Ideally, start searching is a year before you will need the funds
It is always worth searching, even if you begin later than the ideal time
These are trends for deadlines, but there are some opportunities during other times of the year.
Scholarships, Fellowships, and Grants
October - March
January - April
Assistantships: Part-time jobs for graduate students in any department, research center, or branch of the university. Include teaching, research, and graduate staff assistantships. Some include salary, tuition waiver, and health insurance. Tuition waivers usually require full-time enrollment (10+ credit hours per quarter in autumn, winter, and spring; 2+ credit hours in summer quarter).
Scholarships, fellowships, and grants: Money that does not have to be paid back. These are interchangeable terms. Slight differences in use, but no clear and consistent rule.
Master's or professional degree students may find that funding searches will include many resources for PhD students. If possible, add "Master's" to your search terms, or look for opportunities which cover one year or less. See the Funding Databases page for additional tips on crafting funding searches.
PhD students may be searching for funding for the early stages of the program (pre-candidacy) or dissertation support (proposal development, research, writing). Look out for these terms:
Predoctoral - Funding to support educational costs at the beginning stages of a PhD program. Pre-candidacy and pre-dissertation.
Dissertation Fellowship/Scholarship - There are awards which cover only the research or writing stage of the dissertation, and some may cover any stage of that process.
There are several fee-based programs at UW, and you can check to see if your program is fee-based by asking your department or checking this list of of fee-based programs from the UW Registrar. Learn more about how fee-based status might affect you by reading this fee-based programs FAQ.