By Angelina Jahn
Applying for financial aid can be an overwhelming task, particularly for first-generation college students. Many forms of financial aid go underutilized, often because students aren’t aware of all of the different options available to them, or because they don’t take advantage of the resources available to them. The most recent resource that has become available to students is the ability to appeal their financial aid package due to hardships caused by COVID-19.
GRCC financial aid director, David DeBoer, says that foundations are resources that are often overlooked by students.
“The GRCC Foundation Scholarship, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, and the Holland/Zeeland Area Community Foundation for students on the Lakeshore are just a few,” DeBoer said. “FASTWEB is a good resource for scholarships as well. It is important to note that students should never pay to apply for scholarships.”
The GRCC foundation is the easiest way to apply for scholarships. It’s one application form that automatically applies you to all scholarships that you qualify for, with over 300 available through the foundation.
The largest source of grants is available through the federal government. Eligibility for these is determined by the information provided on the Free Application for Student Aid, also known as FAFSA.
Because many students are facing financial hardships due to the pandemic, colleges are currently listening to requests for increases in financial aid for those who may be struggling.
“Students who have experienced a loss of income or other financial hardship can appeal through GRCC’S Special Circumstances process,” DeBoer said. “GRCC recognizes that many households have had a significant drop in income in the 2020-2021 calendar years due to the pandemic and accompanying economic downturn. The information provided on the 2020-2021 FAFSA by students and families may not reflect the current economic situation. Students, their spouses, and parents (if the student is dependent) who have suffered a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic should submit a special consideration form found on our Forms page.”
For students who need assistance with their financial aid journey, GRCC has financial aid representatives who are available to help. Students may reach them at 616-234-4030, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.