Early Learning Equity Scholarship

We are excited to share the newly launched Early Learning Equity (ELE) Scholarship, made possible by an extremely generous gift from the Ballmer Group. The mission of this scholarship is to strengthen, increase, retain and diversify Washington state’s early learning education workforce by removing financial barriers to degree programs.

This 2-year scholarship supports newly enrolled Early Care & Education and Early Childhood & Family Studies - Teaching and Learning students, or those returning after 1 or more years away from UW. It covers a student’s unmet financial need, including the cost of attendance for Washington state residents. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to entering or remaining in the early education field after graduating.

This scholarship is open for all to apply, and we highly encourage students who identify as First Generation, BIPOC*, especially Black/African American, Native American/American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and/or Hispanic/Latino to apply for this scholarship.

*BIPOC: An acronym used to refer to Black, Indigenous and People of Color. It is based on the recognition of collective experiences of systemic racism. As with any other identity term, it is up to individuals to use this term as an identifier.

Award amount

The scholarship amount is dependent on a student’s calculated unmet financial need. Unmet financial need is calculated by the Office of Student Financial Aid, using your WASFA or FAFSA, and other sources of financial assistance you have available to help pay for your education, which may include private scholarships, UW departmental scholarships, and government grants/scholarships. 

These are some factors that may impact your total scholarship amount:

  • Additional or loss of government, UW, or some private scholarships or grants
  • Significant changes to your financial aid package, which may increase or decrease your award amount
  • Not meeting satisfactory academic progress, leading to a loss of financial aid
  • Student changes from full-time to part-time or vice versa
  • Student withdraws from the university
  • Studying abroad or double majoring (applies to ECFS only)


In order to be considered for the scholarship, you must meet the following requirements:

Additional considerations:

  • Identifies as a member of an underrepresented group, such as underrepresented minority* students or First-Generation

DACA recipients and other undocumented Washington residents must submit a WASFA application to be eligible for state financial aid, including the ELE Scholarship.

*URM = Federally recognized underrepresented minority populations (Black/African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Latino/Hispanic) 
^The CoE also serves Filipino and Southeast Asian student populations


Application deadline timeline image

The application deadlines for the ELE scholarship will depend on the quarter you intend on enrolling in your program.

Starting Autumn quarter:

  • Application open March 1 - May 15
  • If funding available, final deadline is August 15

Starting Winter quarter:

  • Application open September 1 - November 15

Spring 2024 will be the last Spring ELE scholarship awards will be awarded until further notice. 

Application process

  1. Apply for and be accepted to the ECE or ECFS program
    1. Note: you do not need to have received a decision letter at the time you submit the ELE scholarship application. The award is contingent upon being accepted into the program.
  2. Ensure your FAFSA or WASFA is submitted for the correct academic year
    1. We recommend submitting by UW’s priority deadline, January 15 for the next academic year to ensure your paperwork is processed in a timely manner. (NOTE: UW has extended their priority FAFSA/WASFA submission to February 28, 2024 for the 2024-2025 academic year. See the announcement here.) 
  3. Login into CommunityForce with your UW NetID and complete the application.

Apply for ELE

Selection process

Step 1: Application screening

Applications are screened to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria.

Step 2: Application review

Our selection team reviews applications and score them using a comprehensive rubric. The selection team consists of staff and faculty familiar with the ECE and ECFS programs.

Step 3: Reward determination

Recipient amounts are determined by student's unmet financial need, which is calculated by the Office of Student Financial Aid.

Step 4: Decision letter

Applicants receive decision letters prior to the start of the quarter. If selected, you MUST reply to notify us whether you accept or reject the award.


Although we do our best to process applications and send decision letters to applicants as quickly as possible, sometimes unforeseen circumstances may delay the process (i.e. staffing issues, systems being overwhelmed, etc.). We understand that scholarships and financial aid are critical factors in a student’s educational success and wellbeing. We aim to distribute letters to applicants prior to the start of the quarter and will communicate as immediately as possible of any issues we may come across that impact this timeline.

If you have questions about the scholarship, please reach out to edscholar@uw.edu or your program advisor. 

The Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships, & Awards team has advisors that coach students on submitting strong applications and interview preparation for local, national and international scholarships, grants or fellowships you may be considering.