Scholarships for First Generation College Students

Twenty percent of today’s students at 4-year universities are first in their family to attend college. And while not all of these students come from low-income families, the large majority come from households with a median income of a little more than $37,000. Moreover, first generation college students are more likely than their counterparts to hold jobs while in school and feel they lack the support needed to reach graduation.

So in order to help support this group of underrepresented students, many private organizations are offering first generation college student, or first-in-family, scholarships. Each of the scholarships listed below helps students overcome the financial challenges often associated with being a first generation college student.

Parents walking behind their graduating student.

Patty & Melvin Alperin First Generation Scholarship

Award Amount: $1,000 to $1,500

Deadline: April 27, 2020

The Patty & Melvin Alperin First Generation Scholarship supports students who are the first in their family to complete a higher education. Only Rhode Island high school seniors may apply for this scholarship. Additionally, the scholarship takes into account financial need when determining the winner.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Award Amount: $5,000

Deadline: March 3, 2020; October 6, 2020

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is an ongoing award provided by the U.S. State Department to encourage students to study, as well as intern, abroad. The goal of the organization is to help students gain the skills needed for the U.S. to remain economically competitive. It also helps to broaden the horizons of students by helping them to become exposed to unique, overseas experiences.

Though the scholarship isn’t exclusively for first generation students, it strives to provide financial assistance to groups generally underrepresented, including minorities and those coming from low-income households.

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Variable rates from 4.98% - 12.79% APR


Fontana Transportation Inc. Scholars Program

Award Amount: $5,000

Deadline: March 15, 2020

Fontana Transportation Inc., a trucking company based in Southern California, is offering a scholarship to students looking to use their education as a means of making an impact in their own communities.

The award is offered to low-income, first generation college students pursuing a degree at a 4-year university and also interested in pursuing a career in any of the following fields:

  • Transportation
  • Math
  • Science
  • Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Environmental Design
  • Pre-Med
  • Psychology
  • Spanish Language/Literature

Applicants are not required to be U.S. citizens; however, they must hold a minimum of a 3.5 GPA. They also must be able to prove they will be attending college starting in the fall.

Odyssey Scholarship

Award Amount: Varies

Deadline: Apply for financial aid

The Odyssey Scholarship provides financial support for first generation college students who are incoming University of Chicago students. U of Chicago alumni and other friends of the university completely support the fund through generous donations.

Odyssey Scholars are students who come from low-income backgrounds and are first in their family to attend college. In some cases, they are also eligible for additional funding to cover the expenses related to study abroad programs and health insurance. Recipients also receive the opportunity to network with donors of the program as well as other key alumni.

University of Colorado Boulder First Generation Grant

Award Amount: $100 – $1,000

Deadline: March 13, 2020

The University of Colorado’s First Generation Grant is awarded to residents of Colorado whose parents have not received a college degree or advanced technical training equivalent. Recipients of the award must also already be accepted into an undergraduate program and have financial need.

Awards range from $100 – $1,000 and depend on the financial need of each individual student. Students may also use the award to help cover expenses associated with any University of Colorado Boulder study abroad program.

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Lender Rates (APR) Eligibility
Citizens logo.
6.97%-15.03%* Variable
5.99%-14.00%* Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Sallie Mae logo.
6.37% - 16.70% Variable
4.50% - 15.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Credibe company logo.
4.98% - 16.70% Variable
4.07% - 15.66% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Lendkey company logo.
6.07% - 11.31% Variable
4.39% - 10.39% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Ascent company logo.
6.22% - 16.08% Variable
4.09% - 15.66% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
6.54% - 11.08% Variable
3.95% - 8.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Earnest company logo.
5.62% - 18.26% Variable
4.11% - 15.90% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
4.98% - 12.79% Variable
8.42% - 13.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
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