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40 Great Scholarships for First-Generation College Students

The best scholarships for first-generation college students have a few things in common. They might differ in terms of value, eligibility or admission rules, but they’re all designed to help low-income students get on the same playing field as others. Every student has the right to equal education, and with these scholarships, a first-gen student can achieve the American dream just like anyone else.

1. TELACU College Success Program

Eligibility:

– 2.5 GPA

– Incoming freshman

– First-generation college student

– Enrolled full-time

Sponsored by the TELACU Education Foundation, this College Success Program is more than just a scholarship. It also offers workshops, career guidance, tutoring sessions, and interning opportunities, and it can be renewed every year for a total of four years. You’ll need to meet additional criteria for renewal, including a good academic record and a number of volunteer hours, but it’s a fantastic program for dedicated college students who are serious about making something of themselves.

Scholarship Website

2. Talent Incentive Program Grants

Eligibility:

– Incoming freshmen

– Must attend a Wisconsin university

– Must demonstrate both financial need and disadvantaged/”non-traditional” circumstances

Funded by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the Talent Incentive Program (TIP) Grants are awarded to low-income students in Wisconsin. They range from $600 to $1,800 per year and can be renewed for a total of 10 semesters. One noteworthy thing about the TIP Grants is that students must meet a criterion between two separate groups: financial need and disadvantaged circumstances. You don’t have to be a first-gen college student to apply for the scholarship, but it can qualify you for the second criteria.

Scholarship Website

3. Smith Scholarship Foundation

Eligibility:

– High school senior

– “C” average or higher

– Must be an Alabama resident heading to an Alabama university

The Smith Scholarship Foundation is funded by the estate of the late heiress of Avondale Mills. It’s awarded to high school seniors in Alabama who want to pursue a degree at an Alabama university. Applicants must fill out the forms, write two personal essays and have three letters of recommendation from parents, teachers, coaches or community leaders. The scholarship is renewable, but there are certain restrictions based on things like credits and working hours.

Scholarship Website

4. IFSA First Generation College Student Scholarship

Eligibility:

– First-generation college student

IFSA scholarships are funded by the Institute for Study Abroad, an organization that helps students travel the globe and study at international colleges. The First Generation College Student Scholarship is meant specifically for first-time, low-income students who can’t afford a semester abroad without help. It offers up to $2,500 while covering expenses such as flights, passport fees, visa application fees, and housing. Applicants must submit a resume and a 500-word personal essay detailing their dreams and goals as the first person in their family to go to college.

Scholarship Website

5. VAMOS Scholarships

Eligibility:

– Texas resident

– 2.5 GPA or ranking within the top 30 percent of the graduating class

– Enrolling as a full-time college student

– Meets all eligibility requirements for the Pell Grant

VAMOS Scholarships are given to high school students in the Texas communities of Hidalgo, Starr or Cameron County. There are several available, and they offer up to $5,000 for tuition costs. At least one is renewable through all four years of schooling. They aren’t meant specifically for first-generation college students, but since they’re awarded based on merit and financial need, high-achieving students can qualify regardless of their family situation.

Scholarship Website

6. First Generation Matching Grant Program

Eligibility:

– Florida resident

– First-generation college student

– Degree-seeking undergraduate student

– Enrolled for at least six credit hours per term

The First Generation Matching Grant Program is administered by the Florida Department of Education. The scholarship money varies depending on merit and need. You’ll need to be a current or future degree-seeking undergraduate student, but you can be studying any discipline. The scholarship is only open to students with parents who have never obtained a college degree.

Scholarship Website

7. Cynthia E. Morgan Memorial Scholarship Fund

Eligibility:

– Maryland resident

– Junior or senior in high school

– Planning to attend college in Maryland

– Planning to pursue a healthcare degree

– First-generation college student

Future doctors can benefit from the Cynthia E. Morgan Memorial Scholarship Fund. It offers $1,000 to high school students in Maryland who are seeking a medical or medical-related degree. This includes doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory scientists, and occupational therapists. Applicants must be first-generation college students who are planning to attend school in the state of Maryland.

Scholarship Website

8. Buddy Pierce and Maggie P. Speight Scholarship Fund for the Arts

Eligibility:

– “B” average

– Demonstrated financial need

– Pursuing a career in music or the arts

Funded by two music lovers in Nashville, the Buddy Pierce and Maggie P. Speight Scholarship Fund for the Arts is for low-income students who are interested in music or the arts. Scholarship amounts vary, but they’re renewable for students in good academic standing. They’re administered by the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. You don’t have to be first-generation to apply.

Scholarship Website

9. Coca-Cola Scholars Scholarship

Eligibility:

– 3.0 GPA

– Current high school senior

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation offers several scholarships, including one for incoming college freshmen. It’s called the Coca-Cola Scholars Scholarship, and it awards $5,000 over four years of school for a total value of $20,000. It’s given to 150 students annually. Some universities also receive funding from the foundation to offer a Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship, but these aren’t available nationwide, and they have their own, independent criteria for eligibility. You’ll need to look for them specifically if you’re interested.

Scholarship Website

10. American Indian College Fund Full Circle Scholarship

Eligibility:

– 2.0 GPA

– Enrolled in a non-profit university or tribal school

– Enrolled member of a recognized American Indian tribe

The Full Circle Scholarship is sponsored by the American Indian College Fund. It’s meant for students with American Indian ancestry who want to pursue full-time study at a college or tribal school. To qualify, either you or your parents have to be enrolled members of a federally recognized American Indian tribe, and you’ll need to provide your documentation along with a transcript, picture, and personal essay. In exchange, you could win a renewable four-year scholarship that will support you throughout your education.

Scholarship Website

11. Community Foundation of Shelby County Scholarships

Eligibility:

– Current and aspiring college students

The best first-gen college student scholarships are flexible enough to serve students of all skills and interests, and the Community Foundation of Shelby County is just one organization that recognizes this. They offer dozens of scholarships ranging from $1,000 – $3,500. The most relevant is the Layton Family Foundation Scholarship, a $1,000 grant for students who are the first in their family to go to college, but there are also scholarships for athletes, veterans, valedictorians, and community college students. The eligibility criterion ranges from minimum GPA scores to residency requirements in Shelby County, Ohio.

Scholarship Website

12. Atkins Educational Foundation Pathway to Success Scholarship

Eligibility:

– Female

– Florida resident

– Applying to a Florida university

– First-generation college student

– Eligible for FAFSA and FFAA

– Has applied for at least two other scholarships

Female high school students in Florida are encouraged to apply for the Pathway to Success Scholarship sponsored by the Atkins Educational Foundation. It can be applied to any major, and applicants can attend any university in Florida as long as they’re an in-state student. However, the Pathway to Success Scholarship is a supplementary scholarship as opposed to a full ride, and one of its eligibility requirements is that applicants have applied for other scholarships as well.

Scholarship Website

13. Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program

Eligibility:

– 3.5 GPA

– High school senior

– Low-income or underrepresented student

– Majoring in math, science, engineering, transportation management or other selected disciplines

The Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program is sponsored by a trucking company in California, but applicants don’t have to be from California to apply. Any low-income or first-gen student is eligible. You’ll just need a strong academic record and an interest in pursuing a specific, pre-approved degree such as transportation management. The scholarship is worth $5,000 with the option to renew.

Scholarship Website

14. Red Thread Fellowship Program

Eligibility:

– Female

– International or first-gen student

– Enrolling in a U.S. college

The Red Thread Fellowship Program offers $1,000 in scholarship money to female students of an international background. This includes immigrants, foreign students and first-generation college students from underrepresented families. In addition to the money, winners will also receive one year of mentorship from the foundation that includes things like career counseling and networking opportunities. There are no residency or citizenship requirements, but students have to be enrolling in a U.S. university.

Scholarship Website

15. Taigh Scholarship

Eligibility:

– Vermont resident

– Demonstrates financial need

– Enrolling at least half-time in college

The Taigh Scholarship is funded by the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, and as such, it’s limited to residents of Caledonia County, Vermont. Anyone can apply, but preference will be given to first-generation college students who can demonstrate a clear financial need through their enrollment in programs like FAFSA. They can pursue any major, but classes will need to be at least half-time. The scholarship is a one-time payment of $1,000.

Scholarship Website

16. Corinne Licostie Family Foundation Scholarship

Eligibility:

– U.S. citizen

– Current or aspiring college student

The Corinne Licostie Family Foundation Scholarship is a broad scholarship with minimal requirements. Just fill out a simple application with basic questions and no fee. Your chance to shine will be the 300 – 350-word essay where you can talk about your life, family, struggles or career goals. Preference will be given to young people who have overcome adversity, including those who are first-generation immigrants to America or first-generation college students in general.

Scholarship Website

17. BizInsure First Generation Scholarship

Eligibility:

– 18 years or older

– First-generation college student

– Majoring in business or a business-related field

The BizInsure First Generation Scholarship is meant for the future business leaders of America. You’ll need to be majoring in business or a business-related field such as finance, accounting, marketing, management or entrepreneurship, and you’ll have to prove that you’re the first in your family to go to college. In addition to a one-time payment of $2,000, you’ll also qualify for a three-month work placement at BizInsure headquarters in Oakland, California. BizInsure is a company that helps businesses with their insurance needs, so if you’re studying in a relevant field, it can be a great, on-brand internship for your resume.

Scholarship Website

18. The Donald White/Mandla A. Ndwanya Memorial Fund

Eligibility:

– 3.5 GPA

– Current or future enrollment in a U.S. university

– Majoring in education, science, medicine, social work or other selected disciplines

The Donald White/Mandla A. Ndwanya Memorial Fund is a cross-cultural scholarship between the U.S. and South Africa. Not only does it offer $1,000 for students to apply towards tuition, but it also funds trips and internships in Cape Town, South Africa. Anyone can apply, but preference will be given to underrepresented and first-gen students, especially those who are attending or applying to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Applicants should also be majors in pre-approved categories such as education and social work.

Scholarship Website

19. Laila Uthman Scholarship

Eligibility:

– High school senior at Oceana High School

– Has overcome significant personal challenges or adversity

The Laila Uthman Scholarship is limited to students at Oceana High School in Pacifica, California. If you qualify, however, you could be one of five lucky winners to receive $1,000. You can apply to any post-secondary institution, including community college or vocational school, and you can attend full- or part-time. There isn’t even an income cap. You just need to prove that you’ve overcome “significant” challenges to be where you are today.

Scholarship Website

20. The Miranda Scholarship

Eligibility:

– 2.5 GPA

– Current junior or senior

– Underrepresented, first-generation student

– Majoring in music, theater or dance

This one-of-a-kind scholarship is funded by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man behind the Broadway show “Hamilton.” It’s designed to help minorities, immigrants and other underrepresented students who have a passion for the arts. There’s a stringent application process, including an application, essay, interview, and audition, but the payoff is $5,000 for up to two years of school. Juniors and seniors are both encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to those who can demonstrate a clear financial need.

Scholarship Website

21. Walmart Foundation First-Generation Scholarship

Eligibility:

– 2.5 GPA

– High school senior

– U.S. citizen or permanent resident

– Low-income, first-generation student

– Attending a historically black college

– Recommended by a counselor

The Walmart Foundation First-Generation Scholarship is for minority students who are enrolling in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). It offers two $3,100 checks in the fall and spring semester for a total value of $6,200. In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements, applicants must answer the essay question, “What would it mean to you and your community to be the first person in your family to earn a college degree?”

Scholarship Website

22. University of Colorado First Generation Scholarship

Eligibility:

– Colorado resident

– Incoming freshman or transfer student

– First-generation college student

– Eligible for FAFSA

The First Generation Scholarship is offered by the University of Colorado. It offers $2,000 per year and is renewable through all four years of schooling as long as academic standards are continually met. There’s also a one-time stipend of an additional $2,000 for students who are living on campus as freshmen. Applicants must be first-generation and receiving FAFSA benefits. Transfer students are also eligible.

Scholarship Website

23. First Generation Civil Rights Fellowship

Eligibility:

– Current or aspiring college students

– First-generation students

As a collaborative effort between several advocacy groups and social justice firms, the First Generation Civil Rights Fellowship is ideal for young people who are passionate about change. It’s a ten-week program that includes a stipend and internship as well as networking, mentoring and social justice training opportunities. Underrepresented students are encouraged to apply, including women, minorities, LGBT individuals and people living with disabilities. Both current and aspiring college students are eligible for the program.

Scholarship Website

24. Gates Millennium Scholars Program

Eligibility:

– 3.3 GPA

– Racial minority

– Planning to enroll as a full-time, degree-seeking college student

Founded by Bill and Melinda Gates, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program is dedicated to underrepresented students who need financial assistance for college. Half of the recipients are first-gen, but it isn’t a requirement. Any racial minority living in a low-income household can qualify. Scholarship amounts vary depending on the student’s need and what isn’t already covered by financial aid, but their value is known to be substantial. Some students receive full rides.

Scholarship Website

25. UNCF Scholarships

Eligibility:

– Current or aspiring college students

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) gives and receives a lot of funding for scholarships, including first-generation scholarships. They offer more than $100 million to 10,000 students every year. Check out their searchable database for information on grants, scholarships, internships, and fellowship programs. You could qualify for everything from a merit-based stipend to a digital voucher program for textbooks.

Scholarship Website

26. Gloria and Joseph Mattera National Scholarship Fund for Migrant Children

Eligibility:

– Current or aspiring college students

– Migrant workers

One of the rare scholarships offered to high school dropouts or potential dropouts, the Gloria and Joseph Mattera National Scholarship Fund for Migrant Children is trying to keep young migrant workers in school. It offers $500 to immigrant or minority students with a background in farm or agricultural work. There are no GPA requirements, and you don’t have to be a U.S. citizen. As long as you’re a migrant worker who can prove financial need and a desire for an education, you’re eligible.

Scholarship Website

27. Jean DeGrace Crandall Memorial Scholarship

Eligibility:

– Mexican heritage

– Migrant workers

Another scholarship for migrant workers or the child of migrant workers, the Jean DeGrace Crandall Memorial Scholarship offers $2,000 to students who want to trade their tools for textbooks. Preference is given to agricultural workers out of Mexico who have settled in the New York counties of Ulster, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Rockland or Westchester. Both current and aspiring college students can apply.

28. Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Eligibility:

– Hispanic heritage

– 2.5 GPA (college students) or 3.0 GPA (high school students)

– Enrolling in a full-time, four-year degree program

– Eligible for FAFSA

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is offered to students of Hispanic/Latino descent. It’s fairly broad in terms of coverage; applicants can be high school, undergraduate or graduate students, and they can be pursuing a degree in any field. They just have to prove a financial need and be in good academic standing. Scholarship amounts can range from $500 to $5,000.

Scholarship Website

29. Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund

Eligibility:

– Female

– Low-income

– At least 35 years old

– Enrolled in an accredited university or vocational school

The Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund is for adult women who want to build better lives for themselves through education. The scholarship isn’t specifically for first-generation students, but they’re welcome to apply. They can pursue any degree or certification. The only requirement is that they’re older women living below the listed income limit. They can even be in a trade school rather than a traditional college.

Scholarship Website

30. Emerge Scholarship

Eligibility:

– Female

– Georgia resident

– At least 25 years old

– Low-income

The Emerge Scholarship is another scholarship for older or “non-traditional” students. It’s open to any woman living in Georgia who falls under certain income limits. Applicants will need to submit forms, transcripts, and letters of recommendation from colleagues or counselors. Scholarship amounts vary between $2,000 – $5,000.

Scholarship Website

31. First Graduate Program

Eligibility:

– Currently in the sixth grade

– Aspiring first-generation college student

While not technically a scholarship, the First Graduate Program serves the same purpose: to help students achieve their educational goals. With this program, however, first-gen youth receive a whopping 12 years of guidance. It starts when they’re in sixth grade and continues through their college graduation. They receive advice, opportunities, counseling, tutoring, career development, and standardized testing preparation. It’s a long-term program that can have far-reaching results.

Scholarship Website

32. Mission Graduates College Connect

Eligibility:

– 2.5 GPA

– California resident

– High school junior

– First-generation college student

College Connect is funded by Mission Graduates, a nonprofit educational organization in California. It’s another long-term program that tries to help with every aspect of student life, including financial aid, career opportunities, community support, and peer-to-peer workshops. High school juniors located in the Mission or Excelsior District of California are encouraged to apply.

Scholarship Website

33. Reality Changers College Apps Academy

Eligibility:

– Aspiring, first-generation college students

– Must be able to access San Diego headquarters or satellite Solana Beach location

Funded by a nonprofit called Reality Changers that works with students in 9th – 12th grade, the College Apps Academy provides everything from weekly tutoring sessions to college application advice. Many of its participants have won prestigious scholarships, including the Gates Millennium Scholarship. Any first-gen student in California can apply.

Scholarship Website

34. College Now Greater Cleveland

Eligibility:

– 2.5 GPA

– Ohio resident

– Interested in pursuing a four-year degree

There are two scholarships available from College Now Greater Cleveland. The first is a “traditional” scholarship aimed at high school seniors, and the second is an “adult learner” scholarship for students over the age of 19 who have been out of school for a year or more. The scholarships are worth anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 and are renewable through all four years of schooling. You must be a resident of Ohio to qualify.

Scholarship Website

35. Leadership 1000 Scholarship

Eligibility:

– 2.5 GPA

– High school senior

– Washington resident attending a Washington school

– Falls within a certain income bracket

– Has filed a FAFSA and WASFA

The Leadership 1000 Scholarship is a freshmen-to-senior scholarship for students living and studying in Washington. It’s worth $5,000 per year and is renewable through all four years of school, so its total value is $20,000. You’ll need to demonstrate financial need, including submitting documents about your family’s income, and that income can’t exceed a certain threshold. If you’re a struggling first-gen student, however, this scholarship could be just what you need to obtain a degree.

Scholarship Website

36. New Futures Scholars

Eligibility:

– Low-income

– 17 – 29 years old

– Graduated high school or obtained a GED

– Pursuing an associate’s degree or trade certification

– Resident of Maryland, Virginia or Washington D.C.

– Nominated by a New Futures community member

– Majoring in a New Futures discipline

If you’re a first-generation student who is considering community college rather than a four-year institution, you might qualify as a New Futures Scholar. It’s available to students in the Washington D.C. area who have already graduated high school and are looking into certifications or associate’s areas. You’ll need to meet several criteria, including a pre-approved major, but the payout can be up to $7,800.

Scholarship Website

37. Quest for Excellence New Americans Award

Eligibility:

– High school junior

– Immigrant or the child of immigrants

– Currently living in the U.S.

Sponsored by QuestBridge, a nonprofit educational group, the Quest for Excellence New Americans Award is given to first- and second-generation immigrants. It’s worth $1,000 and can be applied to test prep, online courses, application fees or educational tools like a new laptop. It also comes with automatic admission to the Pioneer Academics Research Program, an online opportunity for career development in the field of your choice.

Scholarship Website

38. Hertz Fellowship Application

Eligibility:

– Current college student

– Majoring in math, science or engineering

– Interested in pursuing a PhD

If you’re a first-generation college student with big dreams, consider the Hertz Fellowship Application. It’s a little more advanced than some of the scholarships on this list because it requires applicants to be pursuing a Ph.D., but if you’re studying in a STEM field that’s already getting expensive, this fellowship can be a real relief to your pocketbook.

Scholarship Website

39. Catawba Need-Based Scholarships

Eligibility:

– Current or aspiring students at Catawba College

– Eligible for FAFSA

Catawba Need-Based Scholarships are offered by Catawba College, a four-year institution in North Carolina. They provide a number of scholarships, including merit scholarships and major-based scholarships, but first-generation students should consider their need-based grants. These grants are specifically designed to cover the expenses that aren’t being met by a regular FAFSA.

Scholarship Website

40. Scholarship America Dream Award

Eligibility:

– 3.0 GPA

– At least 17 years old

– Completed one full year of college

– Demonstrates financial need

The Scholarship America Dream Award is for students who have already completed one year of college but need a little financial assistance to keep going. Payouts increase by $1,000 each year as an incentive to stay in school, so you could receive anywhere from $5,000 – $15,000 by the time that you’ve finished your degree. You’ll need to have a good academic record and a demonstrated financial need through FAFSA or other types of financial aid.

Scholarship Website

Know of a scholarship available specifically for first-gen students that we missed? Contact us at scholarships@greatvaluecolleges.net. We’re dedicated to providing accurate, up-to-date information about financial assistance for struggling students, which is why we’ve compiled this list of the best scholarships for first-generation college students.