Passport to Careers Guide: Applying to Passport to Careers

Use the links on the right side of this page—in the blue box titled Passport to Careers Guide—to learn more about the Passport program and the people and resources that are here to help you.

How do I apply for college, apprenticeships, and financial aid?

You can begin considering what path to take after high school when you are still in high school. Review the Preparing for College or Apprenticeship page, especially the information about choosing a career. When you have an idea of the career path or paths you are interested in, you can then search for colleges or apprenticeships that match your choices.

If you aren’t sure of a career path yet, don’t worry—you can begin taking general education classes at a two-year or four-year college and decide later. Or you can take a pre-apprenticeship course to explore a trade program.

Once you know what you want to do, you will need to apply: for the Passport program, for other financial aid, and for the college or apprenticeship program you have selected.

Click on the tabs below to learn more about applying for college or apprenticeships.

College or Technical School

How do I apply to a college or vocational-technical school?

Your high school counselor, Independent Living (IL) providers, and SETuP providers can help you through the college admissions process. You can also work with the college’s admissions office if you have questions about the application or admissions process. Ask for help so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Passport to Careers financial aid must be used at an eligible college in Washington State. Identify colleges that offer the path you are most interested in taking. Explore two- and four-year colleges or vocational-technical schools using the Washington College Access Network’s College Map. You can find colleges by location and college type. Follow the link to each college’s admissions page to learn about campus visits, application deadlines, and other application information. 

Attend college fairs where you can talk to campus staff and learn more about their schools. You can also arrange to visit the college campus—ask your SETuP provider or school counselor for help.

Apprenticeship 

How do I apply to apprenticeships?

State and federal registered apprenticeships that are eligible for Passport to Careers funding information can be found at the Labor and Industries Apprenticeship Programs in Washington web page. Follow the link to the Find an Apprenticeship Program, where you can search for an apprenticeship program by county and occupation, by name, or by employer.

Apprenticeship Consultants located throughout the state can provide you with information about apprenticeship programs in your area.

Pre-Apprenticeship

How do I apply to pre-apprenticeship programs?

The Passport to Careers program will help you with funding if you attend a formally recognized pre-apprenticeship program, which may or may not be at a public community or technical college. To explore the list of eligible programs, visit the Labor and Industries Apprenticeship Prep web page. There are at least twenty pre-apprenticeship programs. Review their location, eligibility information, and application process by clicking on the name of the program.

You don’t have to take a pre-apprenticeship program to become an apprentice, but it can give you a better idea of the trade and help you to be more competitive when applying to an apprenticeship.

Applying for financial aid

After deciding on your path and applying to your college or apprenticeship program, you must also apply for financial aid to pay for expenses. The college or apprenticeship program cannot give you funds without an application. There is money for you to follow your path, but you do need to apply. And you must apply for financial aid every year you are in school or want to receive Passport to College funds for apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.

If you’ve been in care any time after turning 13, your classes will likely be paid for at most Washington State colleges. Expenses for you to enter an apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship program that is not at a college will also likely be paid. It can seem a little complicated, but you shouldn’t let money be a barrier. Read more at: Foster Care to College: Think you can’t afford it? Think again!

Click on the tabs below to learn more about applying for financial aid.

Passport to Careers

How do I apply to the Passport to Careers program?

First step: review the eligibility requirements—including information about the different types of foster care that qualify, and the definition of unaccompanied homelessness—on the Passport overview page.

Submit one of the following:

  1. If you are 13 years old or older: complete the Passport Consent Form. Mail or email the form to the address at the bottom of the form.

  2. If you are a senior in high school and eligible former foster youth: you may complete the Washington Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program Application, a shared common Application for Foster Youth.

  3. If you are a senior in high school and eligible either as a former foster youth or unaccompanied homeless youth: you may complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA.) You must answer the questions regarding your foster care status or homelessness.

After you apply to the Passport to Careers program

WSAC will send you a letter about your Passport eligibility status. If your address changes, please contact the Passport to Careers program at passport@wsac.wa.gov or 1-888-535-0747, option 3.

If you are eligible, colleges that you apply to will automatically see that you are a Passport student; however, you will need to tell the financial aid office so you can receive all the funds and services available to you.

Please note: completing any of the applications listed above gives your consent to share information with colleges and social service agencies. Refer to the consent form for a complete list of organizations.

College Bound Scholarship

You can apply for your first scholarship in middle school!

The College Bound Scholarship program is an early commitment of state financial aid to eligible students who sign up and fulfill the College Bound pledge. If you are placed in Washington State foster care, you are automatically enrolled in the College Bound Scholarship. If you are placed in other types of foster care, you need to apply. Any 7th or 8th grader who meets the income eligibility, is in foster care, or receives TANF/basic assistance may apply.

College Bound’s commitment is that, combined with other state financial aid, the tuition (at public rates), some fees, and a small book allowance will be covered by state financial aid. You can receive the College Bound Scholarship while you earn an approved certificate or degree at over 60 eligible schools in Washington. This includes public and private two- and four-year colleges, technical colleges, and private career schools.

If you are in Washington State foster care, in grades 7–12 (up to age 21), and have not graduated from high school, you will be automatically signed up for the College Bound Scholarship. You will receive a certificate with pledge requirements in the mail, from your school counselor, or from another staff person at your school.

If you are in tribal foster care, federal refugee foster care, or Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) care, you will need to apply for College Bound. Complete an application in 7th or 8th grade or check with your school’s counselor to see if your application was already started.

Beginning with the 2018-19 academic year, a school counselor or another staff member at your school may sign your College Bound Scholarship application if your parent or guardian cannot be reached after multiple attempts. Talk to your school counselor or principal for more information.

Questions? Contact College Bound program staff at collegebound@wsac.wa.gov or 1-888-535-0747, option 1.

Other financial aid

Find out about state and federal aid programs

In addition to the Passport to Careers program, look into the following state financial aid programs:

  • Washington College Grant can be used at Washington’s eligible colleges. The grant amounts vary by the type of college you attend.
  • College Bound Scholarship combines with other state aid like the Washington College Grant to pay for tuition at public college rates, some fees, and a small book allowance.
  • State Work Study provides an approved job either on campus or off-campus so students can increase their earnings and build skills and reduce reliance on student loans. Students are paid a competitive hourly wage.
  • Opportunity Scholarship that helps eligible students attain a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineer, math and health care through scholarships of up to $22,500.

Federal financial aid could include any of the following types of aid:

  • Grants are financial aid that doesn't have to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund.) The largest federal grant program is the Pell Grant, which has a current maximum award of $6,095 for the year. Pell Grants can be used to pay for tuition, fees, and living expenses.
  • Federal Work Study is a work program through which you earn money to help you pay for school.
  • Loans are borrowed money for college or career school; you must repay your loans, with interest.

Completing your application

File a FAFSA or WASFA financial aid application

Determine if you should complete the FAFSA or WASFA financial aid application, which is critical to receiving many types of financial aid.

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) can be completed by U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens. File the FAFSA at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov (be sure to use this .gov website that is free). This one application will be used to determine your eligibility for many federal and state government financial aid programs that help with college and apprenticeship costs and living expenses.

If you are not eligible to file the FAFSA due to immigration status, Washington State may help you. The WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid) is a free application for state financial aid for students who are not eligible for federal aid because of immigration status, including undocumented students. To see if the WASFA is the correct application for you, answer the questions on the WASFA application site. After you complete the WASFA, the college(s) you choose will use your information to determine your state financial aid eligibility.

Foster youth

Be sure to answer yes to the question on your application that asks you about your foster care status. The FAFSA has specific questions for you to answer as an independent student in these circumstances.

Look for a question like this on the FAFSA/WASFA: At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?

If you are unsure if you were in foster care, contact your Foster Care Liaison to find out. Ask them to fill out a “Dependent/Ward of the Court Verification Letter." Be sure to print and keep several copies, and keep an electronic copy if possible. Your college may ask you for it.

Unaccompanied homeless youth

If you were determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, you can claim yourself as an independent student on the FAFSA or WASFA.

Look for a question like this on the FAFSA/WASFA: Any time on or after July 1, 2018, were you determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, as determined by (a) your high school or district homeless liaison, (b) the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or (c) the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program?

In order to answer yes you must have a determination by (a) your high school or district homeless liaison, (b) the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or (c) the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program?

If you do not have a determination that you are homeless, but you believe you are an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, answer “No” to the FAFSA questions concerning being homeless. Then contact your college’s financial aid office to explain your situation.

More tips for completing the FAFSA
  • When the FAFSA asks you how many people are in your household, remember this: if you are considered independent (for example, because you are in foster care) and have no children or spouse of your own, you are a family of one (yourself).
  • Are you in Extended Foster Care? The payments that you receive for being in Extended Foster Care DO NOT need to be included as income on your FAFSA.
  • Be sure to list the schools you are interested in attending on your FAFSA. You can include up to ten schools. These eligible colleges in Washington can accept your Passport to Careers financial aid and other Washington State financial aid such as the Washington College Grant. If you attend a college that is not on this list, your financial aid could be significantly lower. Compare costs carefully.

If you have questions about the WASFA or need help applying, contact program staff at wasfa@wsac.wa.gov or 1-888-535-0747, option 2.

How to get started

Review the Paying for College or Apprenticeships page for step-by-step instructions to get organized and maximize financial aid.