Division of HumanitiesMFA in Creative Writing - Low Residency

Rainier Writing Workshop


"I can't say enough good about the program.  It's been a great light in my life."

At PLU our goal is to create a partnership that is financially feasible for you to pursue your studies. Financial assistance from PLU, federal and state financial aid programs, outside scholarships, payment options and careful planning help make PLU affordable. Below is a listing of financial aid resources available to you at PLU.

PLU Graduate Scholarships

The Linda Bierds and Carol Houck Smith Graduate Scholarships

Each year Pacific Lutheran University awards scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 to new applicants in the Rainier Writing Workshop. The number and amount of the scholarships vary depending on the qualifications of the candidates. The Linda Bierds scholarship is named for a distinguished poet residing in the Pacific Northwest who has taught for many years in the Rainier Writing Workshop. The Carol Houck Smith scholarship is established in memory of a longtime friend of literature and senior editor at W. W. Norton.

The scholarships are awarded for one year, and renewed for two consecutive years by A) maintaining consecutive enrollment for three years and B) successfully completing the requirements for each year.

All students applying to the MFA program may be considered for these scholarships. A scholarship application is required, and you may download the application by clicking here: The Rainier Writing Workshop, Linda Bierds and Carol Houck Smith Graduate Scholarships


The Jack Cady Promise Scholarship

The Jack Cady Promise Scholarship is named in honor of the award-winning writer and emeritus PLU Professor, and offers assistance to one incoming student of working class background and demonstrated financial need.  No separate application is necessary to be considered for this award.   Program applications and materials will be used to determine the recipient.

PLU Graduate Fellowships

The graduate fellowship program offers MFA students an opportunity to participate in academic and administrative activities that will enhance their graduate education experience, as well as provide financial assistance. A limited number of fellowships are available during the academic year.  Full awards are very rare. In general, involve time commitments of five to fifteen hours per week. Admitted students will be sent a fellowship application in their acceptance packet.

PLU Alumni Tuition Discount

The PLU Grant provides a 10 percent discount on tuition for PLU graduates who enroll in a PLU master's level degree or approved master’s level certificate program.  Restrictions apply to those students who are also PLU employees. The discount begins immediately upon admission.

PLU International Graduate Student Scholarships

Full-time international graduate students can be eligible for between $4,000 and $7,500 in scholarship, renewable for the duration of the graduate program. To find out more, click HERE:  PLU International Graduate Scholarships.

The Yellow Ribbon Program at PLU

Pacific Lutheran University is proud to partner with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to offer a total of 200 full-tuition, Yellow Ribbon Scholarships to qualified veterans or their dependents. PLU has rich history of working closely with the military community and is excited to provide greater access to private higher education through this important program.

The Yellow Ribbon G.I. Educational Enhancement Program is component of the Post-9/11 Act of 2008. This partnership between the VA and PLU offers qualified veterans or their dependents full-tuition scholarships to enter either undergraduate or graduate programs at PLU. In the coming 2012-2013 academic year, PLU will offer 150 Yellow Ribbon Scholarships to undergraduate students and 50 scholarships for graduate students.

To find out more, click HERE:  Yellow Ribbon G.I.Educational Enhancement Program.

Federal Financial Aid

With more than $60 billion earmarked for student loans, the federal government is committed to helping you attend graduate school.  It all begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


To apply for federal and state financial aid, students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). An analysis of your FAFSA determines how much you and your family can afford to contribute to your education. A variety of factors are taken into account: family income, total savings, family size, parents' age (and their need to save for retirement) and the number of siblings in college at the same time.

How to submit a FAFSA

You may submit the FAFSA in one of two ways:

  • Complete the FAFSA on the Web at www.fafsa.ed.gov. You will be provided a confirmation number and an opportunity to create your own Personal Identification Number (PIN) which you can use immediately to sign your application. This is the recommended and most accurate way to complete the FAFSA.
  • Request a paper FAFSA from the US Department of Education at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). Complete and mail the FAFSA using the envelope included with the form. This processing takes approximately two to four weeks. 

When completing the FAFSA, be sure to indicate that you want the results of your analysis sent to PLU (use code 003785).   Keep copies of everything you submit.

Which application to use

To receive financial assistance for enrollment in the summer or fall of 2013 or spring semester 2014 the 2013-14 FAFSA must be completed. The 2014-15 FAFSA is required when applying for financial assistance for summer or fall of 2014 or spring semester 2014.  The 2013-14 FAFSA will not be available until January 1, 2013.

  1. Apply for the Federal Application for Free Student Aid (FAFSA) School Code 003785
  2. If you do not have federal PIN, Apply for a PIN - your federal signature

The information from your FAFSA application will be electronically sent to PLU's Office of Financial Aid. They will work with your Student Services Center Counselor to send you your Offer of Financial Aid

Direct Stafford Loans

Direct Stafford Loans, from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, are low-interest loans for eligible students to help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade, career, or technical school. Eligible students borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) at participating schools.

Direct Stafford Loans include the following types of loans:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans-Direct Subsidized Loans are for students with financial need. Your school will review the results of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and determine the amount you can borrow. You are not charged interest while you're in school at least half-time and during grace periods and deferment periods.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans-You are not required to demonstrate financial need to receive a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Like subsidized loans, your school will determine the amount you can borrow. Interest accrues (accumulates) on an unsubsidized loan from the time it's first paid out. You can pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, or you can allow it to accrue and be capitalized (that is, added to the principal amount of your loan). If you choose not to pay the interest as it accrues, this will increase the total amount you have to repay because you will be charged interest on a higher principal amount.

To find out more, visit: http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/index.jsp

Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Degree Students

Graduate and professional degree students can borrow a Direct PLUS Loan to help cover education expenses.

  • The terms and conditions applicable to PLUS Loans for parents also apply to PLUS Loans for graduate and professional students. These terms and conditions include: a determination that you (the applicant) do not have an adverse credit history; and
  • a fixed interest rate of 7.9% for Direct PLUS Loans.

Unlike parent PLUS applicants, you (the student applicant) are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition, before you can receive a PLUS Loan, your school must have determined your maximum eligibility for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

Additional loan types provided under the Direct Loan Program, include Direct Stafford Loans (for undergraduate and graduate students), Direct PLUS Loans (for parents), and Direct Consolidation Loans (to combine federal education loan debts into a single loan).

To find out more, visit: http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/index.jsp

Outside Scholarships

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Arts Award

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has an ongoing commitment to support graduate students making extraordinary contributions to their fields of study and recognizes the importance of providing assistance to those striving for excellence. We are proud to announce two new graduate funding opportunities: the Graduate Arts Award and the Jack Kent Cooke Dissertation Fellowship.

The Foundation's new Graduate Arts Award is for up to $50,000 per year for up to three years to college seniors and recent graduates with significant financial need who will pursue a graduate or professional degree in the visual arts, performing arts, or creative writing. To be eligible, candidates must be nominated by the faculty representative at their undergraduate institution.

To find out more, visit: http://www.jkcf.org/scholarships/graduate-scholarships/.

For questions about scholarships, fellowships, or financial aid, you may contact:

Rachel Christopherson

Director of Graduate Admission

Pacific Lutheran University

phone: 253-535-8570 or 800-274-6758


Patty Sunderland
Student Services Coordinator

Pacific Lutheran University

phone: 253-535-8029 or 800-678-3243