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First in Family Scholarships

Being the first person in your family to go to college is a true accomplishment - especially since it can be much harder to navigate the college application process without someone who has been through the experience to show you the way. Fortunately, these students are eligible for first-generation scholarships to reward them for their persistence. Read below to learn how first-generation scholarships work, where to find them and how to apply for them.


What is a first in family scholarship?

First in family scholarships or “first-generation” scholarships prioritize students whose parents did not attend or graduate from college. Organizations that distribute these awards realize that these students are at a disadvantage compared to students who come from a long line of college graduates and attendees.

These families may not have the resources to help their child succeed. They also may be less familiar with the college application and financial aid process. These scholarship providers want to give first-generation students a leg up so they’re on an even playing field. And because first-generation students are more likely to drop out than those who's parents have been to college, these scholarships may be more likely to encourage them to keep going.

How to apply for a first in family scholarship

There are a significant number of first in family scholarships in our scholarship database. When you create a profile and conduct a free scholarship search at Scholarships.com you will be automatically matched to any for which you qualify. Be sure to keep track of those you like the best, have applied for or won.

If you prefer to use our directory, you can specifically search for awards designed for first in family college students. There are dozens of scholarships that fit this demographic. As you do your research, create a spreadsheet listing each award, the due date, the amount, essay requirements and if you need a recommendation letter. Prioritize the awards that you feel confident are the most suited to you.

Start asking for recommendation letters a few weeks before you need them. Bear in mind that the person you are asking may be busy, so try to give whomever you ask a few weeks’ notice to allow them sufficient time to write you a letter of recommendation that will really help your cause.

If you have to write an essay, remember that you are also busy and give yourself enough time to write a rough draft and have it proofread by someone who you consider to be an excellent reader and eloquent speaker. This could be anyone from a parent or other relative to an English teacher at your school.

Frequently Asked Questions about First-Generation Students

What are the best scholarships for first-generation students?

The Kim and Harold Louie Family Foundation Scholarship Program is not just for first-generation students, but does prioritize them in their application pool. Applicants must be enrolling in their first year of college, but do not have to currently be high school seniors.

The Dr. Jason and Nicole Green African American First-Generation College Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship given to an African-American student who is the first in their family to attend college. Many colleges have their own first-generation scholarships. Ask the financial aid department if there are any such opportunities available.

Am I a first-generation student if my parents went to college abroad?

If you are the child of an immigrant who attended college in their home country, you may still be considered a first-generation student in the US. However, if your parents went back to school in the States, then you may no longer be a first-generation student.

What other types of financial aid are first-generation students eligible for?

First-generation students may be eligible for federal and state grants, but they will have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered. They may also qualify for subsidized federal loans, which do not accrue interest while in school and during any deferment periods. Completing the FAFSA can also help you be eligible for more awards through your school. Contact the financial aid department if you’re having trouble completing the FAFSA.

What other kinds of scholarships are first-generation students eligible for?

First-generation students who are part of a minority group should also apply for scholarships related to their race, ethnicity or other distinguishing factor. For example, there are many Hispanic scholarships, African-American scholarships or LGBTQ scholarships.

Also, if you're a single parent going to school, you can look for awards available for those households. Brainstorm every unique quality you have and try to find awards that fit those characteristics. Even if a scholarship is not explicitly for first-generation students, you should still mention it in the essay portion. This may help you stand out among other applicants.

Am I still first-generation if my parents attended vocational or trade school?

In general, having a parent who attended or graduated from vocational or trade school does not disqualify you from being a first-generation student. If you are not certain, it is a good idea to ask the scholarship provider if you meet the eligibility requirements. In some cases, having a sibling who has already attended or graduated college may disqualify you. This depends on the specific scholarship provider and their definition of a first-generation student.

Explore more scholarship categories

Forward Freethought First in the Family Humanist Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 6/23/2023
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Six $5000 scholarships will be awarded to graduating high school seniors (ONLY) of color (African American, Latinx, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American) who identify as agnostic, atheist, humanist, freethinker and/or secular. Students who are (or have been) in foster care, homeless, undocumented, disabled and/or LGBTQI+ are encouraged to apply. We are committed to promoting the work of black [...] More

Stantec Equity & Diversity Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 10/14/2023
  • Amount: $10,000
  • The Stantec Equity & Diversity Scholarship will contribute to the creation of a critical mass of talented students that will fully represent our industry—it will provide an environment in which all can thrive academically and professionally. Through this scholarship, Stantec will award $200,000 annually. We believe everyone has a right to education, and we are committed to providing people in [...] More

Second Chances Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 11/30/2023
  • Amount: $1,500
  • The Lagman Foundation grants scholarships to a new generation of diversely talented high school students who have overcome adversity, given back to their communities, and demonstrated a commitment to turning their life around through an interest in academic or creative pursuits. The Foundation identifies and rewards high school seniors who have experienced hardship, and then demonstrated [...] More

California Hispanic Education Endowment Fund (HEEF)

  • Application Deadline: 12/31/2023
  • Amount: $2,500
  • The Hispanic Education Endowment Fund (HEEF) shares your dream of a college education. We offer a wide range of scholarships for students working to fulfill their educational goals. HEEF welcomes students who are undocumented. The HEEF Scholarship Program considers applicants based on a combination of financial need, academic achievement and involvement in extracurricular activities, community [...] More

Benjamin and Patricia Allen Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 1/10/2024
  • Amount: Varies
  • To be eligible for the Benjamin and Patricia Allen Scholarship, applicants shall be enrolled in the Ivy College of Business full-time. Preference shall be given to first generation students which is defined as a student whose parents have not graduated from an institute of higher education with a four-year degree. This scholarship shall be made available to undergraduate students. This [...] More

Clarkston Scholars Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 1/13/2024
  • Amount: $10,000
  • The mission of the Clarkston Scholars program is to create equitable access and opportunities for low-income, first-generation college students with the intention of developing a future Clarkston steward. To be eligible, applicant must be a sophomore at one of Clarkston's Core Schools (University of Michigan, Babson College, UNC Chapel Hill, NC State, Georgia Tech, Agnes Scott College, Spelman [...] More

U of A Tuscaloosa Coca-Cola First-Generation Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 1/15/2024
  • Amount: $20,000
  • The University of Alabama understands that each student’s path to and through higher education is unique. The Capstone Center for Student Success is home to the First Generation Scholarship Programs that serve a diverse group of students across a wide range of academic, social, and economic backgrounds. Our First Generation Scholarship Programs are highly competitive and a limited number of [...] More

Fund for Education Abroad Scholarships

  • Application Deadline: 1/18/2024
  • Amount: $10,000
  • FEA’s Access Partners join in the shared commitment to increase the number of underrepresented American college students studying abroad through the provision of scholarships. As members of the FEA Access Advisory Board (AAB), our Access Partners collaborate, share best practices in international education, and actively engage in FEA’s mission. They are helping to make life-changing, [...] More

Dorrance Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 2/1/2024
  • Amount: $48,000
  • The Dorrance Scholarship for first-generation students is a need-based award providing financial and academic support for Arizona high school graduates pursuing an undergraduate degree at one of Arizona’s public universities. The award is renewable for a total of eight semesters (four years) of funding. Applicants must be high school seniors who are Arizona residents, first-generation college [...] More

Carol A. Hurley Memorial Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 2/15/2024
  • Amount: $1,000
  • To be eligible for the Carol A. Hurley Memorial Scholarship, applicants must: be a high school senior who will graduate from an eligible school (preference is given to applicants who are among the first generation in their families to attend college); be pursuing an undergraduate degree; be enrolled full-time; have a 2.5 GPA; demonstrate financial need; demonstrate school/community involvement; [...] More

VSAC Taigh Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 2/15/2024
  • Amount: $1,000
  • The Taigh Scholarship was established to inspire and encourage residents of Peacham to pursue a post-secondary education, especially among rural students who may be the first in their families to attend college. Applicants must attend an accredited school approved for federal Title IV funding (Pell grants, Stafford loans, PLUS loans); reside in Caledonia County and demonstrate financial need and [...] More

David C. Lizárraga Fellowship

  • Application Deadline: 2/26/2024
  • Amount: Varies
  • Through The David C. Lizárraga Fellowship, TELACU recognizes graduate students who demonstrate the potential and commitment to advance TELACU's mission of building self-sufficient communities through economic empowerment. Applicants must be a first-generation college student, pursuing a master's degree in business administration or engineering (students pursuing other graduate degrees may also be [...] More

TELACU College Success Program

  • Application Deadline: 2/28/2024
  • Amount: $5,000
  • The College Success Program is funded by TELACU and the generous contributions of our partners—corporations, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations and individuals—who have joined us over the past 35 years in advancing educational opportunities for our community. Because TELACU believes that the future leaders of our community must be engaged in meaningful careers that will change [...] More

Red Thread Foundation Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 2/28/2024
  • Amount: $1,000
  • We are a group of women from diverse corners of the world, ranging from Europe to Africa, from Asia to Latin America. We represent former international students, immigrants, and first generation Americans who have benefitted tremendously from the academic and professional support we have received. Now, we are eager to extend mentorship and scholarship support to women who draw strength from a [...] More

SVCF Krishnan-Shah Family Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 2/28/2024
  • Amount: $40,000
  • The Krishnan-Shah Family Scholarship was established by Ajay Shah, Lata Krishnan and their family. This scholarship program seeks to support financially needy students with academic potential and demonstrated community involvement, and provide meaningful and ongoing financial support to ensure that students complete their undergraduate degree. The scholarship is renewable for up to four [...] More

Hendrick Scholarship Foundation

  • Application Deadline: 3/3/2024
  • Amount: $15,000
  • Having financial access to college does not guarantee success in college. To support our students, we provide ongoing guidance and assistance throughout their time in college. Students are awarded scholarships up to a maximum total of $15,000. Scholarship amount per semester varies based on GPA and credits, as well as whether the student starts at Collin College or a 4-year university. A typical [...] More

Thomas D. Urmston Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 3/6/2024
  • Amount: $12,000
  • The Thomas D. Urmston scholarship was established to provide scholarships to female students who are graduating high school seniors attending Harrison County High School who demonstrate significant financial need and have a cumulative GPA 3.0 or higher. Preference is given to first-generation college students. This provides an award of $3,000 that is renewable for up to four years of [...] More

King-Barton Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 3/6/2024
  • Amount: Varies
  • The King-Barton scholarship was established to provide scholarships to graduating high school seniors attending Harrison County High School who demonstrate significant financial need and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Preference is given to first-generation college student. This scholarship is non-renewable and the award amount varies each year. Other than that, this scholarship doesn't [...] More

Emma E. Buckley Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 3/6/2024
  • Amount: $10,000
  • The Emma E. Buckley Scholarship was established in honor of Emma E. Buckley, a long-time philanthropist in Kentucky. This renewable scholarship is awarded to high school seniors attending Woodford County High School and Fayette County Public Schools who demonstrate significant financial need. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Preference is given to first-generation college [...] More

W.O. Davis Memorial Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 3/6/2024
  • Amount: Varies
  • The W.O. Davis Memorial scholarship was established to provide scholarships to graduating high school seniors attending Woodford County High School who demonstrate significant financial need and have a cumulative GPA 3.0 or higher. Preference is given to a first-generation college student. This is a non-renewable scholarship and the award amount varies each year.

    Blue Grass Community [...] More

Jane Allen Newman Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 3/6/2024
  • Amount: $10,000
  • The Jane Allen Newman Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to high school seniors in Fayette, Harrison, or Union counties with significant financial need who wish to further pursue their education by attending college. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0. Preference given to first-generation college students. The scholarship is renewable for up to four years of undergraduate [...] More

Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program

  • Application Deadline: 3/14/2024
  • Amount: $5,000
  • The Fontana Transport Inc Scholars Program is for first generation high school seniors who are underrepresented, need financial assistance and are passionate about furthering their education as a means to help out their family, community and themselves. We want to be able to find, sponsor, and guide leaders who are determined to succeed by all means possible regardless of their struggles, lack of [...] More

Arnold White Memorial Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 3/15/2024
  • Amount: $8,000
  • To apply, you must be a current graduating senior or former graduate from high schools in the communities of Lincoln, Lyons, or Fairbury in Nebraska, planning to attend any qualified, nonprofit 2- or 4-year college/university. The applicant must meet minimum standards for institutional admission; however, need not excel academically or maintain a specific grade point average. Preference will be [...] More

University of Colorado-Boulder First-Generation Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 3/15/2024
  • Amount: $32,000
  • The First Generation Scholarship is awarded to undergraduate residents and nonresidents who have financial need and whose parent(s) or legal guardians do not have a bachelor's degree. During the first year, recipients are required to participate in the First Generation Scholars Program, offered through the Center for Inclusion & Social Change.

    Applicants must be incoming first-year resident [...] More

Hatfield Foundation Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 3/15/2024
  • Amount: $5,000
  • The Hatfield Foundation Scholarship is a program for first-generation college students and provides a $5,000 scholarship along with educational resources and mentoring to recipients. Applicants must be a graduating high school senior who is applying to 4 year colleges. Neither parent holds a bachelor's degree or higher; applicant must be first in family to attend college. Must have a minimum 2.5 [...] More

Frederick and Demi Seguritan Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 3/20/2024
  • Amount: $5,000
  • The Frederick and Demi Seguritan Scholarship is offered to first generation Asian Americans who have a demonstrated interest in business (business major not required). Eligible applicants must be an incoming freshman enrolled full-time at an accredited four-year college/university with a minimum 3.0 GPA and must be able to demonstrate financial need. Must also be a resident of Alameda, Contra [...] More

OCA Gold Mountain Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 3/31/2024
  • Amount: $2,000
  • The title of this scholarship program calls back to a time when many Asian immigrants looked upon America as a mountain of golden opportunities for themselves and their families. Awardees of the scholarship seek dreams of higher education, which are not only the dreams of the students but also of their parents and extended family. This year, 15 first-gen AAPI high school seniors will be awarded [...] More

OCA-UPS Gold Mountain Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 3/31/2024
  • Amount: $2,000
  • OCA offers scholarships for graduating high school seniors, rising college seniors, and students pursuing a Masters in Public Administration. Founded in 1973, OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates is a 501(c)(3) national member-driven nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. with 50+ chapters and affiliates across the U.S. For almost 50 years, OCA-Asian Pacific Americans has been dedicated to advancing [...] More

Balkhi Foundation Higher Education Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 4/15/2024
  • Amount: $1,000
  • The Balkhi Foundation Higher Education Scholarship seeks to help talented young people make college more attainable through a $1000 scholarship. These ten annual renewable awards are granted to exceptional high school seniors accepted to a US-based college or university who demonstrate a financial need. An ideal applicant for a Balkhi Foundation Scholarship is a student who has shown dedication [...] More

NCJWLA Jeffrey A. Tidus Scholarship For Healthcare Professionals

  • Application Deadline: 4/15/2024
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Applicants for the Jeffrey A. Tidus Scholarship for Healthcare Professionals must be accepted to or enrolled in a post-graduate program in the healthcare field (Nursing, Physician Assistant, MD, DO, Mental Healthcare worker). Special consideration will be given to students who are the first generation in their families to attend college. In order to apply students, must: Currently be enrolled or [...] More

Dolores Bush Scuderi and Richard J. Scuderi Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 5/1/2024
  • Amount: Varies
  • To be eligible for the Dolores Bush Scuderi and Richard J. Scuderi Scholarship, applicants must: be an undergraduate or graduate student enrolling at any Penn State campus; demonstrate superior academic success; demonstrate financial need, as determined by the FAFSA; and be in good standing, as determined by the Office of Judicial Affairs. Preference is for first generation students (i.e., first [...] More

Jeffery Isaiah David Memorial Foundation Education Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 5/5/2024
  • Amount: Varies
  • Each year, the Jeffery Isaiah David Memorial Foundation will award scholarships to graduating high school seniors and those already enrolled, seeking to continue their higher educational goals. The scholarships are allocated for the current school year and must be utilized to assist with expenses related to attending college, vocational, or trade school of their choice, for tuition, fees, and/or [...] More

Central California Asian Pacific Women Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: 5/14/2024
  • Amount: Varies
  • Central California Asian Pacific Women (CCAPW) scholarships are available for the coming academic year. The scholarships provide financial assistance to Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women pursuing higher education who are from Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, or Tulare County.

    Applications will be evaluated based on the following priorities but not limited to: [...] More

For A Bright Future Scholarship Programs

  • Application Deadline: 5/31/2024
  • Amount: $10,000
  • For A Bright Future provides annual scholarships to underserved students with outstanding achievement and the drive to pursue higher education in select fields. Students have the opportunity to receive one scholarship per year. They are granted upon assessment of need and university selection. The average award amount is $2,500. The maximum amount is $10,000. Applicants must be minority high [...] More

Women With Promise Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Amount: $5,000
  • The Women With Promise Scholarship Program offers North Texas women the opportunity to begin or restart their journey toward a college degree. Support is available for full or part-time students from Dallas and Collin counties attending or planning to attend educational programs at accredited institutions of higher learning in Dallas or Collin counties. Also, they must have a nonprofit [...] More

Colorado Mesa University's First Generation Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Amount: $4,000
  • The Colorado Mesa University First Generation Scholarship is an annual scholarship for those students that meet the following criteria: be an incoming freshmen student whose parents have not graduated with a four-year degree, or a first-year student may have up to 24 accepted credit hours from another institution not including credits earned during high school. Completing an additional [...] More

Texas A&M University Regents' Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Amount: $24,000
  • First awarded in Fall 2004, the Regents' Scholarship is designed to assist first-generation college students in achieving their educational goals at Texas A&M University. To be considered for the Regents’ Scholarship, you must be: admitted as a freshman to Texas A&M University College Station; be a first-generation college student (neither parent has earned a bachelor’s degree); come from a [...] More

Rhode Island College Miranda Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Amount: Varies
  • Thanks to the generosity of our community of donors, the Rhode Island College Foundation can offer an array of scholarships to help our students pay for their education. These scholarships are endowed, which means they provide a source of permanent funding for student support. We are a regional leader in performing and fine arts education. These scholarships are available to students interested [...] More

New York University AnBryce Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Amount: $232,672
  • Scholarships and grants are types of financial aid you don’t have to pay back. NYU offers or recognizes many scholarship options, including programs for new students, current NYU undergraduates, and scholarships from outside sources. The AnBryce Scholarship is awarded to academically-motivated students who demonstrate financial need and who are the first generation in their family to attend [...] More

University of Florida Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars

  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Amount: Varies
  • The Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program boldly reimagines the first-generation student experience by providing transformative access, comprehensive scholarships, and elite support programs. The Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program provides financial resources and individual support with the primary goal of graduating first generation, low-income undergraduate students. By [...] More

Last Reviewed: June 2023

First in Family Scholarships

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