Students who earn a community-college degree through the tuition-free Seattle Promise program could be eligible to save 50 percent off the cost of tuition at Seattle Pacific University.

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Seattle Pacific University, a private Christian school in north Queen Anne, is offering a tuition break to students who transfer into the university after earning a community-college degree through Seattle’s new, tuition-free community-college program.

Beginning in autumn 2020, SPU will give transfer students who earned a two-year degree at one of three community colleges (North, Central and South) in the Seattle Promise program at least 50 percent off tuition, in the form of scholarships and grants that do not need to be paid back. Students will also get a direct pathway into most SPU majors, and will have mentorship, internship and advising opportunities. To qualify, students must be admitted into SPU, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and file federal or state financial-aid forms each year.

Seattle Promise was created when voters overwhelmingly approved the seven-year Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Program levy in November. It expands an existing tuition-free community-college program to all students who graduate from Seattle’s public high schools, regardless of how much their families makes. The program is phasing in over two years, so not all public high schools are immediately covered. (For more information about what you can study at a Seattle community college, go to

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SPU says it’s the first university to announce a direct pathway for Seattle Promise students into a four-year university. University President Dan Martin said the school is committed to helping community-college students complete a four-year degree. “Transfer students comprise an important part of our campus, and we work hard to help them complete their degree at Seattle Pacific,” he said in a statement.

Tuition at SPU this year is $42,480. Price-wise, SPU is a little less expensive than the city’s other major private university, Seattle University, but it’s considerably higher than the University of Washington, which this year charges $11,207 in tuition. (Those numbers don’t include living expenses, books and some fees, which add up.)

Those so-called sticker prices don’t take financial aid into account; many low-income students qualify for financial-aid packages, and top scholars can also earn merit scholarships. For example, nearly 30 percent of in-state undergraduates at the UW pay no tuition and fees through a program called Husky Promise, which leverages state, federal and institutional aid for students whose families meet the income guidelines.

One tool that can help you estimate how much a specific college will cost, based on your family’s income, is the net price calculator, a tool that all universities and colleges provide to help prospective students figure out how much financial aid they could receive. The federal Education Department’s lookup tool,, can help you find the calculator for any school in the country.