Scholarship hunt made easy

Drew Howard

Searching for scholarship opportunities can be both frustrating and confusing, but with the help of the Grand Valley State University myScholarhips website, the process has been made easier than ever.

MyScholarships has entered its second year of existence. Its purpose is to streamline the scholarship application process into one concise application that cuts down on paper and saves the unnecessary time students don’t have.

Daniel Shannahan, associate director of Financial Aid, said the new process makes it less likely that students will miss opportunities.

“Now we have a system where everything is viewable,” Shannahan said. “This system kind of does some of the work for students in identifying what scholarships they will most likely be a good candidate for, so then they just have one common application they can use to apply for as many scholarships in the system as they want.”

However, depending on the scholarship, students are still required to fill out extra work such as essays or essay questions, Shannahan said.

Through collaboration with donors on campus, myScholarships also makes the process easier for returning and transfer students by requiring one deadline for most available scholarships.

“March 1 is the deadline to apply for scholarships for next year,” said Erika Wallace, associate director of Financial Aid for scholarships. “Students have from October to March to get into the system to apply for scholarships, and then scholarship committees have from March to May to make their decisions.”

Shannahan agreed that the deadline is important for students to be mindful of.

“The March 1 deadline is really helpful because, when students are thinking about financial aid, that one date can stand out,” Shannahan said. “As myScholarships has gotten more established and students are more aware of it, we have a lot less last-minute questions.”

Wallace said it was important to consolidate the scholarship applications because many of them were asking similar, basic questions.

“They are all pretty much asking the same stuff, just maybe a little bit differently,” Wallace said. “We looked for common elements that every application is asking for.”

Looking at other universities around the nation, GVSU is not the first university to make the move to online.

“We started hearing about these new systems going online, and we always knew the way we were doing it wasn’t the most efficient way for our students,” Wallace said. “It just made sense to do this database. It’s the time and culture we’re in where everything is online, so it’s very easy for students to log in to the system and understand what to do.”

Now that the site is up and running, the main focus is outreach and promotion, Wallace said.

“Last year was our first year, and we were learning how the system works and counseling students one on one,” Wallace said. “Our next step is more outreach and possibly hosting different types of workshops, like how do you fill out a scholarship application, or how do you write essays for scholarships.”

Many of these workshops are provided through MoneySmart Lakers, a program aimed at teaching students about important financial skills.

“We’ve had workshops on the topics of budgeting, credit scores, using loans, all different kinds of things,” Shannahan said. “In addition to understanding the financial aid piece, students can make good decisions about their finances as a whole.”

For more information about MoneySmart Lakers, go to smart.

For more information on myScholarships, go to or contact the financial aid office at (616) 331-3234.