majors, and next steps for enrolling at one of WSU’s campuses. More than 800 appointments have already been scheduled as part of this initiative.

More information about scholarships available to out-of-state students is available on the Office of Finance Aid website.

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