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 Generation 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. We have 6,013 awards worth $11M.

USAC First Generation Scholarship

USAC awards students financially to assist with their study abroad expenses. For this award, applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and have parents who did not graduate from a 4-year institution.

Total: $10000

Awards: 10

Deadline: October 15, 2020

Frances C. and William P. Smallwood Foundation Scholarship

This scholarship is available to University of Nevada, Reno students who hold a 3.0 GPA or higher, graduated from a Carson City, Douglas, or Washoe County high school, are first-generation and/or demonstrate high financial need (EFC under $8000), and have completed their MyNevada General Scholarship Application by February 1.

Total: $4000

Awards: 4

Deadline: October 15, 2020

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

UW-Eau Claire Blugold Promise-Sundstrom Scholarship

Non-traditional and first generation incoming students to the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire who have earned no more than 30 college credit hours and graduated from a Wisconsin high school are eligible for this award. Students must demonstrate financial need; preference is given to students from Durand High School.

Total: $1500

Awards: 1

Deadline: December 01, 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

AfterCollege STEM Inclusion Scholarship

The AfterCollege STEM Inclusion Scholarship is available to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students from an under-represented population group who are majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

Total: $2000

Awards: 4

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 advising at the College is ideally suited to meet the needs of first generation students. Fisher offers students access to an outstanding faculty who can enable students to discover their natural abilities and to develop their minds. First Generation Scholarship recipients participate in a Learning Community designed to assist them in making a successful transition to a college environment. They also take part in an academic mentoring program in the Rochester community. This program allows them to mentor younger students in ways that encourage their interest in and pursuit of a college education.

Total: $1000

Awards: 10

Deadline: January 15, 2021

Fund for Education Abroad

Up to $10,000 are offered for students who plan to study abroad for a full academic year; $5,000 for students who plan to study abroad during the fall or spring semester; and awards that are prorated by number of weeks in-country for studying abroad in summer $1,250. Click to learn more and apply today!

Total: $162500

Awards: 10

Deadline: January 20, 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

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