Town hall on financial aid includes information on scholarships, hardship funds, student employment

Members of Grand Valley's Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships outlined various forms of financial aid during a virtual town hall July 29 for first-year students and their supporters. 

A photo of financial aid staff members on Zoom.
Members of Grand Valley's Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships answered questions about scholarships, loans, grants, hardship funds and student employment.
Image Credit: Elizabeth Lienau

Students were encouraged to check their myBanner accounts to choose whether to accept loans and grants that have been offered. 

Ben Rhodes, assistant director of Financial Aid, said students will see two types of loans: student loans (subsidized and unsubsidized) and the federal Parent PLUS loan. Parents or step-parents of undergraduate dependent students can choose to utilize the Parent PLUS loan to pay educational expenses not already covered by other financial aid. 

The current interest rate for student loans is a fixed rate of 2.75; the interest rate for a Parent PLUS loan is a fixed rate of 5.3 percent.

Rhodes said students can also consider alternative loans, non-federal loans used to supplement financial aid. Grand Valley recommends students accept the Federal Direct Loan offered to them if they have filed a FAFSA. In general, the Federal Direct Loan program will have the lowest interest rate.

Jenna Poll, associate director of Financial Aid, said the FAFSA is not always a current reflection of income.

Poll said a student's FAFSA can be reviewed for a more favorable award if, since originally filing, circumstances have changed. Examples include, loss of a job, divorce of parents, death of a parent or a change in income. Students can fill out a special circumstances form.

Michelle Rhodes, associate vice president for Financial Aid, said in response to COVID-19, the Grand Valley community and its partners have established institutional grants for those who have faced economic hardship. For more information or to apply, visit https://www.gvsu.edu/financialaid/financial-hardship-requests-226.htm

Francesca Golden, associate director of Financial Aid, said GVSU has more than 500 scholarship opportunities, which include donor-funded and department scholarships that can be used throughout a student's time at Grand Valley. Students can apply for scholarships between October 1 and March 1. 

She encouraged students to visit GVSU's online scholarship database

Golden said students will automatically be considered for several scholarships just by logging in and creating a general application in MyScholarships. Students can also search for scholarships outside of GVSU.

Yug Gill, assistant director of Financial Aid, said thousands of students work on GVSU's campuses and student employment is a great way to get connected. Campus job or work-study opportunities can be found at www.gvsu.edu/studentjobs.  

GVSU uses Handshake as its job sharing platform. Students will also find several virtual opportunities for campus employment.

Students or parents needing information about how to access prepaid MESP/529 plans can contact the Student Accounts office at (616) 331-2209 or visit www.gvsu.edu/studentaccounts/mesp529-plan-43.htm.

A second virtual town hall on financial aid, scholarships and student employment is scheduled for August 6 from noon-1 p.m. Register at https://www.gvsu.edu/events/financial-aid-scholarships-student-employment-town-467.htm