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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Athletic Scholarships
- College-Specific Scholarships
- Company-Sponsored Scholarships
- Grants for College
- Merit-Based Scholarships
- Military Scholarships
- Minority Scholarships
- Our Scholarships
- Religious Scholarships
- Scholarship Contests & Sweepstakes
- Scholarships by Major
- Scholarships by State
- Scholarships by Type
- Scholarships for Graduate Students
- Scholarships for High School Students
- Scholarships for Undergraduate Students
- Weird Scholarships
- $1,500 - I Have a Dream Scholarship
- $10,000 - Unigo $10K Scholarship
- $1,500 - Sweet and Simple Scholarship
- $2,500 - Superpower Scholarship
- $3,000 - All About Education Scholarship
- $1,500 - Fifth Month Scholarship
- $1,500 - Do-Over Scholarship
- $1,500 - Flavor of the Month Scholarship
- $1,500 - Make Me Laugh Scholarship
- $1,500 - Shout It Out Scholarship
- $2,000 - Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship
- $5,000 - Education Matters Scholarship
- $1,500 - Top Ten List Scholarship