GVSU expands tuition-free program to all qualified Michigan students

Grand Valley leaders have expanded a tuition-free program that opens its doors to any qualified Michigan student who wants to enroll at the university.

The Grand Valley Pledge awards full undergraduate tuition (renewable for four years) to qualified students who have a family income of less than $50,000. It is available to new first-year or transfer students. When the program was announced in 2021, it initially included students in six counties where Grand Valley had a presence.

President Philomena V. Mantella said she is pleased to expand the Grand Valley Pledge, adding it aligns with the university's mission of increased access and breaks down a common barrier for many students: affordability.  

"We never want finances to be a barrier that stops students from moving forward," Mantella said. "I am so pleased Grand Valley is able to expand its access to all Michigan students who want to go to college. Talented students with a passion for learning belong at GVSU."

headshot of President Mantella
President Philomena V. Mantella said finances should not be a barrier that keeps students from moving forward.
Amanda Pitts
headshot of B. Donta Truss
B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said services are in place to support students and help ensure success.
Kendra Stanley-Mills

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics found high school juniors who believe they cannot afford higher education are 20 percentage points less likely to attend college within the first three years after high school than their peers who do not think affordability is a barrier.

Nearly 400 students who qualified for the Grand Valley Pledge enrolled last Fall semester, according to B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Management and Educational Outreach. He expects several hundred more students to take advantage of the program, and said systems are in place to help ensure their academic success.

"Grand Valley has enhanced its support services for all students," Truss said. "Students who qualify for the Pledge program will be positively impacted because of these new initiatives. We believe the key to success is meeting students where they are and this plan allows us to meet more students and to ensure they have an opportunity to succeed in college. 

"We are a student-ready institution and this is evidence of that effort."  

Michelle Rhodes, associate vice president for Financial Aid, said the Grand Valley Pledge provides a seamless opportunity for students to enroll in the university. Students who qualify financially, according to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), are automatically enrolled in the program without having to fill out extra forms.

Questions about the Grand Valley Pledge can be directed to the Financial Aid Office at (800) 748-0246 or finaid@gvsu.edu.