How to Pay for College in the Pacific Northwest

Whether you want to save money for college in 18 years or get together last-minute funds for college next year, there are several things you can do right now to smooth your path to higher education.

College Savings Tactics in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho

Select a Scholarship-Accredited University

It can be overwhelming to choose from the list of thousands of universities. Cut down on the list by focusing on schools accredited by scholarships you are interested in. For example, the Trinity Scholars Program recognizes a select few Christian universities. The schools vary in price and focus but each is selected because it has something valuable to offer. Examine the different philosophies of Christian universities in the Northwest.

Work Part-Time While Living at Home

If you have the option of working part-time and setting money aside while living as a dependent, this opportunity is too good to go to waste. A part-time minimum wage job can generate between $400 and $1,000 per month. If this money can be invested or set aside, it can lower the stress of college loans dramatically.

Practice Saving Money

It may not seem important, but the restraint required to put away money is sometimes more important than the ability to earn it. Once in college, students are surrounded by temptations to splurge. Many are on their own for the first time with student loan allowances burning a hole in their pockets. Students and parents alike must help to prepare for this time.

As a parent, you may talk to your child about saving money for something they really want. Rather than spend their money right away, they might set their sights on a big purchase. As a student, you might challenge yourself to save your own money in the bank and leave it alone as it grows. This practice of restraint will benefit you for the rest of your life.

Start a 529 Plan

An 529 is a college savings account (though it can also be used for other educational expenses) with no taxable interest. Deposits into a 529 account are often tax-deductible. While plans and benefits vary by bank, it is generally recommended to use the official 529 plan of your home state in order to enjoy full tax benefits.


A state-sponsored GET (Guaranteed Education Tuition) plan is guaranteed to keep pace with the cost inflation of the most expensive public school in Washington State. This means your investment is not harmed by inflation. While an account must be initiated in Washington, the funds can be used for any college or technical school in the United States, and by any immediate relative of the initial recipient.


An Oregon College Savings Plan is an investment account with tax-free interest. It is recommended to begin with a moderate-risk, high-gain investment before slowing down and enjoying a low-risk, low-gain option. Investors can plan ahead by estimating the recipient’s college start date, and the company takes care of the rest. All US legal residents qualify, but Oregon residents enjoy tax-deductible deposits.


Achieve Montana is the official state 529 plan. Investors may choose anywhere between high-risk, high-yield and low-risk, low-yield stocks. An age-based plan is recommended: starting with stocks and slowly working into fixed income. The beneficiary can be changed to anyone in the immediate family.


The IDeal Idaho College Savings Program provides 3 investment options: a plan that becomes more conservative over time, a fixed-asset portfolio that retains the same tactics, and a low-risk, FDIC-insured savings portfolio.

It is easy to look up ways of saving money for college; the hard part is taking action. Before you close this article, make a plan for the next step you’ll take in funding your higher education.