GRCC student wins $10,000 in SALT financial literacy program contest



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications

(616) 234-4213

May 25, 2016 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Learning about financial literacy has added $10,000 to a Grand Rapids Community College student's tuition fund through a sweepstakes sponsored by American Student Assistance's SALT financial literacy program.

Jessica Verbeek, who recently finished her first year at GRCC, won the top prize in SALT’s Share Your Way to $10K sweepstakes. To mark April as Financial Literacy Month, GRCC shared information about the nonprofit SALT program, which offers advice and guidance on the money decisions that students face. GRCC students could enter the sweepstakes by signing up for the program or sharing information about it with their friends.

Verbeek, a Covenant Christian High School graduate, cheerfully admits to signing up for "kicks and giggles." She had heard about the SALT program -- which GRCC offers free to current students and alumni -- at a scholarship luncheon she attended and decided to sign up when she received an email from the college last month.

The sweepstakes prize will go toward her educational expenses.

Verbeek's mother, Marcia Verbeek, said her daughter is paying for college completely on her own, through a combination of scholarships, loans and her part-time job as a secretarial assistant at Process Engineering & Equipment. 

"She's the one paying and investigating her options," Marcia Verbeek said. "So this is a very nice gift."

Jessica Verbeek, who is in GRCC's Honors Program, is pursuing an associate degree in general studies. She's fitting in some GRCC classes this summer while working. She is still exploring career options and might transfer to a four-year institution in the future.

GRCC wants students to make informed financial decisions during -- and after -- college, which is why the SALT program is offered, said Eric Mullen, associate dean of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid. 

"We have been able to weave the SALT financial learning modules within our orientation program, first-year student courses, and strategic communication email campaigns," he said. "The ASA SALT program has provided invaluable resources and guidance for our students to best navigate paying for college, building their financial literacy, and successfully transitioning to their transfer institution or first job with a solid financial footing."

“Our research shows that too often students aren’t discussing personal finance with parents, peers or anyone,” said John Zurick, SALT president. “Through campaigns like this one, we aim to spur peer-to-peer conversations about finances and encourage sharing of SALT’s advice and tools, so students are empowered to take charge of their money.”

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.

SALT is a free and unbiased nonprofit-backed financial education program dedicated to giving students, alumni, and families the money knowledge they need for college and beyond. More than 300 higher education institutions, nonprofits and corporate sponsors nationwide currently partner with SALT to bring its resources to more than 4 million students, alumni and employees. SALT was created by American Student Assistance®, a nonprofit organization with 60 years’ experience helping people make better decisions about financing their education and repaying student loans.