Staying in Western Washington for College?


Washington State Colleges

Brookelle Barnes, Editor/Reporter

If you want to stay in-state for college, you may seek the benefits of lower cost of travel, tuition, and other financial supports provided by the state. If you’re like me and love the cool western Washington weather… you may be considering staying on this side of the state for college! Here’s some 4-year Universities on the western side of Washington that you may like!

Make sure to remember that some schools can make accommodations for certain GPA, SAT, and ACT scores as well as financial support from person to person, don’t immediately shy away from application. All the statistics shared are basic knowledge, feel free and make sure to do your own research with all the school websites listed below!

Western Washington University: Bellingham

Western Washington University is known for being a top producer of prestigious National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hollings Scholars, Fulbright Scholars, and Peace Corps volunteers, and nationally ranked for graduates who earn research doctorates. Offering more than 200 academic programs, Western Washington University has about a 96% acceptance rate and 68% graduation rate as of 2021 and requires the state standard cumulative of a 2.0 GPA, as well as either an SAT score between 1090 and 1310 or an ACT score between 22 and 29. This school offers in and off-campus living and a very beautiful PNW view overlooking Bellingham Bay. The average annual in-state cost after aid is about $17,000.

Seattle University: Seattle

Seattle University a private Jesuit university and is the largest independent university in the Northwestern United States. Seattle University has received specialized recognition for its Business, Education, Engineering, Nursing academic programs and for its work in career development, equity and inclusion and support for veterans. With an acceptance rate of 82% and a graduation rate of 74%, Seattle U recommends that students have a SAT score between 1120 and 1330 or an ACT score between 24 and 31. The average annual in-state cost after aid is about $19,000. Seattle provides a diverse community of people and a “city-life” experience for anyone who chooses to go, although, city life living can be pricey.

Seattle Pacific University: Seattle

Seattle Pacific University is a private Christian University that is a national College of Distinction, chosen for academic excellence, innovation, student development, and career preparation. SPU has a strong Business program with special focus on ethics and integrity in business, and also has a great Pre-Med program, with an impressive percentage of students who get into med school. Seattle Pacific has a 90% acceptance rate as well as a 67% graduation rate. With the average GPA of 3.51 at SPU, Seattle Pacific prefers you to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher when applying. With SAT scores preferred to range around 1080-1290, luckily, there is no required ACT score needed for entry (24 and above is average for the school though). The average annual in-state cost after aid is about $27,000. Similar to Seattle University, SPU offers the city experience for those who enjoy the busy life.

The Evergreen State College: Olympia

The Evergreen State College is a public liberal arts college that has earned a national reputation for innovative teaching, academic excellence, environmental leadership, exceptional value, a welcoming campus culture, and more. With a high acceptance rate of 99% and a graduation rate of 70%, Evergreen requires a minimum GPA of 2.0. Evergreen is also known for having one of the best undergraduate programs in which students have the option to design their own study towards a degree or follow a pre-determined path of study. The average annual in-state cost after aid is about $14,000. This school is definitely on the more quiet side, tucked away in the trees with a small-town/community feel. Olympia is not only the capitol of Washington, but is also in decent reach of other major cities and locations such as Seattle and Portland.

University of Puget Sound: Tacoma

The University of Puget Sound is a private liberal arts university, with an acceptance rate of 88% and a graduation rate of 76%, UPS requires students to be around an average GPA of 3.0-3.5 throughout your whole high school career. With an average SAT score of 1237 and ACT score of 28, UPS is on the more difficult side in terms of courses and overall class difficulties. The average annual in-state cost after aid is about $34,000. People are drawn to Tacoma for many geographical reasons, but it is what I would consider the middle of Seattle and Olympia combined. It’s easy to get away from the busy parts of downtown Tacoma and escape to the mountain views easily.

University of Washington: Seattle 

University of Washington is a 10th best global ranked public research university that is one of the oldest on the West Coast. With the low acceptance rate of 53% and a graduation rate of 83%, UW is a very competitive GPA based school, UW requires you to be near or at the top of your class, with an average of about a 3.8 GPA… you may have a hard time getting into UW. UW does offer full-ride scholarships to lots of athletes throughout the state (UW loves sports!). UW is home to a renowned medical center and top-ranked programs in medicine, engineering, nursing, law, business and social work as well. The average annual in-state cost after aid is about $12,000. People love UW for the community factor, the beautiful campus draws in people from all over the world.

Pacific Lutheran University: Parkland

Pacific Lutheran University is a private Lutheran school. With an acceptance rate of 88% and a graduation rate of 67%, PLU is known for its commitment to diversity, justice and sustainability. For its record on sustainability, the university was recognized with a Gold Award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The average GPA at PLU is about a 3.71 and they prefer if you have a 1170 SAT score or above. Some of the most popular majors at PLU are Health Professions and Related Programs; Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services; Social Sciences; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Education, etc. Parkland offers some of the cheapest homes locally and provides a nice general location between Lakewood and Puyallup. The average annual in-state cost after aid is about $23,000.

Bastyr University: Kenmore

Bastyr University is a private alternative medicine university that specializes in natural health arts and sciences. With campuses in Kenmore, Washington, and San Diego, California, their programs include naturopathy, acupuncture, Traditional Asian medicine, nutrition, herbal medicine, ayurvedic medicine, psychology, and midwifery. Bastyr does not require any SAT or ACT scores for application, but the school is known for being exceptionally difficult to get into sheerly based on the difficulty medical courses they offer. Bastyr is one of few institutions that do not offer acceptance analytics, but 90% of students who get in do graduate. The average annual in-state cost after aid is nearly $40,000. The Kenmore location is a suburb to Seattle, Kenmore is ranked one of the best places to live in Washington as it provides a dense suburban feel that is affordable for most.

University of Washington Bothell: Bothell 

The University of Washington Bothell is a branch campus of University of Washington. University of Washington Bothell is a shared campus with Cascadia College. UW Bothell is known for providing a student experience grounded in close relationships with faculty as researchers, teachers and mentors — and the personalized support of staff who are dedicated to student success. With an acceptance rate of 83% and a graduation rate of 85, UW Bothell has an average annual in-state cost after aid of about $12,000. The only difference between UW and UW Bothell is the size of the Bothell campus is significantly smaller, along with the location of course. Bothell is a cute location to live in, although a little pricey, Bothell offers similar suburban feel to Kenmore.

Northwest College of Art and Design: Tacoma

Northwest College of Art & Design is a private for-profit college that focuses on the visual arts. With an acceptance rate of 84%, NCAD fosters the development of intellectual and creative talent of a diverse group of students. The average GPA is about 3.15 and the average in-state cost after aid is about $14,000. The city of Tacoma offers multiple Universities, this makes the location very populated. Tacoma is a great center location for people who enjoy a smaller city life than offered in Seattle.

Northwest University: Kirkland

Northwest University is a Christian University. Northwest is known for its focus on interdisciplinary education, extensive research output, and collaborative student culture. The most popular studies at Northwest are Social Sciences, Communiation/Journalism, and Engineering. With an acceptance rate of 96%, average in-state cost after aid is about $35,000. The average GPA is a 3.41, and taking the SAT or ACT is a requirement. The average SAT score is 1117 and ACT is 22. With Kirkland being another suburb of Seattle, Kirkland offers affordable waterfront lifestyles for anyone there.

Cornish College of the Arts: Seattle

Cornish College of the Arts is a private institution that mainly has students participating in the programs of Drama/Theatre Arts and Stagecraft, Design and Applied Arts as well as Dance. Cornish gives students an urban campus in Seattle, a perfect art school that empowers artists, citizens, and innovators. The acceptance rate of Cornish is 79% and the graduation rate is 51%. The average in-state annual cost after aid is around $52,000. This is the most expensive school to be covered. This school is particularly for students who plan on being in the Arts and nothing else. Seattle offers lots of diversity for people to enjoy the populated city. If city life is for you, Seattle is well worth your consideration.

University of Washington Tacoma: Tacoma

University of Washington Tacoma is an urban-serving university community in the heart of downtown Tacoma, closely linked with the South Puget Sound area. Similar to University of Washington and University of Washington Bothell, University of Washington Tacoma is simply just a branch campus to expand UW’s reign. With an acceptance and graduation rate of both 83%, the average annual in-state cost after aid is about $10,000, which is the cheapest of all the schools covered. Both University of Washington Bothell and Tacoma are significantly easier to get into that University of Washington in Seattle. The Tacoma area offers lots of sights and opportunities for its community, making it a top location for students who choose to live, work, and complete schooling at.

Saint Martin’s University: Lacey

Saint Martin’s University is a private Benedictine Catholic school that prepares students for successful lives through its undergraduate and graduate programs and certificate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, engineering, nursing and leadership. The acceptance rate is 72% and the graduation rate is 63%. Saint Matin prides themselves on their diversity, innovation, and sustainability as a common practice through their traditional Catholic beliefs. The average annual in-state cost after aid is about $23,000. The city of Lacey is located just North-East of Olympia and housing prices are not incredibly expensive, Lacey offers a suburban feel similar to Kenmore.


When choosing a college, make sure you research what possible majors you may want as well as cost, living situation, location, etc. Don’t forget, it’s okay to not go to college! There are so many options outside of university that will support your wishes (community college, trade school, military, business owner, gap years, etc.) This article is strictly informational for those who are considering a 4-year college! There are many benefits to staying in-state for college, but making sure you are fulfilling what you want to do is most important.