What are First Generation College Student Scholarships?
Are you the first one in your immediate family to attend college? If so, you are a first generation college student, and there are special scholarships available for you. They’re called first generation college student scholarships, and they’re awarded only to college students whose parents did not complete a four-year university or college degree.
First generation college student scholarships provide extra financial support and opportunity for prospective students who may be in need of it. While it’s not always the case, first generation college students often face barriers when entering college — sometimes in the form of unsupportive family members, other times in the form of money itself. Awarded through public and private organizations (including schools and other institutions) first generation college student scholarships break down those barriers by giving first generation college students the means to succeed.
How Do I Qualify for First Generation College Student Scholarships?
As defined by the Department of Education in the Higher Education Act of 1965 and 1998, a first generation applicant is one whose parents did not complete a four-year college degree. This definition typically applies to both parents, but in cases where students live with only one parent, it can apply solely to that parent. While this definition is used by many colleges and universities around the country, it’s not the only benchmark for first generation college student scholarships. Many degree-awarding institutions have their own criteria for what constitutes a first generation college student. (Some, for instance, do not consider students whose parents have earned an associate degree to be first generation college applicants.) Colleges and universities will always make their criteria for first generation college student scholarships accessible to applicants, so be sure to check their websites to make sure. If you have questions, you can always contact the admissions office.
Wondering how to declare your first-generation-college-student status? If you’re applying for a first generation student scholarship, it will be one of the first things you do on the application. In some cases, you can also make this information known on your general college application. This can be beneficial when a college begins to consider you for possible aid. On the Common App, you’ll find drop down menus in the Family section where you can indicate the level of education for both of your parents. You can also mention your first-generation-college-student status on your college essays or short-answer supplementals.
Why Are First Generation College Student Scholarships Important?
It’s no secret that college creates opportunity. Those who attend not only expand their knowledge academically — they also gain access to an incredible range of resources, perspectives, and personal connections that they may have not otherwise had. For this reason, communities with more college educated people have unparalleled potential to prosper. First generation college students are part of the progress towards prosperity, actively creating opportunities for themselves, their families, and their communities. In taking the first step — enrolling in and paying for college — these students often face substantial hurdles. In cases where first generation college students and their families cannot pay for all or some of their college expenses, first generation college student scholarships make payment possible. In turn, new generations of college students pay that prosperity forward.
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