There are thousands of colleges in the US, but if you look at a map of colleges in the US, you’ll immediately notice something: there are relatively few on the West Coast! Once you hit the Midwest, however you will start running into another college every 50 miles all the way to the Eastern seaboard.
Scholarships are partly a function of supply and demand. On the West Coast there are a lot of students competing for a few colleges, and most of the students you’re competing with are also from the West Coast. By heading east you have two things going for you: #1 there are a lot more colleges competing for students, and #2 you’re a minority!
Colleges love diversity, and one of the types they want is geographic diversity. They love to have students from all over the US as it enriches the experience for everyone. When you’re applying to private schools in the Midwest or East Coast you’ll be one of the few from the state of Washington and you’ll have an edge over applicants who live relatively close to the college in question.
If you’re an ethnic minority too, traveling east can also work to your advantage. Students from the Pacific Islands, Japan, China, Korea, etc are more common on the West Coast than the Midwest or East Coast. By being willing to go east, where your particular ethnicity is less prevalent, you will increase the odds of getting a scholarship.
Crystal Anderson is the president of Crystal Clear College Planning, which helps Seattle-area families plan financially and academically for college. Learn more about our free local workshops on planning for college.