Most college students turn to some sort of financial aid to offset the cost of a higher education. There are many types of scholarships and grants available to students, from those that honor athletic prowess to some that reward students for community service or artistic ability.
A lucrative scholarship offered by many different kinds of organizations and universities is the First in Family funding for college expenses.
First Generation Scholarship
Gaining access to higher education can lift an entire family and mean progress for more than just the single student. Families that are sending their first members to attend college are offered special consideration for funding through a first generation scholarship.
For students who are the first to go to college within their immediate family, a First in Family scholarship can be a way to increase their funds and allow them to attend the university of their choice.
How First in Family Scholarships Are Funded
Public and private dollars are put into the first generation scholarship that is offered by universities, small businesses, corporations and charities among other organized groups. Each organization or institution administers the funds according to its standards and eligibility requirements.
To qualify for one of these specialized scholarships, make sure to read over all of the performance and need-based requirements. Do some research to uncover all of the base requirements. For instance, most of these types of scholarships are looking for students with a GPA that is above average and have a financial need when it comes to gaining access to the school of their choice.
Sallie Mae Fund
Together with the Hispanic College Fund, the Sallie Mae First in Family Scholarship is intended to assist Hispanic students in their pursuit of a higher education. Aside from the student’s position of being the first member in their family to attend college, a student needs to meet a few academic and need-based requirements. These include:
- Show financial need.
- Be a legal U.S. citizen.
- Plan to attend college full-time or are currently enrolled in a school with a full course load.
- Be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program in an approved institution.
- Have a GPA of at least 3.0.
Th Sallie Mae First in Family Scholarship is worth between $500 and $5,000.
Mercedes Benz Drive Your Future Scholarship
For students who are the first in their immediate family to make a move to higher education and have a proclivity for charity, then this lucrative scholarship can be a financial windfall. High school seniors who are high achievers both in and out of the classroom can apply to the Mercedes Benz Drive Your Future scholarship.
Mercedes Benz offers this scholarship to dozens of students each year for those who show a financial need and are motivated to volunteer and lift up their community. Recipients of this funding are expected to give back to the community through service or advocacy.
Coca Cola Foundation
The Coca Cola First Generation Scholarship reaches around the globe to assist first-in-family undergraduate and graduate students. Every year, dozens of recipients from around the world have been given $5,000 each to use toward tuition and various college expenses. Since its inception in the early 2000s, the Coca Cola Foundation has awarded more than $14 million to students with stellar academic records and significant financial hardship.
First Generation Initiative Scholarship
If you are a strong leader and student, then this is a great scholarship to apply for. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is intent on helping families get their first member into college.
High school students with high grades, financial hardship and good leadership roles in the community or their church can vie for a piece of this excellent college funding opportunity.
Choose Ohio First Scholarships
University of Cincinnati promotes its first generation scholarship to help women, minorities and other student groups to increase their representation in fields that have traditionally been dominated by white males. The university uses college entrance exam scores, GPA and FAFSA to determine winners for its $4,100 to $4,500 scholarships.
University of Hawaii Foundation
The Hilo campus offers ten scholarships worth $8,000 each every year in a partnership with the Dorrance Family Foundation. Local students who are the first to find their way on to a college campus to pursue a higher education and have a 3.0 GPA paired with SAT and ACT scores can apply. Students can continue to apply for these scholarships as they attend classes and live on the campus and continue to show financial hardship.
Michigan Grand Valley State University
The Frederik Meijer Honors College at this prestigious college offers full tuition to students who are awarded its first generation scholarship and meet all the requirements. Many of the students return to apply and be awarded a scholarship if they remain in good standing every semester that they attend the school up to eight semesters.
University of California, Santa Cruz
The USC Alumni First in Family Scholarship honors students who are making their first foray in to higher education as the first member of their family to do so. More than 60 scholarships were awarded in this area in 2019. The award amount is $2,000.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Tribal College Scholarship
College freshmen who are of American Indian or Alaskan Native descent and the first family member to attend college can apply for this $2,750 award. More than 25 awards are given out each year to students who are enrolled at a tribal college and have a minimum grade point average of 2.0 or higher.
Sessions College First-Generation Student Scholarship
International and U.S. students who plan to major in graphic or web design programs can apply for this $3,000 award. It is given to four lucky students each year who are the first generation to attend college in their family.
AfterCollege STEM Inclusion Scholarship
This $500 award is given to four students annually who are majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. They need to meet a few minimum requirements before being considered for the scholarship.
Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program
Students who are currently receiving a Federal Pell Grant for a two-year or four-year college can apply to receive this $5,000 scholarship. It is intended for students who plan to study and intern at programs around the world.
Fontana Transport, Inc. Scholars Program
Students in underrepresented, low income groups or who are first in their family to be bound for college can apply to this $5,000 scholarship. To be granted this award, students need to plan on completing an undergraduate degree as a full-time student in math, science, engineering, technology, environmental design, premed, psychology, transportation or Spanish language or literature. Applicants must have a minimum 3.5 GPA and do not have to be a citizen of the United States.
HEFF Architecture and Engineering Scholarships
High school seniors who are graduating with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA who have also been accepted into an accredited program in architecture or engineering should apply to this award. The HEEF scholarships are worth $3,000 and are based on a combination of factors, including the income of the family, academic achievement of the student and involvement with community, volunteer, charity or extracurricular activities as well as employment.
This a wide range of funds that is intended to enhance academic, social and career support that helps students from lower-income families and first in their families to go to college. Students are selected on the basis of family circumstances and financial need. The amount of funds and the application deadlines vary.
All U.S. high school juniors who are deeply involved in their community or local charities can apply for this award. A strong academic record and a financial need must be demonstrated to earn this $500 award. The award is given to 35 people annually.
Regional First in Family Scholarships
Most states have philanthropic or corporate scholarships aimed at assisting local students to rise up and progress through college.
Norman and Pat Hayes Scholarship –
This family presents one high school graduating student with a $1,000 award. Students must be the first in their family to attend college and live in Middletown or Monroe, Ohio. Cynthia E. Morgan Scholarship – Students who are planning to attend a college in Maryland and pursue a career in a medical-related field can apply for this $1,000 award. Only one student can win each year and all applicants must be Maryland residents. University of Iowa Advantage Iowa Award – Hoping to attend the University of Iowa? First-year students who are also first family members to go to college can apply for this lucrative award. The $8,000 scholarship is awarded to 10 students who show outstanding academic achievement. Winners must contribute to the school in their first year. Northeastern University Torch Scholars Program – If you hope to attend this prestigious college in Massachusetts and have a moving story of overcoming significant obstacles, then you should definitely apply to this first-generation scholarship. The college offers this $67,792 award to 10 students each year who show a potential to excel in their chosen major. Farash Foundation First in Family Scholarship – This foundation created scholarships specifically designed to help students get through college debt free. Students who reside in New York’s Monroe and Ontario counties can apply for full-ride scholarships. In exchange for the funding, recipients need to complete community service or work with a nonprofit to give back and pay it forward. * J. Craig and Page T. Smith Foundation –
This Alabama philanthropic organization works to help the state’s struggling students attend college as the first in their family. To apply, students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average and be involved in their community to some degree. CESDA Diversity Scholarship Application – High school seniors graduating from a Colorado school who plan to attend an accredited college or university in that state can apply for this $1,000 award. It is given to seven students each year who have a minimum of 2.8 GPA and who are a member of a minority group or a first-generation college student. Highpoint University First Generation Scholarship – Students who live in the city limits of Highpoint, North Carolina, can vie for one of two full-ride college scholarships. Guilford County Students are eligible. Write a moving 500-word essay that describes how being the first member of your family to go after a bachelor’s degree will affect you and your family. * Catawba College – Also located in North Carolina, students need to be invited in order to apply. Once the invite is extended, the student must offer a letter of recommendation from a teacher or other school faculty, a 300-word personal essay and various legal documents. The scholarship is offered as a full ride.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.