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10 Scholarships for First Generation College Students

As a first-generation college student, you are navigating uncharted territory, often without the roadmap or guidance that peers with college-educated parents might have. We know that college, as well as the other experiences that come with it are expensive, so we’ve put together a list of 10 scholarships that you can apply to as a first generation student! These scholarships recognize the unique challenges you face, such as a lack of familial experience in navigating higher education, financial constraints, and often, the pressure of setting a precedent in your family. 


They provide essential financial support, reducing the burden of tuition, books, and living expenses, and enabling you to focus more on your studies and less on how to fund them. 


For many first-generation college students, these scholarships can mean the difference between merely dreaming about higher education and actually achieving it. Some, while competitive, are free programs that can seriously boost your applicant profile, networking, and leadership skills. Others include a program fee with or without financial aid for a worthwhile experience. 


Scholarship Amount: Up to $5,000

Application Deadline: March 14

Eligibility

  • First-generation high school seniors who are underrepresented, need financial assistance and are passionate about furthering their education

  • Applicants do not have to be a U.S. citizen, but they must have a minimum 3.5 weighted GPA and graduate a US high school in Spring or Summer

  • Applicants will need proof of attending a 4-year university beginning Fall


As a first-generation high school senior, if you find yourself underrepresented, in need of financial assistance, and driven by a passion to further your education, the Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program is an opportunity that you won’t want to miss. This program seeks candidates just like you: leaders who are determined to succeed against all odds, regardless of the struggles, lack of resources, and hardships encountered in your community


For the 2024 Fontana Transport Inc Scholars Program, you must be a graduating high school student, planning to pursue a full-time undergraduate degree in the United States at any 4-year accredited university by fall 2024. The fields of study include Transportation Management, Math, Science, Engineering (any field), Architecture, Environmental Design, Pre-Med, Psychology, and Spanish Language/Literature. This scholarship aims to be more than just financial aid; it's a part of your support system throughout your college career, guiding you towards a successful future. The ideal recipients of this scholarship are those who have faced and conquered their fears, defied adversity, and believe strongly that higher education is not a luxury but a necessity for achieving the American dream. In this view, the American dream, much like education, is not confined to a specific color, shape, or form. If you believe that acquiring higher education is paramount to overcoming hardships and defining your professional identity, this scholarship is looking for someone exactly like you.


Scholarship Amount: $12,000 per year

Application Deadline: January 31st

Eligibility

  • Are an Arizona resident

  • Are a current graduating senior attending a public, private, charter, or home school

  • Will be a first-generation college student (neither parent, stepparent, or legal guardian holds a four-year degree from any country)

  • Have a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA (weighted or unweighted)

  • Have a minimum test score of 1110 SAT, 22 ACT, or 72 CLT

  • Demonstrate financial need by completing the FAFSA

  • Plan to attend ASU-Tempe, NAU-Flagstaff, UA-Tucson

  • Agree to live in on-campus housing during freshman and sophomore year


As a first-generation student, the Dorrance Scholarship Program is an amazing opportunity if you plan on attending college in Arizona. This need-based award aims to provide not just financial access, but also academic support to ensure your success in higher education. The program includes a generous $12,000 scholarship per academic year for four years, amounting to a total value of over $100,000. As a recipient, you'll participate in an Orientation and a Summer Bridge experience designed to prepare you for the rigors of college academics. You'll have the benefit of regular meetings with a dedicated advisor and access to tutoring as needed, ensuring you have the support to succeed academically. 


Beyond academics, the Dorrance Scholarship Program focuses on building camaraderie and enriching your college experience. You'll have the opportunity to travel internationally, participate in an innovation experience, and attend cultural enrichment events. By accepting this award, you agree to sign the Scholar Participation Agreement, commit to participating in all aspects of the program, and be eligible for international travel. You will also attend the Dorrance New Scholar Orientation and successfully complete the Dorrance Summer Bridge Program


Scholarship Amount: $40,000

Application Deadline: October 1

Eligibility: Applicants must have one of the following documentation or immigration statuses:

  • DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

  • Pending Asylum case open with USCIS

  • Pending Refugee

  • Undocumented, foreign-born people who do not possess a valid visa or other recognized immigration documentation in the United States

  • Applicants must have high financial need


If you are a first-generation student with one of the immigration statuses listed above, you should consider the Golden Door Scholars Program. This community currently supports 247 scholars demonstrating exceptional talent and determination in pursuing their education across over 100 colleges and universities, primarily in the Southeast. Impressively, since its inception in 2013, the program has seen 345 graduates who have gone on to successful, high-earning careers in diverse fields like banking, engineering, technology, politics, and community engagement. What makes this community stand out is its active alumni network, where former recipients act as mentors and career coaches, offering invaluable support and guidance to new scholars. The program partners with 21 colleges and universities that are committed to bridging the gap between access to higher education and opportunities for undocumented students.


This support is crucial because federal financial aid, loans, and work-study programs are often unavailable to undocumented students, making the cost of a college degree prohibitively expensive. Additionally, many high schools and post-secondary institutions lack the necessary training and updated policy information to support undocumented students in their pursuit of higher education. The Golden Door Scholars Program addresses these challenges directly, offering you a path to not only attain a college education but also to thrive and succeed in your chosen career.


Scholarship Amount: Up to $10,000

Application Deadline: Unspecified

Eligibility

  • Graduating high school seniors residing in the greater Silicon Valley Region (includes Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, San Francisco County, Alameda County and Santa Cruz County) OR current community college students who graduated from a high school within the five listed counties

  • First generation college students (neither parent earned a four-year college degree), pursuing first undergraduate degree


Established by Ajay Shah, Lata Krishnan, and their family, Krishnan-Shah Family Scholarship is specifically designed to assist students like you who demonstrate not only financial need but also academic potential and a commitment to community involvement. What sets this scholarship apart is its focus on providing meaningful and ongoing financial support. This isn't just a one-time grant; it's a commitment to your entire undergraduate journey. The Krishnan-Shah Family Scholarship aims to ensure that financial barriers do not hinder your ability to complete your degree. By supporting your education, the scholarship recognizes and nurtures your potential, allowing you to focus on your studies and community engagements without the added stress of financial constraints. It's an opportunity to pursue your academic dreams with the backing of a support system that believes in your abilities and is invested in your success as a first-generation college student.


Scholarship Amount: Up to $6,200

Application Deadline: May 12

Eligibility

  • Be enrolled full-time as a freshman at a TMCF member-school during the 2023-2024 academic school year.

  • Be a first-generation college student (first person in your immediate family to attend college)

  • Current cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher from high school


As a first-generation student looking to make your mark in higher education, the TMCF | Walmart Foundation HBCU First Generation Scholarship is a great opportunity for you. This scholarship, a collaboration between the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and the Walmart Foundation, is dedicated to providing financial assistance to outstanding students like you, who are attending one of TMCF's 47 publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). For the academic year, this program will select sixty-one (61) scholars, offering each a need-based scholarship up to $6,200. This substantial financial aid can be a game-changer for your educational journey, covering verifiable costs associated with average tuition and usual fees. This scholarship not only eases the financial burden associated with pursuing higher education but also acknowledges and supports your determination and hard work as a first-generation student. It's an opportunity to advance your academic and professional goals with the backing of two respected organizations committed to the success of students like you at HBCUs and PBIs.


Scholarship Amount: $2,845

Application Deadline: April 17

Eligibility

  • First generation student

  • Must be 3.5 or above

  • Must be a high school senior or undergraduate student

  • Must be first generation


As a first-generation student in New Jersey, you should apply for the New Jersey First Generation Scholarship, an initiative deeply rooted in personal experience and empathy. The scholarship was established by a couple who, as first-generation college graduates themselves, intimately understand the challenges and financial hurdles you may face in pursuing higher education. They both hail from Elizabeth High School in New Jersey and continued their education in the state, with one of them working full-time to afford schooling due to financial difficulties at home. 


Inspired by their journey and recognizing that only 26% of students without a college-educated parent achieve a bachelor’s degree, they created this scholarship to ease the financial burden for students like you. The scholarship offers $2,500 to two deserving first-generation college students in New Jersey. Their own educational paths led to successful careers, and through this scholarship, they aim to provide the same opportunities to those in need. To be eligible, you must be a high school senior or an undergraduate student with a strong involvement in extracurricular activities and a GPA of 3.5 or above. This scholarship is more than just financial aid; it's a testament to the belief in the transformative power of education and a commitment to supporting students who are blazing a trail for their families in higher education.


Scholarship Amount: $500

Application Deadline: May 11

Eligibility: First generation college student and experience with mental health challenges


If you are a first-generation student who has navigated the complexities of mental health challenges, the Mikey Taylor Memorial Scholarship offers you a unique opportunity for support and recognition. It's important to acknowledge that more than 25% of college students have been professionally diagnosed or treated for mental health issues. This statistic underscores the critical need for attention and support in this area, something the Mikey Taylor Memorial Scholarship is dedicated to addressing. This scholarship is specifically designed to assist students like you, who have not only faced but also grown through mental health struggles


As a first-generation undergraduate student or a high school student eligible for this scholarship, you are invited to share your journey in your application. You're encouraged to write about how your experiences with mental health have shaped various facets of your life. This scholarship is more than just financial aid. Your story of overcoming and thriving, despite these challenges, can be a powerful and inspiring part of your application, demonstrating your strength and determination as you pursue your educational goals.


Scholarship Amount: $500

Application Deadline: March 20

Eligibility: First generation hispanic student


As a first-generation Hispanic student, the Reinaldo Jiraud Memorial Scholarship recognizes the struggles you face in your pursuit of higher education. This scholarship isn't just a financial aid. It aims to empower you, providing the necessary financial assistance and guidance to help you achieve your academic and career dreams. In doing so, this scholarship fosters a more inclusive and diverse academic landscape, honoring your commitment to education and the sacrifices of your family. If you are a first-generation Hispanic undergraduate, you are encouraged to apply. In your application, share your personal struggles as a first-generation student and how these experiences have contributed to your personal growth.


Scholarship Amount: $1,000

Application Deadline: February 15

Eligibility: First generation high school student


As a first-generation student, the Carol A. Hurley Memorial Scholarship is a unique opportunity for you, especially if you're a Vermont resident. Managed by VSAC (Vermont Student Assistance Corporation), which is dedicated to helping students of all ages save, plan, and pay for college and career training, this scholarship is one of more than 120 that VSAC administers. It was established to honor Carol Hurley, a cherished VSAC outreach counselor who devoted her career to assisting first-generation college-bound students like you in preparing for higher education. By applying for this scholarship, you're not only seeking financial aid but also becoming part of Carol Hurley's legacy of empowering first-generation students to realize their college aspirations. The application period opens in October, and you'll have until the due date to submit your application


Scholarship Amount: $500

Application Deadline: May 1st

Eligibility: First generation high school student


If you are a first-generation student either enrolled or planning to enroll in a trade school, college, or university, the Editor World First-Generation Student Scholarship is a valuable resource for you. This scholarship is specifically designed for students whose parent(s) have not completed a 4-year college or university degree, acknowledging the unique challenges and achievements that come with being the first in your family to pursue higher education. Editor World LLC understands the financial burdens that can accompany your educational journey, and with this scholarship, they aim to provide assistance with books, supplies, or any other expenses you may encounter. The scholarship offers an amount of $500.00 USD, which can make a significant difference in covering costs associated with your education. To apply, you're required to complete an application form and submit a 300-word essay describing what motivates you to complete your certification or degree. This is an opportunity to express your aspirations, challenges, and what drives you to succeed academically. 



If you’d like to apply to rigorous research program open to high schoolers, you may want to consider the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business! 


Image Source: Walmart Foundation logo

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