Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University


Grand Valley State University is a comprehensive, four-year public institution located near Grand Rapids, Michigan, that has established a reputation for preparing its more than 25,000 students to excel in virtually every field. As a relatively young state university, Grand Valley has a rich history of educating first-generation students. Today, 40% of our undergrads are first-generation students. Our first-year retention rate for first-generation students is 83% and our six-year graduation rates is 61% for first-generation students who entered as freshmen, and 63% for those who came as transfer students. We have programs in place to help serve first-generation students and ensure their academic success. In addition, our liberal education focus emphasizes critical thinking, creative problem solving, and cultural understanding—preparing all students for life in a fast-changing world. It also fosters a commitment to economic, social, and environmental sustainability and an inclusive campus that values diversity.

Programs Supporting First-Generation College Students

Scholarship & Financial Aid The Frederik Meijer First Generation Honors College Student Scholarship

This award is a full-tuition scholarship for a select number of extraordinary freshmen who are the first in their immediate family to pursue a college degree. Eligible incoming freshmen who compete in the Scholarship Competition and are accepted into the Meijer Honors College by mid-February will automatically be considered--there is no additional application. The scholarship is renewable up to a maximum of eight semesters. Recipients must stay in good standing in the Honors College to renew this scholarship. Learn more about The Frederik Meijer First Generation Honors College Student Scholarship

Scholars & Leadership McNair Scholars Program

The McNair Scholars Program is designed to help academically talented students from traditionally underserved backgrounds reach their potential by earning a doctoral degree. Learn more about McNair Scholars Program

Academic Advising & Support Oliver Wilson Freshman Academy & Academic Success Institute

The Oliver Wilson Freshman Academy Program is an academic support program for students who have demonstrated a strong potential to be successful at Grand Valley State University, and are first generation, low-income, and/or students of color. The Freshman Academy Program works to increase retention and promote academic performance among its participants by providing support in the areas of academic support and personal development. The Academic Success Institute (ASI) is a pre-semester program that is designed to give Freshman Academy participants a head start on their first year. The ASI is a free five-day program designed to empower Freshman Academy participants to develop a sense of responsibility for their own education and learning. Participants will earn one credit towards graduation. Learn more about Oliver Wilson Freshman Academy & Academic Success Institute

Student Life & Support First Gen Scholars

First Generation Scholars is a student organization focusing on first-generation college students. Through community service, cultural exposure and professional development, students are invited to challenge themselves during their undergraduate years to get involved and give back to the community.

Mentoring Laker Connections

Laker Connections Programs (Brothers: Black Male Scholars, Laker Familia, and Niara) are designed to help students of color achieve personal and academic success by creating a sense of belonging and connecting students to resources and specifically, faculty, staff and peer mentors. A majority of participants are first-generation college students. Learn more about Laker Connections

Student Diversity

  • 22,209
  • 42/58
  • 40%
    First-generation college students
  • <1%
    American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • 2%
  • 5%
    Black or African American
  • 5%
  • <1%
    Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
  • 82%
  • 3%
    Two or more races
  • <1%
    Race and/or ethnicity unknown
  • 1%

Student Success

  • 84%
    First-to-second year retention
  • 67%
    Six-year graduation
  • 61%
    Six-year graduation for underrepresented minority groups
  • 87%
    Freshmen who live on campus
  • 28%
    Undergraduates who live on campus
  • 1,320
    Full-time faculty
  • 185
    Full-time minority faculty
  • 17:1
    Student–faculty ratio
  • Top 5 Majors

    Business, Management, Marketing and related support services; Health professions and related programs; Social Sciences; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Psychology

  • Multicultural Student Clubs and Organizations

    Arab Culture Club, Asian Student Union, Black Student Union (BSU), Japanese Culture Association, Korean Intercultural Society, Latino Student Union (LSU), Minorities Interested in Business, Native American Student Association (NASA), Out N’ About (LGBTQ student organization), Vietnamese Interests, Education & Traditions


Cost of Attendance

  • $11,520
  • n/a
    In-state Tuition
  • n/a
    Required Fees
  • $8,400
    Room and Board

Financial Aid

  • $81,000,000
    Total institutional scholarships/grants
  • $10,870
    Average aid package
  • $21,036
    Average student loan debt upon graduation (of those who borrow)
  • 33%
    Pell Grant recipients among freshmen
  • 61%
    Students with financial need
  • 99%
    Students with need awarded financial aid
  • 86%
    Students with need awarded need-based scholarship or grant aid
  • 15%
    Students with need whose need was fully met


Applicant Academics

  • 17,104
    # of applicants
  • 82%
  • 3.54
    Average HS GPA
  • 24
    ACT Composite
  • n/a—n/a
    SAT Critical Reading
  • n/a—n/a
    SAT Math
  • n/a—n/a
    SAT Writing
  • n/a
    SAT/ACT optional


  • 5/1
    Regular application closing date
  • $30
    Application Fee
  • $30
    Application Fee (online)
  • yes
    Fee waiver for applicants with financial need
  • n/a
    Early decision plan
  • n/a
    Early decision application closing date
  • n/a
    Early action plan
  • n/a
    Early action application closing date