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.

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 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 .

Rene Hernandez Scholarship

The Rene Hernandez Scholarship is available for first-generation Hispanic students who attend a high school in Travis and Williamson counties of Texas. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

Total: $2500

Awards: 1

Deadline: April 15

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

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. With these scholarships, they strive to open a new door in a student’s life that will enable him or her to continue their path toward success.

Total: $5000

Awards: 1

Deadline: March 15

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

Florida First Generation Matching Grant Program (FGMG)

This award is available to Florida high school seniors and undergraduate students who are enrolled in at least six semester hours at an eligible Florida college or university. The applicant must demonstrate unmet financial need of $200 or more (as determined by the institution) and be a first generation college student.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: 

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

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 to nearly 400 first-generation Latinx college students from underserved communities in California, Illinois, Texas, and New York. Applicants entering college as first-year students are eligible to apply for an Award that can be renewed for up to four years.

Total: $11000

Awards: 500

Deadline: 

UNF DuBow Scholarship

This award is available to U.S students who are planning to attend the University of North Florida as freshmen. Students must have a UNF recalculated grade point average of 3.6 or higher and a SAT score of 1300 or higher or an ACT score of 28 or higher.

Total: $20000

Awards: 1

Deadline: 

UNF Gray Scholarship

This award is available to U.S students who are planning to attend the University of North Florida as freshmen and major in a field within the College of Arts & Sciences. Students must have a UNF recalculated grade point average of 3.6 or higher and a SAT score of 1360 or higher or an ACT score of 28 or higher.

Total: $16000

Awards: 1

Deadline: 

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 attention and guidance that helps them transition to Berkeley, succeed academically, and develop skills to ensure long term success. Based on financial need, each year Miller Scholars receive up to $5000 in scholarship for Fall/Spring, and up to $2000 for the summer between year one and year two. Students spend an entire academic year developing research and leadership skills while they plan an academic research or community service project, which they conduct under the guidance of a faculty mentor during the summer after their first year at Berkeley. The second year of the program prepares scholars for life after graduation, either in preparing them to apply for graduate or professional school, or in searching for and securing a job in their area of interest. Miller Scholars select one of two tracks: academic research or community service.

Total: $10000

Awards: 10

Deadline: