Keeping your money straight

Money: students can’t live without it, but they don’t seem to have much of it to live off of. Financial situations can be the source of a lot of stress for college students, and those at Grand Valley State University are no exception to that feeling of being the stereotypical broke college student.

Inevitably, students will have to pay tuition, find housing and pay rent, buy textbooks and they’ll need money to buy food either through a campus meal plan or groceries. Additionally, students would (ideally) like to have spending money to buy items for their dorms, a fuzzy GVSU sweatshirt from the Laker Store or to go out on the weekends with their friends and go to a Grand Rapids Griffins game downtown. However, when you spend $10,000 alone on tuition, sometimes keeping your money straight can be difficult.

Luckily, GVSU provides plenty of resources to students on campus in order to help balance their funds, understand tuition rates and explain loans. Places such as the Financial Aid Office and groups like the Money Smart Lakers are offered to students to help guide Lakers through their four years here.

Here are the resources available to you on campus:

1: Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships

The staff at the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships are there to help you understand all things regarding money and financial aid. Whether you need help filling out FAFSA forms or are having difficulties figuring out how to accept loans, they can fill you in on the correct procedures. If you aren’t able to come into the office, the website offers resources including a list of terms that are helpful to know and understand. They offer many types of aid resources to students. There are grants, scholarships, loans, work studies and student employment. The office is open Monday- Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

2: MoneySmart Lakers

MoneySmart Lakers is a group on campus committed to helping students expand their financial literacy. MoneySmart is a free service for all students and they offer a multitude of options for students to better understand and manage their money. Services include individual appointments, presentations, group seminars and online resources. Each service is aimed at helping students make decision about saving, spending, investing and borrowing money. MoneySmart can help students determine needs versus wants and income versus expenses in terms of spending and then creating a personalized spending plan based on their current financial situation. MoneySmart also helps students understand their loans. A lot of the times, loans can get confusing and hard to handle. MoneySmart offers peer mentors that can help you decide which loan is best for you, how to accept loans and keeping track of how much you owe. The MoneySmart Lakers office is inside the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship. They are open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

3: Scholarships

What better way to get money for school than free money through scholarships? GVSU has many donors who sponsor hundreds of scholarships for students to apply for. Some are dependent on class standing, others are reliant on major and some are open for everyone to apply for. According to their website, there is over 300 scholarships available through GVSU. The university recognizes that not all scholarships need to come through GVSU, so there is also a list of scholarships offered by foundations or agencies that are not affiliated with GVSU. There is also a list of fellowships provided for students to look at. Fellowships are opportunities to be funded to pursue or study a certain topic either in the United States or abroad. There are plenty of opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. The majority of scholarship deadlines fall between February 15 and March 1, so be sure to get your application in soon. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship offers tips for applying to scholarships: know your deadlines, do your research on which scholarships would suit you best, start early, stay organized and be patient. A comprehensive list of scholarships can be found on GVSU’s financial aid and scholarship website under the tab ‘types of aid.’