First Generation Scholarships

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What are First Generation Scholarships?

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

To qualify for a scholarship as a ‘first generation’ 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 first generation 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, underserved 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, nonrenewable award for American Indian and Alaska Native college students. Some providers also offer first generation 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?

An example of first generation scholarships 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.

The First Generation Grant is available at University of Colorado, Boulder. It is a $2,000 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.

Organizations that Help First Generation Students

There are many state and federal agencies with programs in place to help first generation scholars. Some of these organizations may also offer first generation scholarships.

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 generation 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.

College Greenlight
A website that connects first generation 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 first generation 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 First Gen Students Should Apply for a Scholarship?

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

Apart from the financial help, there is another possible benefit. Once you graduate, a college degree may open up job opportunities 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 awards worth .

First Generation Scholars

First Generation Scholars is a scholarship program set up at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota for high-need, high-potential, first-generation students from partner Lasallian and Jesuit high schools. These students must complete the Countdown to College program, our unique academic preparatory camp, held each summer during their high school years. The program serves students at two possible stages in their education, high school and college. High school students from partner Lasallian and Jesuit high schools have the opportunity to participate in the Countdown to College, an annual summer program that helps boost academic skills necessary for college readiness. First-generation students who enroll at Saint Mary’s for undergraduate studies have access to academic, social, and cultural support. First-generation students need not participate in the Countdown to College program to be eligible for services.

Total: $1000

Awards: 10

Deadline: June 01

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

Northeastern University Torch Scholars Program

This award is available to U.S high school students who are planning to attend Northeastern University, MA. Each applicant must be a first-generation college student who has overcome exceptional odds and who demonstrates the potential to excel academically.

Total: $72932

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 01

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: $12000

Awards: 2

Deadline: January 15

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: $21220

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 15

Largo Lions Foundation Scholarship

This scholarship is available for high school seniors residing in Largo Florida who have overcome a significant personal obstacle. Selection is based on academic record, community service participation, and financial need.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 15

Jasdeep Singh Scholarship

Applicants need to be the first in their household family to attend post-secondary education at a certified institution, Matriculating freshman or sophomores as of Summer or Fall of 2021. One scholarship will be awarded to a Connecticut resident, the other can be from any other state or the District of Columbia.

Total: $2000

Awards: 2

Deadline: January 15

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: $20000

Awards: 2

Deadline: January 20

Upper Valley Scholarship

This award is available for undergraduate students who are residents of Vermont’s Upper Valley region. Students must demonstrate financial need and community service/involvement; preference will be given to students who are among the first generation in their families to attend college.

Total: $4000

Awards: 4

Deadline: February 11

Orange County Scholarship

This scholarship is for female undergraduate students who have resided in Orange County, Vermont, for at least one year, and who demonstrate financial need and education/work ethic. Students must face significant barriers that limit access to education after high school; preference is given to students who are among the first generation in their families to attend college.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 11