12 Scholarships for First-Generation College Students
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- Data from 2015-16 showed that 56% of undergraduates were first-generation students.
- First-generation students are those whose parents have not earned a bachelor's degree.
- These students can apply for a variety of awards to help cover the cost of college.
Recognizing that first-generation college students may need a little extra help getting ready for college, many schools, nonprofits, professional associations, and foundations provide awards specifically created for these learners. Keep reading to learn about some of the best first-generation scholarships currently available.
Colorado Mesa University's First Generation Scholarship
Offered to incoming first-year learners whose parents do not possess a bachelor's degree, this award requires applicants to complete the FAFSA and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
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This award can be renewed so long as students take at least 12 credits each semester and keep their Colorado Mesa University GPA at 3.0 or above. Learners do not need to submit an additional application to receive award consideration.
Award amount: $1,000 a year
Dorrance Scholarship Program
Designed for first-generation college students in Arizona, the Dorrance Scholarship Program provides awards to applicants who can demonstrate financial need. Selected learners can receive a $12,000 scholarship each year for up to four academic years, so long as they continue to meet all requirements.
Applicants must possess a GPA of at least 3.0 and score at least 1110 on the SAT or 22 on the ACT. They must also attend one of Arizona's three public universities.
Award amount: $12,000 a year
Florida First Generation Matching Grant Program
Provided by the Florida Department of Education's Office of Student Financial Assistance, applicants to the FGMG program must demonstrate need and be enrolled in an undergraduate program at an approved Florida public university or community college.
They must also enroll in at least six credits per semester and meet any other eligibility mandates set forth by their institution. If students continue to meet the terms, they can renew this award for up to four years.
Award amount: Varies
OCA-UPS Gold Mountain Scholarship
Provided to support first-generation Asian American or Pacific Islander students, this program provides 15 scholarships per year. Applicants must be in their senior year of high school and identify as AAPI. They are not required to have U.S. citizenship.
To apply for the award, students must submit a short bio, academic transcript, two essay responses, one short answer response, and two references.
Award amount: $2,000
Kim and Harold Louie Family Foundation Scholarship
Students hoping to qualify for this scholarship must be children of U.S. citizens or members of the U.S. military. They must also be starting their first year of college and have a minimum 3.7 GPA.
As part of the application requirements, students must provide two reference letters, a personal statement, and an online application. They must also participate in an interview.
Award amount: Varies
First Generation POH Scholarship Fund
West Indian or Caribbean undergraduate students whose parents do not possess a bachelor's degree can apply for this award if they're currently enrolled in a STEM-related program.
To receive consideration, applicants must submit an essay answering these questions: How has being West Indian/Caribbean impacted your life positively? Once you graduate, how will you use your new degree to help the West Indian/Caribbean community?
Award amount: $1,700
New Jersey First Generation Scholarship
This award supports first-generation college students residing and attending college in New Jersey. Applicants must be in their senior year of high school or first year of undergraduate studies. They must also actively participate in extracurricular activities and possess a GPA of at least 3.5.
As part of the application, students must write an essay on what it means to be a first-generation college student and how participating in extracurriculars has shaped them.
Award amount: $2,500
Provided by The University of Chicago, these awards support first-in-their-family college attendees, as well as students from families with low incomes. Awarded based on financial need, funding provides support for general tuition and fees. Students can also use funds to cover study abroad opportunities and health insurance costs.
As part of the award, recipients participate in a financial literacy seminar. They can also participate in a paid Metcalf internship or research project.
Award amount: Varies
Abby's First-Generation College Student Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded to high school seniors planning to attend a four-year university who would be the first in their immediate family to earn a bachelor's degree. This award requires applicants to possess a minimum 3.0 GPA and be involved in sports or extracurriculars. Applicants must also be participating in funding their education.
As part of the application, students must write an essay describing a challenge or setback they experienced and how they worked to overcome it.
Award amount: $500
First-Generation, First Child Scholarship
To be eligible for this award, applicants must be the first-born child within their family. They must also be the first in their family to go to college. Applicants must write an essay that shares what it means to be a first-born, first-generation student and how that experience has affected them academically, mentally, and physically.
Award amount: $1,446
McCutcheon | Nikitin First-Generation Scholarship
Undergraduate or graduate learners who identify as first-generation college students can apply for this award if they can demonstrate financial need. As part of the application process, students must compose an essay about how education has shaped their understanding of the world.
Award amount: $500
First in the Family Humanist Scholarship
Students who identify as Asian, Pacific Islander, Black, Latinx, or Native American -- as well as agnostic, atheist, humanist, freethinker, or secular -- can apply for this award by providing a letter of recommendation, essay, and a letter of admission from a community college or university.
Preference is given to students who have experienced homelessness or foster care, or who are undocumented and/or LGBTQ+ individuals.
Award amount: $5,000