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 also 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 in family scholarships. Each of the scholarships listed below helps students overcome the financial challenges often associated with being a first generation student.

StudySoup First in Family Scholarship

Award Amount: $1,000

StudySoup, an online peer learning marketplace for college students, launched the First in Family scholarship in order to assist students who have overcome tremendous obstacles to become the first person in their family to attend college.

The award is available to any student who is at least 18 years old and is currently attending an accredited college or will be attending one within the next 12 months. The company asks for three short essays (no more than 500 words) describing the impact of being a first generation college student and how they plan to use their education to achieve their goals.

StudySoup will select one student who demonstrates leadership qualities, a commitment to their education, and a capacity to overcome challenges at the end of this year.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Award Amount: $5,000

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 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.

Fontana Transportation Inc. Scholars Program

Award Amount: $5,000

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

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

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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