GV sees increase in financial aid for students


GVL / Benjamin Hunt

Audrey Whitaker, Staff Reporter

Based on the data in the 2017-2018 Annual Financial Aid Report, the total financial aid awarded by Grand Valley State University increased from $60 million in 2015-16 to $65.2 million in 2017-18. 

Associate Director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships Jenna Poll said the increase in total financial aid awarded to students at GVSU is based on the increasing number of students applying for federal financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Poll said students applying to GVSU are eligible for three types of financial aid.  

“One of your first applications for financial aid is the admissions application, and that’s automatically your merit scholarship application,” Poll said. “The next big application is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and that’s the application for federal loans, the Federal Pell Grant, and then Grand Valley uses that application to award Grand Valley grants as well.”

Poll said the increase of students filing the FAFSA is the result of the state of Michigan offering incentives to high schools that encourage students to apply for federal financial loans.

“We have noticed high school guidance counselors getting more involved in the process,” Poll said. “More recently, compared to even a few years ago. I know that the state of Michigan is offering more incentives in the high schools for students to get their FAFSA filed. That is where those higher FAFSA numbers are coming from every year.”

Poll said the FAFSA is used to determine the amount of money GVSU will give a student based on financial need, and that filing the FAFSA is the starting point for students looking for need-based financial aid from their school.

With more students filing for FAFSA, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships advocates to the budget committee through the Business and Finance Office with members of the Provost Office and President’s Cabinet for their budget to increase in order to better serve students through need-based aid, Poll said.

“Every year, we advocate for additional funds from the budget committee to be allocated towards financial aid,” Poll said. “So depending on how the budget shakes out every year, that would be more what the increase (in total financial aid awarded) can be attributed to. As more money becomes available in the financial aid budget, we’re able to offer more (to students).”

Ultimately, the administration is responsible for deciding how money is allocated in the budget and has tried to increase financial aid as tuition rises.  

Evan Sander, a first-year student at GVSU, said that he values the financial aid GVSU offered and how it has enabled him to explore more opportunities while in college.  

“Now I can use that money that I saved in other ways,” Sander said. “So for example, because of the scholarships I’ve gotten, I’m thinking about going on a study abroad this summer. If I didn’t get those scholarships from Grand Valley and if I didn’t get the financial aid, that wouldn’t even be an option for me.”