Financial Aid & Scholarships

At North Cascades Institute, we recognize the financial burden that our students take on in order to enroll in our graduate program. Financial aid for graduate students includes federal student loans, scholarships and Western Washington University work study. We have years of experience with helping graduate students navigate through the financial aid process as well as other funding options. Please reach out to our Graduate Program Staff if you have any questions and so that we can begin a dialogue on making this graduate experience affordable for you.

Financial Aid & Work Study

Students are eligible for educational loans through Western Washington University. Federal financial aid applications (FAFSA) and information is available from Financial Aid Department, priority deadline is January 31. Be sure to mark work-study on the application if you are interested.

In addition to loans, most students are eligible for work study through Western Washington University, a federal program. Positions pay $18/hour for up to 156 hours/quarter. Graduate students work alongside North Cascades Institute staff and gain exposure to nonprofit operations and program development. In these positions, graduates receive invaluable coaching and professional skills.  

Institute Scholarships

North Cascades Institute is proud to offer scholarships to support graduate students in the residency portion of the program. These scholarship awards are made possible by the generosity of our donors and were created to attract and reward strong applicants who:

  • Document economic need
  • Have the potential to make unique or valuable contributions to the cohort and the larger community at the Environmental Learning Center, and/or
  • Increase the diversity of our community of professionals

Scholarship amounts range from $500-$2,500, with the average individual scholarship amount of $1,000-$1,500 for applicants in the financial need, merit, skills, and/or service categories. Larger scholarship awards are available to students from historically underrepresented identities in environmental education. 

Institute scholarships are separate from and may be offered in addition to Federal Financial Student Aid awards or WWU scholarships. North Cascades Institute’s awards are applied to the residency fee.

To Apply

Please submit your scholarship application to North Cascades Institute by February 1st. All Institute scholarships are applied to the residency tuition and fees and cannot be applied to WWU tuition. If you are applying after the priority deadline, please inquire at 

To apply, submit the scholarship application questions below along with a short essay (1-2 pages) or multimedia response to

Part 1: Financial Need Information

1. Please describe how you plan to finance your graduate education.

2. Do you currently have outstanding student loans? If so, how much and what is the timeline for repayment?

3. Please provide a specific estimate of the funding you will need in order to participate in this program.

Part 2: Skills, Service and Community Essay or Multimedia Response

Please attach a short 1-2 page essay or multimedia response (audio/visual, website or other creative presentation) describing the skills and experience you will bring to the graduate residency portion of the program and how you see yourself contributing to the community at North Cascades Institute. If you are applying as a student from a historically underrepresented identityalso address the ways your background and interests will contribute to the diversity of our professional community.

We suggest that you investigate other scholarships and financial aid opportunities available through foundations, government grants, community groups, professional organizations, financial institutions and other sources.