First-Generation Scholarships

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What are First Generation Scholarships?

First generation scholarships are funds for students who are the first in their family to go to college. The US Department of Education defines first generation college student as those whose parents never enrolled in post secondary education.

To qualify as a ‘first-gen’ or ‘first scholar’, neither of your parents:

  • Obtained a certificate or college degree
  • Earned an associate degree or more advanced degree
  • Attained a bachelor's degree or a more advanced degree
  • If neither parent nor a sibling has ever enrolled in or attended college

Apart from your ‘first’ status, there tend to be other rules about eligibility in place. An acceptable GPA and financial need (defined by your FAFSA application) are common. Also, volunteer work and leadership qualities are important to earn a scholarship.

There are scholarships for first generation minority groups too. For these, the provider may specify you must identify with a certain race or ethnicity.

There are also scholarships for low income, under-served students. So, cast a wide net while also focusing on ones with ‘first gen’ in the title. Take the American Indian College Fund for instance. They sponsor the Coca Cola First Generation Scholarship. It is a $5,000 annual, non-renewable award for American Indian and Alaska Native college students. 

Some providers also offer first-gen scholarships to students in local state or communities. These tend to ask for proof of residency and like others, your citizenship status.

Who Offers Scholarships for First Generation Students?

The First Generation Grant is available at University of Colorado, Boulder. It is a $2,000 per year award or $4,000 if living on campus for the first year only.

To qualify, you must be either an incoming freshman or transfer student and a Colorado resident. You must also fill out a FAFSA and be someone whose parent(s) or legal guardians do not have a bachelor’s degree.

If you qualify, you can apply for the grant through the CU Boulder Scholarship Application. As the season is closing, you should check with CU Boulder prior to the fall season for the deadline date.

Regent's Scholar Program at Texas A&M University

Another first generation scholarship is The Regent's Scholar Program which is available at Texas A&M University. It provides up to $6,000 per academic year.

To qualify, you need to be the first in your immediate family to pursue a college degree. Additionally, student's family income must be under $40,000 according to the FAFSA. So, there is additional application form and high school transcript to submit.

The scholarship is renewable up to a max of eight semesters. Recipients must be in good standing with their academics to renew this scholarship.

Organizations that Help First-Gen Students

There are many state and federal agencies with programs in place to help first scholars. Some of the national resources you might tap into are:

Beyond 12
A national nonprofit founded in 2009. Their mission is to increase the number of low income first-gen and underserved students who graduate from college. To do this, they have several programs in place including a “MyCoaching” App.

College for Every Student, Brilliant Pathways
CFES is a nonprofit that aims to help underserved youth prep for, gain access to and succeed in college. They now work with rural and urban schools in 24 states. Each school will work with low income youth, many of whom are first-gen students.

First Scholars
The Firsts scholars model blends a business mindset with college student success strategies. It intends to have a national impact and boost the graduation rate of first-gen students. They also empower students to build self-awareness.

Questbridge
An internet platform that connects bright students from low income backgrounds with colleges. As a facilitator, they hope to see an uptick in the number of low income students who attend college.

College Greenlight
A website that connects first-gen and underrepresented students to colleges. They allow students to connect with counselors and mentors as well. To use the tools, you need to create a College Greenlight profile.

Strive for College
The UStrive platform connects you to a mentor online who can walk you through the college application process. While they do not offer scholarships, your mentor can guide you to ones that may suit your goals. They also power the I’m First online network of first-gen students.

Why Apply for a Scholarship?

Studies by the National Center for Education Statistics show that 51% of first scholars rely on financial aid. Many first generation students work full time while enrolled in school. However, many students in a first generation situation never make it to college.

A first generation scholarship or grant can take some of the stress out of paying for college. Funds are free if you follow the terms. So, unlike a loan, scholarships don’t need to be repaid.

Apart from the financial help, there is another possible benefit. Once you graduate, a college degree may open up opportunity and earning potential.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that having a college degree boosts lifetime earnings. In fact, workers with a bachelor’s degree may earn twice as much as those who finished high school.

List of First Generation Scholarships

Check out our list of first generation scholarships below.

A Step Forward Scholarship

Personal Injury attorney Davis Haines has decided to offer A Step Forward Scholarship to one deserving first generation college student. The student will receive $1,000 to help them pursue their educational goals.

Total: $1000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  November 30
2020

Education Accessibility Scholarship

Applicants should be currently enrolled (or enrolled prior to the scholarship deadline) at an accredited institution, including with the intent to complete either a two- or four-year program at any junior college, community college, paralegal programs, undergraduate program, or graduate program anywhere in the United States. Applicants must be the first in your family to attend a four-year college and have good academic standing with a minimum 3.0 GPA or above.

Total: $1000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  December 31
2020

Regents' Scholarship

The Regents' Scholarship is designed to assist first-generation college students in achieving their educational goals at Texas A&M University. Students who entered fall 2019 or earlier will receive up to $5,000 per year for up to four years. Students entering fall of 2020 or later will receive up to $6000 per year for up to four years.

Total: $6000 Awards:  10
Deadline:  January 15
2021

Fannie & Sam Constantino First Generation Scholarship Program

The First Generation Scholarship Program provides financial aid to high school students who exhibit a high degree of motivation and academic potential, and whose parents did not graduate from college. Recipients receive yearly awards of one-half the total cost of tuition and room and board. Since a large percentage of their alumni stay in the Rochester area, the program serves to reinforce the College’s commitment to the greater Rochester community. The first-year program of coursework and advi...

Total: $1000 Awards:  10
Deadline:  January 15
2021

Alannas Scholarship

The Alannas Scholarship was set up in honor of Alan and Ann Schwartz, parents who encouraged their children to pursue postsecondary education despite considerable financial adversity. First generation applicants will recognize sacrifices their parent(s) made while maintaining strong ethics and instilling these characteristics in their children. The winner will be selected based on essay, financial need and their essay and will get a $1,000 scholarship.

Total: $1000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  February 10
2021

Alannas Scholarship

The Alannas Scholarship was set up in honor of Alan and Ann Schwartz, parents who encouraged their children to pursue postsecondary education despite considerable financial adversity. First generation applicants will recognize sacrifices their parent(s) made while maintaining strong ethics and instilling these characteristics in their children. The winner will be selected based on essay, financial need and their essay and will get a $1,000 scholarship.

Total: $1000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  February 10
2021

Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program

Fontana Transport Inc. is a family owned trucking company based out of Southern California whose owners are passionate about education and helping future leaders in their community pursue a higher education degree. The Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program is open to underrepresented, low income and first-generation college-bound students. As they believe everyone in the United States deserves an opportunity to study at a private or public institution despite their financial situation at home....

Total: $5000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  March 15
2021

George A. Miller Scholars Program

The George A. Miller Scholars Program provides outstanding community college transfer students the opportunity to develop leadership, research or community service skills and apply them in practice. Every year ten low-income, first-generation students are selected based on their leadership potential, academic excellence, and commitment to community service and education. As a close-knit group of students, Miller Scholars participate in the program for two years receiving individualized personal ...

Total: $5000 Awards:  10
Deadline: 

College Success Program

The TELACU Education Foundation combines important financial assistance with highly effective programs that aim to ensure students’ academic success. It was originally set up to revitalize urban, underserved areas throughout the US. The College Success Program is funded by TELACU and their partner businesses, colleges, universities, nonprofits and private donors. Historically, about 75% of TELACU Scholars earn degrees in a STEM-related or Business discipline. They have also awarded scholarships ...

Total: $5000 Awards:  500
Deadline: 

David C. Lizarraga Fellowship

The TELACU Education Foundation combines important financial assistance with highly effective programs that aim to ensure students’ academic success. It was originally set up to revitalize urban, underserved areas throughout the US. Since 2007, TOYOTA has generously funded The David C. Lizárraga Fellows—an impressive cohort of graduate students. While priority goes to applicants pursuing advanced degrees in Business and Engineering, those majoring in other disciplines may also be considered. To ...

Total: $1000 Awards:  10
Deadline: 

CESDA Diversity Scholarship Application

This award is available for graduating high school seniors from the state of Colorado who plan to enroll in an accredited college or university in Colorado. Applicants must have a grade point average of 2.8 or higher, and must be a member of a minority group or a first-generation college student.

Total: $1000 Awards:  7
Deadline:  January 18

Cargill Global Scholars Program for U.S. Students

U.S. first- and second-year college students who are attending select universities and demonstrate high academic achievement are eligible for this award.

Total: $2500 Awards:  10
Deadline:  March 01