Commentary: Now’s the Time to Pursue Financial Aid for College


Washington state’s two-year colleges consistently rank as some of the best in the country for graduation rates, student success and affordability.

Centralia College is certainly proud of those things. However, there’s one ranking that has Washington state educators cringing.

Washington state is ranked 44th worst in the country for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion.

It’s the one application students need to access federal grants and work study programs, and determine eligibility for state programs and some scholarships. When students don’t fill it out, they are not claiming the financial aid they deserve. This is real money that is not going to Washington students.

In 2021, only 19.6 percent of Washington state high school seniors completed a FAFSA. For comparison, Oregon is ranked 30th with 23.4 percent. Illinois currently has the highest ranking with 39.3 percent of high school seniors completing a FAFSA. (Read the rankings online at

I bring this up now only because FAFSA season is here.

The 2022-23 applications opened in October and now is the perfect time to complete the FAFSA online and claim your share of federal financial aid. The earlier you apply, the more money you’ll likely receive.

We advise all Centralia College students to apply by March 1 for maximum funding. That’s a solid deadline no matter where you or your graduate is planning to be in September.

The FAFSA is submitted online at It now includes an online tool that pulls your IRS tax information (if you filed taxes in 2020) directly into the FAFSA, saving a ton of time and extra steps. For undocumented students who are Washington state residents, you can submit a WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid) online to apply for state financial aid. The WASFA is available at

In addition to federal and state aid, Centralia College works hard to ensure education is affordable for everyone. We keep our tuition as low as possible to ensure students have access to the education they need. We offer payment plans to help students pay tuition in smaller, more manageable chunks.

For 2021-22 alone, $462,250 in Centralia College Foundation scholarships were awarded to 223 students. And, we offer emergency grants for students facing one-time, unanticipated financial distress.

Our financial aid staff work with each student to ensure they are getting the maximum amount of financial aid available to them.

So, in this FAFSA/WASFA season, we encourage anyone who is considering college in 2022 to complete their application as soon as possible. If you need help with the application, we can help.

Contact CC’s financial aid office at 360-623-8975 or


Bob Mohrbacher is the president of Centralia College.