Confronting Equity Gaps Through Postsecondary Counseling Grants

This blog series spotlights the ten policy recommendations from our latest Making the Case Report: A Policy Blueprint to Increase Financial Aid Uptake. Each week, we’ll focus on a key strategy designed to increase FAFSA/WASFA completion and financial aid attainment.

While we explore these specific policy recommendations, our team will continue to track and report on the broader legislative landscape. We’ll keep you updated on bills related to student-centered policies throughout the 60-day session. For a real-time update of relevant bills, please visit our 2024 bill tracker.

High schools play an incredibly pivotal role in guiding students toward obtaining essential financial aid for their postsecondary education. Recognizing this, Washington took a significant step by creating Financial Aid Advising Day through the passage of ESSB 6141 in the 2020 Legislative session. These events, offering hands-on assistance and guidance, have become crucial in ensuring students meet financial aid deadlines and complete application forms on time. A proposed School Counselor competitive grant program would build on this success, offering transitional support towards sustainable, long-term enhancements in counseling services. Lowering student-to-counselor ratios is vital in improving financial aid attainment rates and fostering better-prepared students who actively pursue and continue into postsecondary education.

Policy Recommendation #6

Create a competitive grant program for school districts to invest in new postsecondary counseling and advising positions.

High schools have an important role to play in ensuring that students take the necessary steps to obtain financial aid. Schools can help to educate students and their parents about college affordability and the availability of financial aid, a fact recognized by lawmakers and evinced by the creation of Financial Aid Advising Day through the passage of ESSB 6141 in the 2020 Legislative session. Financial Aid Advising Days, and similar events across the state, provide important venues for one-on-one hands-on assistance in meeting financial aid deadlines and completing application forms.

Washington should build off of the creation of Financial Aid Advising Day and make new and robust investments in effective school-based counseling services to build and support students’ postsecondary education aspirations. A School Counselor competitive grant program could award funding to school districts that would be adequate to increase the availability of effective school-based counseling services for students. Grant funds should be intended to be transitional towards more sustainable long term general funds to increase the level of sustainable school counseling services. Lower student to counselor ratios are necessary to improve rates of financial aid attainment, and ultimately increase the percentage of students who appropriately prepare for, apply to, and continue into postsecondary education.


The state of Colorado has established the School Counselor Corps Grant Program (SCCGP). The SCCGP receives an annual appropriation of $12 million from the General Assembly. This funding supports approximately 160-180 schools across the state per year. Elementary, middle, and high schools are eligible recipients. In general, SCCGP funded high schools have higher than state average FAFSA completion rates compared to schools not funded by the grant program.