Frequently Asked Questions
Begin by answering these three questions:
- Have I been enrolled at an eligible high school located in the city of Grand Rapids since the beginning of 11th grade?
- Will I graduate?
- Do I live within Grand Rapids city limits?
If you answered “yes” to ALL THREE questions, you are eligible. Unfortunately, if you answered “no” to ONE of the questions above, you are likely not eligible.
If you’re eligible, here’s how much you can expect to receive.
If you’ve been enrolled at an eligible Grand Rapids high school and resided within the city of Grand Rapids since the start of 10th grade, you are eligible for 100% of the scholarship (starting with the graduating Class of 2020).
If you’ve been enrolled at an eligible Grand Rapids high school and resided within the city of Grand Rapids since the start of 11th grade, you are eligible for 50% of the scholarship (starting with the graduating Class of 2020).
The Grand Rapids Promise Zone scholarship is available to EVERY eligible student who lives in the city of Grand Rapids and graduates from ANY of the 24 public, private, or public charter high schools within the city of Grand Rapids. This scholarship is NOT limited to Grand Rapids Public Schools students. Further, the scholarship is open to 5th-year seniors who graduate high school and to graduates of alternative high schools.
The Grand Rapids Promise Zone Authority and all of the partners involved have done their best to remove as many barriers to this scholarship as possible. We want students to graduate high school and remain successful throughout college and as they pursue their career.
This scholarship covers tuition, books, required course materials, and any mandatory fees associated with attending Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) for up to 60 credit hours total. This scholarship can be used for the Fall, Winter, or Summer Semesters.
Examples of required materials include:
- drawing supplies and other art materials
- tools and calculators
- medical supplies for health majors (e.g. scrubs, stethoscopes, etc.)
- culinary supplies (e.g. apron kits, baker caps)
- materials that are defined on the instructor’s syllabi
Laptops, tablets, or other similar electronic devices would not be considered a requirement since the student can use the open computer labs on campus, the Library, and/or check laptops out for a day at a time.
Required textbooks and materials will need to be purchased through GRCC’s Bookstore.
The Grand Rapids Promise Zone scholarship is a “last dollar” scholarship. This means that your federal or state need-based aid is used first, and the scholarship will cover any remaining balance. Students are required to complete their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to determine eligibility for available state and federal need-based aid. Students who are not eligible to submit a FAFSA do not have to complete the form.
Apply for FAFSA here: fafsa.ed.gov.
Undocumented and DACA students are exempt from completing a FAFSA form.
Currently, this scholarship is only eligible at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) for up to 60 credit hours. However, you can transfer those credits to many colleges and universities across the state and country as you continue your education!
Furthermore, you could be enrolled concurrently at GRCC and at a 4-year institution, trade school, or other post-secondary institution. You would only be able to use the scholarship funds at GRCC. For instance, a student could be enrolled at Ferris State University or Michigan State University and enroll at GRCC to complete credits over the Summer Semester with the scholarship covering the cost of tuition, books, required course materials, and any mandatory fees for those GRCC courses. As another example, a student could be enrolled at Grand Valley State University (or another institution) in the Fall or Winter Semester and take GRCC courses at the same time.
GRCC is a great partner because of their high-quality degree programs, job training, certifications, language classes, and other programs that can help every student move forward after they graduate debt-free. More information about GRCC’s programs can be accessed here: GRCC Academic Programs.
To receive a 100% scholarship: You need to live continuously within the city of Grand Rapids AND be enrolled continuously in an eligible high school since the beginning of 10th grade.
To receive a 50% scholarship: You need to live continuously within the city of Grand Rapids AND be enrolled continuously in an eligible high school since the beginning of 11th grade.
Those who move to the city of Grand Rapids or start at an eligible high school in 12th grade are not eligible for this scholarship.
Grand Rapids Public School District
- C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy
- Grace Christian Academy
- Grand Rapids City High School
- Grand Rapids Learning Center
- Grand Rapids Montessori High School
- Grand Rapids Public Museum School
- Grand Rapids University Prep
- Innovation Central High School
- Ottawa Hills High School
- Southeast Career Pathways
- Southwest Community Campus High School
- Union High School
- Grand Rapids Adventist Academy
- Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School
- Grand Rapids Christian High School
- Grand Rapids Covenant House Academy
- Hope Academy of West Michigan
- Lake Michigan Academy
- NorthPointe Christian High School
- NexTech High School
- Plymouth Christian High School
- Sacred Heart Academy High School
- Wellspring Preparatory High School
- West Catholic High School
- West Michigan Aviation Academy
Student receives award notification!
Eligible students will be identified through your high school and receive an award notification from the Promise Zone.
Fill out your FAFSA
In order to be eligible for the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship, students must apply for federal student aid by filling out a FAFSA form. Students can schedule an appointment with a GRCC financial aid specialist or walk in during Enrollment Center business hours to receive assistance – more information is available at: https://www.grcc.edu/financialaidscholarships
Apply for FAFSA here: fafsa.ed.gov
Undocumented and DACA students are exempt from completing a FAFSA form.
Students need to graduate from one of the 24 schools listed above.
Apply to GRCC!
This scholarship covers tuition, books, required course materials and any mandatory fees associated with attending GRCC.
For Challenge Scholars who receive the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship and enroll at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), their tuition, books, required course materials, and any mandatory fees will be covered up to 60 credit hours.
There are three tracks under Challenge Scholars:
4-Year Scholarship at Partner Universities – Join Challenge Scholars at Harrison Park or Westwood Middle in 6th grade, remain at Harrison Park or Westwood Middle School, attend Union High School for four years, and graduate with at least a 2.5 grade point average, 95% attendance rate, and no 180 day expulsions.
4-Year Scholarship starting at GRCC – Join Challenge Scholars at Harrison Park or Westwood Middle in 6th grade, remain at Harrison Park or Westwood Middle School, attend Union High School for four years, and graduate with at least a 2.0 grade point average, 95% attendance rate, and no 180 day expulsions.
2-Year Scholarship to GRCC – Join Challenge Scholars at Union High School in 9th grade, remain for four years, and graduate with at least a 2.0 grade point average with no 180 day expulsions.
For Challenge Scholars in these tracks who attend GRCC, federal and state need-based aid will be applied first, then the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship will be applied, then the Challenge Scholars Scholarship would be applied to any remaining balance. These students must still meet the other requirements for the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship (i.e., complete a FAFSA each year, meet GRCC’s Standards of Academic Progress, and complete their coursework within 5 years of high school graduation.
No. Students can attend college part-time. However, while enrolled in college, students must register for at least 6 credit hours per semester. Students can enroll for less than 6 credit hours in the Summer Semester.
Students have five years from high school graduation to utilize the scholarship. For instance, a student graduating high school in 2020 would have until the end of the Winter 2025 Semester to utilize their scholarship funds. Any courses completed after that point would not be covered by the scholarship. Students do not have to be continually enrolled in college during those five years.
No. We believe if you are prepared enough to graduate from a Grand Rapids high school, and are excited to continue your education, you should be given the resources to do so. Therefore, there is no GPA or attendance requirement for this scholarship. However, admissions criteria for Grand Rapids Community College will be in effect. For more information about admissions criteria, please visit grcc.edu.
The Promise Zone Scholarship can be used for the following non-credit programs at GRCC:
Full Promise Zone Allocation
Computer Support Technician
Introduction to Commercial and Residential Construction
Partial Promise Zone Allocation*
Certified Nursing Assistant
Public Works Academy and CDL
Here is the full list of academic programs: catalog.grcc.edu
*Students that enroll in these programs will have some promise zone funding still available after completion of the program. If the student were to enroll in a GRCC degree-seeking program or certificate after completion of one of these job training programs, the Promise Scholarship will be available to cover up to 45 credit hours.
In order to be eligible for the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship, students must apply for federal student aid by completing and submitting a FAFSA form at fafsa.ed.gov. FAFSA is the form all students must submit to apply for state and federal student aid. Once you’ve submitted a FAFSA, the government will determine your need based on a variety of factors and award financial aid to the student. The Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship covers the remaining costs for tuition, books, required course materials, and mandatory fees after state and federal need-based aid is applied. Undocumented and DACA students are exempt from completing a FAFSA form.
Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) is partnering with the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship to host FAFSA events for students and families on the following dates:
Pre-registration for these events is not required. The address for Sneden Hall is 415 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. A map of the GRCC Grand Rapids campus can be viewed at:
Additionally, students can schedule an appointment with a GRCC financial aid specialist or walk in during Enrollment Center business hours to receive assistance – more information is available at: https://www.grcc.edu/financialaidscholarships.
Stay Successful at GRCC
Students must maintain their educational excellence by adhering to the Grand Rapids Community College standards of academic progress. More information can be accessed here: grcc.edu/studentrecords/aboutacademicstanding
Tax increment financing (or “tax capture”) is a mechanism that has been used to support various economic and community development projects, usually projects that involve construction and infrastructure improvements. The State of Michigan is the first unit of government to use tax increment financing to expand higher education opportunity.
After a Promise Zone Authority captures half of the incremental growth in the City of Grand Rapids State Education Tax (SET) to help fund its scholarships. The SET is a six-mill property tax levied on all property in the state that has not been exempted for some other purpose. Tax capture is automatic under the law. No annual appropriation from the Legislature is required. When tax revenues grow, a set share of that new revenue is captured for a purpose specified by law. However, if tax revenues are stable or decline, tax capture can be reduced or interrupted for one or more years.
To meet its scholarship liability, the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Authority will need to fundraise $3 million from private or corporate donors or short-term loans – $950,000 to cover the first year of the scholarship, $1.45 million for the second year, and $600,000 total for years three, four, and five.
Grand Rapids Community College has committed $500,000 toward the scholarship.
Anonymous donors have agreed to provide sufficient upfront funding to enable us to raise $3 million over the next five years.
A Promise Zone Authority is a team of eleven people who run a Promise Zone in a specific community in Michigan. Nine members are chosen by a Promise Zone executive, like a school superintendent or mayor. Two members are chosen by the Michigan Legislature leaders. In an effort to gain more private sector involvement, a maximum of three members of a Promise Zone Authority can be public officials. The Promise Zone Authority creates a development plan which details their community’s Promise, how it will be funded, when it will begin, the extent of a degree that will be covered by the scholarships, and if the Promise scholarships will be extended to any additional categories of students.