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Scholarships for First-Generation College Students

Several scholarship providers donate scholarships for students who are the first in their family to go to college, also known as first-generation college students.

Definition of First-Generation College Student

There are several different definitions of a first-generation college student:

  • Neither parent has obtained a Bachelor’s degree or a more advanced degree
  • Neither parent has obtained an Associate’s degree or a more advanced degree
  • Neither parent has obtained a college degree or certificate
  • Neither parent nor a sibling has ever enrolled in or attended college
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Paying for College as a First-Generation College Student

It may be hard to navigate through the financial aid process when you don’t have someone to ask at home, but we’re here to offer some help.

A top priority in paying for college is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). You want to complete this application in October for your upcoming fall semester. This application is used not by only the federal government, but also your state and school to determine what types of financial aid are available for you.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) uses the least restrictive definitions to be inclusive of all possible definitions of a first-generation college student. If you need help getting through the application, we have a FAFSA guide to help you and your parent(s) through the questions.

After completing the FAFSA, you will want to determine if the school you are applying to (or attending) requires you to complete any additional financial aid forms, like the CSS Profile™.

Those are the common forms required to receive financial aid from your school. Our advice, get them done as soon as possible once they become available in October. Some financial aid from states or your school could be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Let’s chat about scholarship opportunities. We have a list below to get you started, but there are many scholarship providers out there and some offer opportunities specifically to first-generation college students. They all have their own deadlines, but we can guarantee that you can always find a scholarship you could be applying for year-round. Set some weekly goals (like applying to one or two per week) to apply to as many scholarships as possible. And you can start whenever you’d like, just be sure to read each specific scholarship’s terms and conditions before you jump right in. We have a list below to help you get started and to give you an idea of what is out there for you.

If you are not an U.S. citizen, you may find it challenging to find scholarships to help you. We have a great resource of scholarships for undocumented students to help you find additional funds to help you pay for school.

Scholarships for First-Generation College Students

These scholarships include scholarships that are limited to first-generation college students and scholarships that target first-generation college students for special consideration.

In addition to these scholarships, several colleges have scholarships for first-generation college students attending the colleges. Examples include the the First Generation Grant at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Frederik Meijer First Generation Honors Scholarship at Grand Valley State University, , the George A. Miller Scholars Program at UC Berkeley and the Regents’ Scholarship at Texas A&M University.

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