Online Colleges in Washington

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Washington state, named after the nation’s first president, is working hard to become number one in higher education.

The Washington Student Achievement Council was tasked with developing a ten-year “Roadmap” of goals to help increase educational attainment state-wide. In 2015, they announced their two-part goal:

  • By 2023, 100% of adults 25-44 in Washington will have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • By 2023, at least 70% of adults 25-44 in Washington will have a postsecondary credential

To support these goals, the state will focus on affordability, grant funding and expanding their dual-credit programs. As of 2019, the state was showing modest progress, with high school attainment rates just under 91% and postsecondary education attainment rate at 57%.

With such impressive goals, it’s clear the state of Washington values higher education.

Overview of Higher Education in Washington

In Washington there are 74 degree-granting institutions, according to a 2018-2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Of these, 43 are public, 22 are private non-profit and 9 are private for-profit.

The NCES also reports tuition rates for the state to attend one of the 4-year public institutions residents will pay around $7,036, while non-residents will pay $29,228.

Those who cannot find their chosen major at area schools can take advantage of the state’s partnership with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).  WICHE’s Student Exchange Program allows students to enroll in degree programs at schools in any of the 16 participating states and territories for no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate.

About Online Colleges in Washington

As of 2018, the NCES reported that 10.7% of Washington’s undergraduate and graduate students were already enrolled exclusively in online courses, while another 16.4% were participating in a hybrid of online and on-campus courses. Since then, the numbers have risen as colleges have increased their online offerings.

Today, one of the state’s top online programs is at Washington State University (WSU), which is ranked among US News and World Reports’ Top 25 Online Bachelor’s Programs. WSU offers online degrees in Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Hospitality Business, Humanities, Psychology, Sociology and many other disciplines at the undergraduate and graduate level. Online students have access to academic advisors, 24/7 tech support, their own student services staff and student government, online tutoring and writing labs, and are invited to meet on-campus students at events and seminars.

At University of Washington students also have a variety of online options, including more than 40 different certificates, and multiple bachelors and masters degree programs.

It’s not just public schools; private universities are on-board when it comes to online learning, too.

Gonzaga University has around 1900 online graduate students pursuing degrees in Communication and Leadership Studies, Organizational Leadership, Sport and Athletic Administration, Theology and Leadership or Nursing Programs.

Students at Saint Martin’s University can access 150 online courses, from Psychology to Economics, and Art to Computer Science.

Scholarships and Financial Aid in Washington

If you want to earn your postsecondary degree in Washington, you will first need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA gives you access to all kinds of aid – federal, state and private. Even if you don’t believe you will qualify for need-based aid, you should complete the application. It can open the door to low-interest loans, and may be required by your college.

Be sure to complete the FAFSA early, since most aid money is awarded on a first come, first served basis. The application will be available on October 1st of the year before you plan to attend.

The application itself will include questions about your finances and the finances of your parents (unless you are considered “independent”), and the information you provide will be used to determine how much and what type of financial aid you are eligible for.

College grants for Washington students

In Washington, the Washington Student Achievement Council administers a number of financial aid programs, known as “Opportunity Pathways.” Here are some of these programs:

  • Washington College Grant —Need-based grant for low-income undergraduates
  • Educational Opportunity Grant– Helps low-income students complete up to one year of college and a certificate in a high-wage, high-demand career
  • Opportunity Scholarship Program—Supports low- and middle-income students pursuing certificates, apprenticeships, associate or bachelor’s degrees in the STEM or healthcare fields; Must meet income and academic requirements
  • College Bound Scholarship – For 7th and 8th grade students whose families meet income requirements, are in foster care or meet other financial assistance requirements and pledge to graduate college with a GPA of 2.0 or higher, apply to college, submit the FAFSA and have no felony convictions
  • WASFA – Similar to FAFSA, but for students who are not eligible for federal aid because of immigration status

The state also offers aid to support American Indians and students pursuing degrees in teaching, healthcare or aerospace.

Additionally, Washingtonians are eligible to apply for private scholarships, such as the following:

Scholarship Name Details

Scholarship amount

Stimson Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship Essay contest for high school seniors or undergraduates who live, go to school or work in Seattle; Must have an active Seattle Public Library card

(1) $5000
(2) $2500

Wendy Jackson Hall Memorial Scholarship For high school seniors who  have been accepted into the art program of a 4-year school; Must have financial need and a GPA of 3.0 or higher


American Society of Civil Engineers Seattle Younger Member Forum Scholarship For high school seniors who plan to pursue a field related to math, science, technology or engineering at a 4-year school

Up to $1000

The Nellie Martin Carman Scholarship For seniors at public high schools in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties

(35-40 awards per year) $500-2000

Lori Rhett Memorial Scholarship For undergraduate students in the west region who make significant contributions to campus and display significant leadership skills; Must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher


You can find more scholarship opportunities like these by using search sites like Just enter some basic demographic information and you will be matched with dozens of scholarships for which you can apply.

Finally, reach out to the financial aid office at the school you have chosen. Most have financial aid programs available – both need- and merit-based – and will work with you to make your college experience affordable.

List of Online Colleges in Washington

Online Colleges in Washington Location Annual Tuition Accreditation Application Fee
Eastern Washington University Cheney, Washington  $6,951  Regional  $50
Central Washington University Ellensburg, Washington  $7,719  Regional  $50
Washington State University Pullman, Washington  $11,041  Regional  $50
City University of Seattle Seattle, Washington  $16,748  Regional  $50
University of Washington Seattle, Washington  $10,753  Regional  $70
Gonzaga University Spokane, Washington  $39,730  Regional  $50
Charter College Vancouver, Washington  $21,887  National  $0
American University Washington D.C.  $44,853  Regional    $55
Catholic University of America Washington, District of Columbia  $42,536  Regional  $55
George Washington University Washington, District of Columbia  $51,950  Regional  $75
Georgetown University Washington, District of Columbia  $50,547  Regional  $75
Howard University Washington, District of Columbia  $24,908  Regional  $45
Strayer University Washington, District of Columbia  $12,975  Regional  $0
University of the Potomac Washington, District of Columbia  $13,884  Regional  $0


What’s great is getting better, in Washington state.

The state has high goals for improving its already excellent schools, financial aid resources and online degree programs, proving it is and will continue to be an excellent place to earn your postsecondary degree.

Ready to start your journey?
Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.