Padnos International Center to hold passport fair

GVL / Courtesy - Kambriana Gates, GVSU student, received a Passport Scholarship and studied abroad in South Africa for the summer of 2017.

GVL / Courtesy – Kambriana Gates, GVSU student, received a Passport Scholarship and studied abroad in South Africa for the summer of 2017.

Tylee Bush

At a university that strives to foster cultural awareness, students are offered several services to make global experiences possible during their college careers. At Grand Valley State University, a passport fair happens once per semester to provide students a quick and easy opportunity to file for and/or renew their passports right on campus, and passport scholarships are awarded to students with financial needs.

This year’s passport fair will be held Tuesday, Feb. 27, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center Grand River Room. The event is free, and students must bring along the following items: proof of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate, previous passport or naturalization certificate); proof of identity with photo (driver’s license or Michigan state ID—Social Security cards are not accepted); two separate checks or money orders ($110 to the Department of State and $25 to the U.S. Postal Service for passport processing); and passport photos. 

If the student does not already have passport photos, they can get them taken for $3 cash at the fair with a GVSU identification card. Students are encouraged to stop at the PIC office (Lake Ontario Hall, Room 130) prior to the fair during normal office hours to get their passport photos taken ahead of time to speed up the process. After the fair, it may take up to six weeks for passport processing. 

Students attending the fair who wish to renew their passport need two checks as well ($110 to the U.S. Department of State and $6.70 to the Postal Service). To check if you’re eligible for a passport renewal, visit

Kambriana Gates, a senior at GVSU, attended the passport fair a few years ago, and it changed the course of her college career. Gates studied abroad in South Africa for the summer of 2017. She left with a major in nursing and had just been accepted to the Kirkhof College of Nursing. However, she returned with a change of heart. Her major now is global studies and social impact with a minor in African/African-American studies. 

“Being in South Africa this past summer for six weeks, I learned more than I have ever in a classroom setting,” she said. 

Gates was thrilled by the opportunity, but she said the process leading up to it wasn’t all that easy. 

“I felt defeated when I thought about the financial needs it would require to get there,” she said. 

Gates used several mentors to help her along in the process. Her TRiO Student Support Services director advised her to attend the passport fair and apply for a passport scholarship through myScholarships. 

“During the process of applying and writing papers for the scholarship, there was never a moment that I felt alone thanks to the study-abroad office as well as those in TRiO SSS,” she said. 

Gates is extremely grateful for the mentorship she received, as well as the passport scholarship she was awarded, which paid for her passport in full. 

“I would highly recommend my peers to go abroad because they might only be aware of the interests that are right in front of them,” she said. “Since going abroad and having that opportunity, I was exposed to new interests that completely took me off the track that I thought was my passion.” 

To ask questions about the passport fair, students can contact the PIC. Information regarding the passport scholarship is available online at myScholarships.