Who are first generation students and why are there special scholarships for them? Find these answers in this blog post, as well as, the scholarships that are specific to first generation students. Who knows, you may be a first generation student and be eligible for the scholarship.
Are you a high school graduate or in your final years in high school and want to start applying for college? Well, here is a really helpful tip for you: check the financial package of the college or university you are applying to. By “financial package” this means you should check scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options available to freshmen.
And it doesn’t even end there, you have to be extra careful when applying for these scholarships and grants because there can be different scholarships targeted for a specific set or type of students. So, when you apply for a scholarship or grant and didn’t get it, it is usually because you do not fit into the category of students that the scholarship was meant for.
There are different types of scholarships such as athletic scholarships which are mostly found at NAIA schools, first generation scholarships, scholarships for the sick and disabled, study abroad scholarships, scholarships for LGBTQ, scholarships for the underrepresented minorities, scholarships for poor students, entrance scholarships, and many others. The list goes on and on and on.
The entrance scholarship is the most common and mostly does not require a separate application, that is, you do not need to apply for it. Applicants are evaluated based on their admission application and winners with the strongest or most competitive application are selected as winners.
Aside from the entrance scholarship, all other scholarships come with specific requirements and criteria, as well as a separate application, that candidates must meet to receive the scholarship. So, before you go ahead to apply for any scholarship, carefully go through the criteria to know who the scholarship is meant for and whether you fall into that category.
For instance, if you see a scholarship for first generation students and you aren’t one, do not bother applying because you are just wasting your time and effort, instead, utilize your time and effort to source for other financial packages that suit you.
Applying for scholarships is a ton of work and effort and, trust me, you do not want to waste your time applying for one that you clearly won’t get.
Now that you understand this, let me define first generation students and shoot off from there. But before that, we have a ton of articles on various scholarship opportunities that you may want to check out, as well as other interesting articles on various online high schools and online colleges in the US and other countries. You can also enroll in free long-distance courses from the comfort of your home.
Who Are First Generation Students?
First generation students or first-gen students is a term used to refer to students whose parents did not complete a four-year college degree. If you are the first person in your immediate family to attend college and earn a degree, you are a first-gen student.
Universities and colleges often offer scholarships to students who fall into this category to encourage them by helping them fund their education. As a first generation student, you can get a full or partially-funded scholarship.
Advantages of First Generation Students
Many colleges use a holistic admissions process which allows them to get to know applicants as a whole individual and understand their backgrounds. If this is used in the college you are applying for and the admissions officers find out you are a first-gen student, then you are likely to attract the attention of the admissions board.
And this is a good thing because they will give more concentration to your application and because of your background give you admission even if you have lower grades, test scores, or extracurricular involvement. By applying to college as a first generation student, the admissions officers will know that you have worked harder than regular students to get to where you are and this is the kind of hard work that every college values in its applicants.
So, your chances of getting into college as a first-gen student are likely to be higher compared to non-first-generation students.
You will also get better financial aid options that will help fund your education, which is the major reason for creating this post in the first place. To help first-gen college applicants find scholarships that will help offset their tuition load since most of them are from low-income backgrounds and it is usually the major reason why their parents didn’t get a college degree in the first.
Without any further ado, let’s get to exposing the college scholarships for first generation students.
Scholarships for First Gen Students
At this point, you understand what first generation student means and if you fall into the category, below are various scholarship opportunities that you can apply for:
- Catrina Celestine Aquilino Memorial Scholarship
- Sharyn First-Generation in Business Scholarship
- Newman’s Own Foundation Scholarships
- Odyssey Scholarships
- Colorado Mesa University First Generation Scholarship
- IFSA First-Generation Scholarship
- Cynthia E. Morgan Memorial Scholarship Fund
- Dorrance Scholarship Programs
- OCA-UPS Gold Mountain Scholarship
- Atkins Educational Foundation Scholarship
1. Catrina Celestine Aquilino Memorial Scholarship
On my first list of college scholarships for first generation students is the Catrina Celestine Aquilino Memorial Scholarship worth $500. It is awarded to first-gen students whether at the undergraduate or graduate level who want to pursue a degree in law and/or medicine or healthcare. You must also be a US citizen.
Applicants are also required to write an essay that says a bit about you and your plan to make a positive impact on the world through your medical or law career.
2. Dr. Sharyn First-Generation in Business Scholarship
This is also another college scholarship for first-gen students who want to pursue a business degree at the undergraduate level. It is worth $540 and awarded to a single winner. Applicants are required to write an essay on the topic “what does a college education mean to you?”
3. Newman’s Own Foundation Scholarships
This foundation was founded in 2007 by actor Paul Newman to provide support to students from low-income backgrounds with priority given to first generation students. You have to be applying for a degree program at Kenyon College to be considered.
Also, winners are selected based on their intellectual engagement, creativity, community service, and leadership. The award eliminates the loan portion of the financial package and is renewable for four years. There are also other scholarships on the website that first-gen, as well as non-first gen students, can apply for.
4. Odyssey Scholarships
The Odyssey Scholarships is a scholarship for first generation students and students from low-income families. The scholarship is offered by the University of Chicago, so, to be eligible for it, you have to be accepted into a degree program at the university and apply for need-based financial aid.
Winners are selected based on financial need and family circumstances and will also be get more funding for study abroad and other costs such as health insurance.
5. Colorado Mesa University First Generation Scholarship
Colorado Mesa University is offering a $1,000 scholarship to first-gen students whose parents never earned a college degree. Students must be freshmen or first-year students who have up to 24 accepted credit hours from another institution not including credits earned during high school.
The scholarship does not require an additional application for first-time students and they can also earn other scholarships on top of this. To be eligible, complete the FAFSA and a minimum CGPA of 3.0, it can also be renewed if you meet the renewal criteria.
6. IFSA First-Generation Scholarship
Institute for Studying Abroad (IFSA) awards scholarship of up to $2,500 to first generation college students and give them a chance to benefit from the life-changing experience of studying abroad. So, if you want to study abroad and are a first-gen student, this is your chance to apply and win $2,500 to cover the cost of airfare, visas, passports, and housing.
7. Cynthia E. Morgan Memorial Scholarship Fund
This is a $1,000 scholarship to students whose immediate family did not attend college in the US state of Maryland also first-gen. The applicant must also be aspiring to enter the medical field at a college in Maryland.
8. Dorrance Scholarship Programs
This is one of the best scholarships for first generation college students in Arizona. Applicants must demonstrate financial need, possess a GPA of 3.0, score a minimum of 110 on the SAT or 22 on the ACT, and must be applying to one of the three public universities in Arizona. The award is $12,000 per year and it is renewable for up to four years.
9. OCA-UPS Gold Mountain Scholarship
This scholarship is designed to support first-generation Asian American and Pacific Islander high school students in their pursuit of higher education. The scholarship amount is $2,000 and it is offered annually, so, if it is closed for the year, you can check back the next year.
10. Atkins Educational Foundation Scholarship
On our final list of scholarships for first gen students is the Atkins Educational Foundation Scholarship which provides financial assistance to first generation female college students who are just entering college. Applicants must also be a resident of Florida applying to a four-year public in-state university.
These are the top 10 scholarships for first generation college student category and if you meet the eligibility criteria, go ahead and begin your application. Good Luck!
College Scholarships for First Generation Students – FAQs
Are you first-gen if only one parent went to college?
If your parents went to only a community college or technical school and not a four-year college, you are first gen.
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Thaddaeus is a lead content creator at SAN with over 5 years of experience in the field of professional content creation. He has written several helpful articles for Blockchain projects in the past and even recently but since 2020, he has been more active in creating guides for students who want to study abroad.
When he's not writing, he's either watching anime, making a delicious meal, or definitely swimming.