Learn & Earn: First Generation College Students


How many of you know what the term “first generation college student” means?  And how many of you know that being an official first generation college student qualifies you for special scholarships to college and lots of additional benefits while you are at college?  Basically, designation as  a first generation college student ROCKS!  But what exactly is a first generation college student?  Well, it depends…

The US Department of Education considers a first generation college student to meet this criteria:

(a) An individual both of whose parents did not complete a bachelor’s degree
(b) In the case of any individual who regularly resided with and received support from only one parent, an individual whose only such parent did not complete a bachelor’s degree.

The National Center for Education Statistics defines first-generation students as:

undergraduates whose parents never enrolled in postsecondary education.

Utah State University defines first generation students as:

neither one of the student’s parents has graduated from a four-year institution of higher education.  First generation students at USU are eligible for additional services as well as scholarships.

But it’s always best to check a particular school’s understanding of first generation. If only one of your parents attended college, you may not be considered a first-generation college applicant. However, if you have a sibling who attended college, and your parents did not, in most cases you will be considered a first-generation student.

If you think you might qualify as a first generation college student, check the requirements at the school you are applying to…you will probably be eligible for additional scholarships, funding, and services at the college.  In 2014, THS had two first generation students awarded scholarships from USU, but there were many more that were eligible.

For additional tips for first generation college applicants, read this New York Times article written by Dr. Michele Hernandez, and make sure you take her advice:

If a college representative is visiting your high school for an information session, use the opportunity to meet the representative and identify yourself as a first-generation student. This will help you build personal connections and may lead to personalized support during your college admissions process.


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