Completing your Scholarship Application

Scholarships 2024 Blog Banner 1

Through our annual scholarship program, Grand Rapids Community Foundation awards more than $1 million to local students, fueling their education journeys and personal goals. Scholarship Coordinator Angela Reyna Perez shares updates to the application this year and tips for completing it.

How do I apply for scholarships available at the Community Foundation?

First, gather your information! You’ll need to share about yourself and education, a personal statement and financial information. The application for the 2024-2025 academic year is open now and due March 1.

How is the application different from previous years'?

This year a transcript is not required as part of your application materials. We’ve noticed that submitting a transcript sometimes created a barrier for students, who would have to request it from their school and at times incurred a cost.

Since most Community Foundation scholarships are need-based, we do require financial information be submitted with your application. But, I want to emphasize self-reported information will be accepted if you are ineligible to file a FAFSA or have trouble with this year's new FAFSA application.

What do I need to know about this year’s changes to FAFSA?

Don’t wait! One change this year is that students need to wait up to seven days as their information is verified and a FSA ID is issued. You will need a parent(s) or guardian(s) to play a role in completing this form. The information you submit through the FAFSA will create a Student Aid Report (SAR). The information from this report is what you need to include in your Community Foundation scholarship application.

Can undocumented students, or others who are not eligible to complete the FAFSA, apply for Community Foundation scholarships?

Yes! Community Foundation scholarships are available to students who cannot complete the FAFSA—for example, undocumented students or those with DACA status. Complete the application and in your response to the financial questions provide your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). You can use the calculator on the FAFSA website to get this estimate.

I’ve had trouble completing the FAFSA. Will the application deadline be extended?

At this time, we don’t plan to extend the scholarship deadline beyond March 1. But, we understand the delays in the FAFSA process this year are presenting extra challenges.

  • If you are a returning college student and having trouble completing your FAFSA, please provide last year’s EFC. If your income has reduced significantly, estimate and self-report the amount you expect to be able to put toward your education.
  • If this is your first time filing a FAFSA and you are unable to before the deadline, please estimate and self-report the amount you expect to be able to put toward your education.

Are there resources to help with FAFSA completion?

Stay up to date on the FAFSA website. Or, if you are currently in school, your counseling or financial aid office will often guide students on how to complete the application.

Many scholarships are awarded to first-generation students. What would you say to encourage them?

We recognize the extra challenging road students who are first in their family to attend college face. Last year 59% of our scholarships were awarded to first-generation students like William. I'll let him share his story!

William Staples, scholarship student
William Staples
“I pondered about going to college at first. I was in a trade making money, but I knew I wanted more for myself. I have so much fun because I love what I learn about. I work full-time but I manage my time well and am seeing the benefits of a college education. As a first-generation college student, I push for everyone to get some type of education.”

The Community Foundation is dedicated to creating an education system where a student’s race, ethnicity or first-generation status doesn't determine their ability to succeed. Learn more about our general scholarships program, or our approach to education impact.


Angela Reyna Perez is scholarship coordinator at Grand Rapids Community Foundation. In her role, she supports both the Challenge Scholars program and general scholarships, working closely with students, committee members and external partners. Angela enjoys spending time with family and friends while sharing a good meal, playing soccer and exploring thrift and flea markets.