So, you’ve graduated high school and are considering what to do next. Deciding to attend college is a big deal, especially for first-generation college students.
Many factors go into earning a college degree, from motivation to finances, and it can be especially difficult for first-generation college students to figure out how to best pursue higher education.
Almost anyone planning to attend college or university has a few apprehensions, especially when it comes to paying for their college education. This is why we recommend looking into scholarships and scholarship programs.
Since there are so many scholarships designed specifically for first-generation college students, applying and being granted the scholarships is easier than ever. Read on to learn where to find and secure the best first-generation college student scholarships.
What Is a First-Generation College Student?
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If none of your grandparents or parents have completed a bachelor’s degree, you would be considered the first generation of your family to attend college. This applies if you are an undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s degree and will continue to apply to your situation through your college education. You can certainly earn a PhD as a first-generation college student.
You have likely heard the term first-generation student before, but no one ever takes the time to explain what it means. For those who don’t know if they are considered first-generation college students, ask yourself one question: Have any of your immediate family members attended college?
Should You Apply for First-Generation College Student Scholarships?
Whether you plan to attend a state university or community college, you may be eligible for first-generation college student scholarships. Scholarships are available for any student, undergraduate or graduate, and are an extremely useful form of student assistance.
One of the most common types of scholarships is for first-generation students, and if you are one, you should start applying.
Why You Should Apply for Scholarships
It is very common knowledge that college in the United States is expensive. Almost every day we see news, social media posts, and memes about student loans. With the average college student paying almost $33,000 for a four-year degree, it is easy to see the importance of applying for scholarships and other financial aid.
So, for all of the academic achievers out there who don’t have $33,000 lying around, applying for scholarships is extremely important. The more you apply for the better.
It can be difficult to earn full-ride scholarships, but if you can secure other scholarships, you should be able to cover the majority of your college tuition with them.
The Best Scholarships for First-Generation College Students
There are so many different scholarships out there to apply for, but as a first-generation student, one of the best bets is to apply for first-generation college student scholarships. Since these scholarships are designated to be used only by first-generation college students, there is less competition to earn them.
Since there are so many college scholarships available, we were not able to list all of them. However, these are a few of our favorite resources for first-generation college students to check out and apply for.
Pell Grants are one of the most common forms of student financial aid. As most high schoolers will know, teachers push all graduating students to begin applying for Pell Grants as soon as possible. But, these are grants that can be earned by anyone, not just fresh high school graduates.
To qualify for a Pell Grant, you must first apply for the FAFSA. By applying for the FAFSA, you are not only opening the door for potential Pell Grants, but all different types of government financial aid.
After applying for the FAFSA, you will have to wait for a few weeks, and will eventually be notified of how many grants (including Pell Grants), loans, and even work studies you are eligible for. Then, you get to decide how many you want to apply for.
Through the Telacu Education Foundation, you can apply to become a member of the College Success Program. Scholarships for men and women in STEM are always awesome and this program is dedicated to the success of young college students going into STEM-field majors and offers much more than simply financial assistance.
If you are accepted into the College Success Program, you will have access to help in academic, leadership, personal, and professional development, as well as college advisement, career guidance, internship opportunities, and so much more to help you through college.
The Telacu Education Foundation College Success Program will choose to award you anything between $500 and $5,000, depending on how well you meet the criteria. In order to continue receiving your awarded financial aid, you will have to renew the award every year.
For reward renewal, you will have to maintain a GPA of 2.75 or higher, be enrolled as a full-time student, complete 20 volunteer hours, attend all meetings and sessions considered a part of the program, and participate in a renewal interview after submitting your application.
Offered by the Coca Cola corporation, this scholarship is not only for first-generation students, but there is an emphasis on awarding the scholarship to such students. Every year, typically in October or November, thousands of eligible students apply for the Coca Cola scholarship and 150 are chosen as recipients.
These recipients each receive a $20,000 scholarship from Coca Cola, which covers around 60 percent of an average four-year degree program.
To apply for this scholarship, there are a few requirements you have to meet. First of all, you must be a high school student. High school graduates, no matter how recent, are not eligible for this scholarship.
However, as a student, you must be set to graduate within the academic year of which you apply. Of course, you must also be a United States citizen or someone who falls into the guidelines set forth by the United States Department of Education for Federal Financial Aid. Finally, you must not be a current employee, or the child or grandchild of a current Coca Cola employee.
The Golden Door Scholarship is truly unique as it paves the way for undocumented youth to seek higher education. This scholarship is only available to those who are not United States citizens and are instead DACA or TPS benefits.
Any other international students who are in the United States and undocumented are also welcome to apply. Even those with a visa are encouraged to reach out and discuss possibilities with an advisor.
To apply for this scholarship, you will need a few things. First, you will want to take some time to browse through the Golden Door’s partner schools. These are the only schools that will honor the scholarship, so it is important to ensure one or more of the schools is a good match for you.
After that, you will need to submit your high school transcripts, your class rank and size, documentation of any leadership or extracurricular activities you participated in, and an essay.
The Hertz Foundation offers access to the Hertz Foundation Fellowship, which is a fantastic opportunity for so much more than just financial aid. As a member of this fellowship, you will have access to lifelong professional support, mentoring, and workshops with like-minded peers.
This fellowship is specifically meant for those pursuing graduate degrees in science and technology, and works wonders for first-generation college students. In order to score membership in the Hertz Foundation Fellowship and its whopping five years (roughly $250,000) of financial support, you’ll need to meet a few eligibility requirements.
You must be either a college senior, in your first year of graduate school, or finishing a gap year. You are also required to be a United States citizen or permanent resident, and you must intend to pursue a PhD in science or technology. This is definitely one of the best options for first-generation graduate school scholarships.
If You Demonstrate Financial Need, Look to First-Generation College Student Scholarships
Here at Career Karma, we totally understand that everyone follows a different education and career path. But, we believe that everyone can benefit from applying for scholarships.
If you are a first-generation college student, scholarships can easily become your saving grace when making your way toward your degree. While it may take some time to apply to different scholarships, it will be worth it in the end.
Whether you choose to go for straightforward financial aid or the membership of a program or fellowship, you are sure to reap the benefits of first-generation college student scholarships in no time. College is often an uphill battle, and while financial aid may not solve all your problems, it can relieve a great deal of stress. For many, this is what makes college possible in the first place.
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