Accredited Degree Programs, Scholarships and Resources for Top Schools
More Washington state students are enrolling in four-year college programs than ever before. In fact, more than 52,000 students are enrolled in Private colleges throughout Washington, plus more than 310,000 attending the state's public institutions. Many students are leaning towards earning degrees online as opposed to attending classes on-campus, and major corporations are even partnering with colleges, such as Eastern Washington University's data analytics partnership with Microsoft, to help them provide specialized, quality curriculum. With dozens of schools to choose from, students often find it difficult to know which online program is right for them-this page takes the guesswork out of the process by providing advice on everything from funding your online college education to finding the best online programs for your interests in Washington state.
Best Online Colleges in Washington
Students can choose from dozens of affordable, accredited online schools and colleges in Washington. In-state tuition rates for Washington students are less than the national average, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Out-of-state students may qualify for reduced tuition rates through the Western Undergraduate Exchange, a regional tuition reciprocity agreement that ensures that learners pay no more than 150% of in-state tuition at participating colleges.
This guide can help you find the best online schools and colleges in Washington. The following sections include information about financial aid options, earning potential for Washington graduates, and the importance of attending an accredited school.
City Spotlight: Colleges in Washington
The largest city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is home to nine nonprofit colleges and universities. Whether on-campus or online, these schools provide academic and career training to help graduates contribute to the city's bustling, tech-oriented economy. Seattle residents can choose from small, special-focus colleges or gigantic institutions that award thousands of degrees annually.
The Seattle Colleges comprise the largest community college district in the state, educating more than 50,000 students each year through three community colleges, four specialized training centers and Seattle Vocational Institute. Students can choose from more than 135 academic and career-technical programs, encompassing certificates, associate degrees, professional-technical training, adult basic education and continuing education. And, unlike most community colleges, the Seattle Colleges also award bachelor of applied science degrees.
Colleges and Universities in Seattle
|Seattle Central College||Public (4-year)||Certificates, Associate degrees, BAS degrees, Continuing education|
|North Seattle College||Public (4-year)||Certificates, Associate degrees, BAS degrees, Continuing education|
|South Seattle College||Public (4-year)||Certificates, Associate degrees, BAS degrees, Continuing education|
|University of Washington||Public (4-year)||Undergraduate and graduate degrees, Certificates|
|Seattle University||Private Nonprofit||Certificates, Bachelor's and graduate degrees|
|City University of Seattle||Private Nonprofit||Certificates, Undergraduate and graduate degrees|
|Antioch University Seattle||Private Nonprofit||Certificates, Bachelor's and graduate degrees|
|Cornish College of the Arts||Private Nonprofit||BFA, BMus, Certificates, Lifelong learning|
|Seattle Pacific University||Private Nonprofit|
|Certificates, Bachelor's and graduate degrees|
How Much More Do College Grads in Washington Make?
Higher levels of education typically lead to increased earning potential, in Washington and throughout the nation. A 2015 report by Washington's Education Research & Data Center showed that four-year degrees, apprenticeships, certificate programs, and associate degrees all improve earning potential significantly, especially in the short term.
The table below illustrates the nationwide correlation between educational attainment and salary potential. The data shows that bachelor's degree-holders earn an average salary more than $24,000 higher than that of individuals with only a high school diploma. Earning potential increases further for individuals with a master's or doctoral degree.
|Less Than a High School Diploma||High School Diploma||Associate Degree||Bachelor's Degree||Master's Degree||Doctoral Degree|
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Paying for Online College in Washington: Tuition and Financial Aid
The cost of attending college in Washington depends on the learner's residency status and the type of school. The tables below compare average tuition rates in Washington to the national averages. In-state tuition in Washington costs about $2,000 less than the national average. However, out-of-state learners pay about $2,600 more than the national average. Tuition rates at private schools in the state are also higher than the national average.
|In-State Tuition||Out-of-State Tuition||National Average|
|$6,830||$28,263||$9,037 (In-State); $25,657 (Out-of-State)|
|Tuition||Out-of-State Tuition||National Average|
Cost Considerations for Online Students in Washington
The figures above do not include the cost of room and board or additional costs for out-of-state students. Fees and expenses vary by program, so learners should contact their institution for details. Below are some cost considerations for students attending online schools and colleges in Washington.
Some online programs require learners to visit campus for workshops, discussions, or presentations. These requirements may cause students to incur costs associated with airfare, lodging, and meals.
Although distance learners often save money on housing and transportation costs, online education requires Wi-Fi access, up-to-date technology, and physical or digital textbooks.
Specific Program Costs
Some schools charge higher tuition rates for more popular online programs. Additionally, graduate and professional programs in areas such as engineering and nursing often cost more per credit.
Many schools charge fees specific to online learners. Students may need to pay fees related to library services, clinical courses, graduation, criminal background checks, and technology services.
Tuition Agreements for Out-of-State Students
Some Washington schools charge all online students the same tuition rates, regardless of residency. Learners in participating states may receive tuition discounts through the Western Undergraduate Exchange.
Qualifying for In-State Tuition in Washington
To qualify for in-state tuition rates in Washington, prospective students must demonstrate residency. Qualifying students must typically have lived in Washington for at least one year prior to the first day of class -- for a reason other than attending school. Individual schools often set unique residency requirements, so learners should contact their prospective institution to verify their eligibility for in-state tuition rates.
Out-of-state students who participate in the Western Undergraduate Exchange save an average of $9,400 per year. Participating learners pay no more than 150% of in-state tuition rates. To take part in the Western Undergraduate Exchange, students must reside in a qualifying state and must attend a participating institution.
Paying for College in Washington: Scholarships and Financial Aid
To reduce student debt, learners should apply for all grants and scholarships for which they meet eligibility requirements. Students attending accredited online schools and colleges in Washington can apply for various types of financial aid. Some opportunities require Washington residency, but many are also available to out-of-state students.
Scholarships for Washington College Students
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports low-income Washington residents with close cultural or social ties to an American Indian community or tribe. Upper-division and graduate students receive priority.
Who Can Apply: Paraeducators with at least one year of teaching experience can apply for this scholarship. Applicants can also qualify with two years of experience as a Recruiting Washington Teachers participant. Recipients must earn an associate degree within four years and agree to teach for two years in a Washington public school after graduation.
Amount: Up to $4,000 per year
Who Can Apply: This scholarship helps Washington educators earn a teaching certificate endorsement in a shortage area. Recipients must earn the endorsement within two years and agree to teach for two years in a Washington public school.
Amount: Up to $3,000
Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to Washington residents with a high school diploma or GED credential from the state. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and have a minimum 2.75 GPA. Students must be pursuing a bachelor's degree in a STEM or healthcare field at an eligible Washington college.
Who Can Apply: Washington residents with a high school diploma or GED credential can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and must pursue an eligible associate degree, certificate, or apprenticeship program at a Washington community or technical college.
Amount: Up to $1,500 per quarter
Grants for Washington College Students
Who Can Apply: Low-income and middle-income Washington residents attending an approved college or training program can apply for this grant. All eligible students receive funding.
Amount: Up to full tuition
Who Can Apply: The Washington State Legislature awards these funds to low-income residents. Students must apply by the end of their eighth grade year and must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the Washington Application for State Financial Aid.
Who Can Apply: Washington residents experiencing unaccompanied homelessness can apply for this award. Students who were in Washington, federal, or tribal foster care after age 14 can also qualify. Recipients cannot apply funds toward a theology degree.
Amount: Up to $4,500
Who Can Apply: Washington residents who were in Washington, federal, or tribal foster care after age 14 or who are experiencing unaccompanied homelessness can apply for this funding. Recipients must attend an eligible apprenticeship program.
Who Can Apply: This grant supports Washington residents with a minimum 2.0 GPA and whose income falls at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. Applicants must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the Washington Application for State Financial Aid.
The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Washington
To ensure they receive a high-quality education, students researching online schools and colleges in Washington should only consider accredited institutions. Accredited schools undergo independent evaluation by a third party. Accreditation demonstrates that faculty, curricula, and academic support services meet minimum standards. Online schools and colleges in Washington may carry multiple types of accreditation, including institutional and programmatic accreditation.
Regional and National Accreditation
The two main types of institutional accreditation in the U.S. are regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditation generally applies to degree-granting institutions, while vocational and technical colleges often earn national accreditation.
Many types of financial aid are only available to students attending regionally accredited schools. Additionally, many employers and graduate schools only recognize degrees earned from regionally accredited institutions.The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities provides regional accreditation to postsecondary institutions in Washington.
Individual programs often earn subject-specific accreditation. Licensure for certain professions, such as teaching, counseling, and nursing, require a degree from an accredited program. Field-specific accrediting agencies include the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs, and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
How to Know if Your School or Program is Accredited
To determine whether a school or program holds accreditation, learners can search directories from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. These databases include information on accredited schools and programs, along with recognized accrediting agencies. Additionally, most accredited institutions feature their accreditation status on their website. Schools that do not prominently display credentials may not be reputable options.
Online College and Adult Education in Washington
Not all learners attend college immediately after graduating high school, and some professionals want to advance their career through additional training and skills development. The sections below include information about online and in-person adult education opportunities in Washington State.
By the Numbers: Adult Education in Washington
Adult Education Programs for Washington Students
This program helps adults in Washington improve their English language skills while preparing for careers and postsecondary education.
This program helps Washington adults earn their high school diploma at minimal or no cost. Many Washington community colleges participate in the program, which includes basic skills classes and more advanced training.
This nationally renowned adult education program helps learners gain both job training and basic skills in areas such as writing, reading, and math. Participants concurrently earn high school and college credits.
Online College Resources for Washington Students
Washington students can access online resources that simplify the process of pursuing higher education. The resources below can help Washington learners prepare for college, apply to schools, and finance their education. The following websites include information about financial aid and career preparation.