Grand confusion

GVL Staff

In the current economy, being unexpectedly ineligible for a $1,000 grant can have a massive impact on a student’s financial status or his or her ability to pay for school.

That change becomes even more impactful when the students affected are arguably the most deserving — self-motivated and driven students who have worked relentlessly and, in many cases, taken on additional expenses to obtain their degrees within four years. These students seemingly would benefit the most from the Grand Finish grant, but instead were shorted a grand due to lack of communication and misleading promotions on behalf of the university, which left many seniors feeling betrayed and scrambling to fill the gap in the financial aid package they expected.

Expecting that students would click through three separate pages on three separate areas of the GVSU website to read the fine print of a scholarship that was blatantly advertised with cut-and-dry eligibility requirements was not only misleading, but simply wrong. Instead of worrying that including the limitations in the press releases and online description would not be “polite,” as Joe Godwin, associate vice president for academic affairs, said, the university should have admitted the limitations from the start. At the very least, ineligible students should have been notified about the exception.

Instead, GVSU strung along some of its best and brightest, who had no clue they’d be down $1,000 in financial aid before noticing the grant was conspicuously missing from their award letters.

The case with the Grand Finish, however, is not black and white. Expanding the award to begin with students who entered in Fall 2008 instead of Fall 2010 left overachieving students in the startup year in the cold, but it also tripled the number of students who would receive assistance. The millions being spent on the Grand Finish demonstrate a significant and measurable investment that the university is making in its students, but that doesn’t mean the situation was handled correctly.

But while the university has a strong record of supporting its students as best it can, and while expanding the Grand Finish was an overall boon to the student body, the process of that expansion, most notably the way in which the university failed to notify ineligible students, was mishandled.