20 Great Scholarships for First Generation College Students

Dreamers who’ve become the first in their immediate family to attend higher education can benefit greatly from scholarships for first generation college students.

According to the NCES, around one-third of incoming freshmen in America qualify as first generation. Receiving a college acceptance letter is a milestone to celebrate, but heading into uncharted academic territory is challenging. First generation students can’t rely on parents or siblings who’ve attended college for guidance through the admission, financial aid, and registration processes. That’s partially why their dropout rate is four times higher than second generation students. Nearly 90 percent of low-income, first generation students leave college without a diploma.

Reverse these harrowing statistics and make your degree quest successful with help from these 20 great first generation student scholarships.

Ranking Top Scholarships for First Generation College Students

1. Arnold White Memorial Scholarships

Deadline: March 15th

The Lincoln Community Foundation (LCF) provides three Arnold White Memorial Scholarships annually for up to $1,500 apiece to financially needy Nebraska high school seniors from Lyons, Fairbury, and Lincoln who need help to attend two- or four-year colleges. Priority is given to first generation college students with low expected family contribution (EFC). The three-page application must arrive with an official transcript, Student Aid Report, and two letters of recommendation.


Arnold White Memorial Scholarships

215 Centennial Mall Suite 100

Lincoln, NE 68508

(402) 474-2345


Scholarship Link

2. Carol A. Hurley Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: March 3rd

Valued at $1,000, the Carol A. Hurley Memorial Scholarship from the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) attracts over 80 applicants for two annual awards. Interested Vermonters graduating from high schools in Randolph, Rochester, Whitcomb, Windsor, and Woodstock who will be the first in their families to attend college can apply. Recipients must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better with full-time enrollment at Title IV-eligible institutions for renewal.


Carol A. Hurley Memorial Scholarship

10 East Allen Street

Winooski, VT 05404

(888) 253-4819


Scholarship Link

3. CESDA Diversity Scholarships

Deadline: July 1st

The Colorado Educational Services and Developmental Association (CESDA) gifts six Diversity Scholarships for $1,000 each to “Centennial State” residents who identify with racial minorities, are first generation college students, or have undocumented DACA status. Eligible Colorado high school seniors must be accepted at two- or four-year colleges, register for 6+ credits, carry an overall GPA of 2.8 or higher, actively volunteer for community service, and exhibit significant financial need.


CESDA Diversity Scholarships

P.O. Box 40214

Denver, CO 80204

(303) 492-8243


Scholarship Link

4. Cynthia E. Morgan Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: February 25th

Established in 2005, the Cynthia E. Morgan Memorial Scholarship awards $1,000 yearly to honor the Baltimore native whose life was tragically cut short by stomach cancer. It’s reserved for first generation college students who plan to attend accredited Maryland colleges to pursue medical-related professions. Acceptable majors include clinical laboratory science, nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dietetics, bioengineering, and public health. Applications are incomplete without a 500-word, typed personal goals essay.


Cynthia E. Morgan Memorial Scholarship

5516 Maudes Way

White Marsh, MD 21162


Scholarship Link

5. Dorrance Scholarship Programs

Deadline: February 8th

Named after Jacquie and Bennett Dorrance in 1999, the Dorrance Scholarship Programs are administered by the Arizona Community Foundation to support first generation college students financially. Recipients receive up to $12,000 annually to attend Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, or the University of Arizona. Eligibility criteria mandates graduating high school with a minimum 3.0 GPA, scoring at least 1040 on the SAT or 22 on the ACT, showing leadership in volunteer service, and participating in the Summer Bridge.


Dorrance Scholarship Programs

740 South Mill Avenue Suite 220

Tempe, AZ 85281

(480) 405-2410


Scholarship Link

6. Farash Foundation First in Family Scholarships

Deadline: None

The Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation has devoted $3.5 million to provide their First in Family Scholarships with full-tuition coverage for first generation college students to graduate debt-free. Since 2012, the program has helped youth from New York’s Monroe and Ontario counties whose parents didn’t earn a college education. Funding covers tuition, textbooks, and room and board at partnering institutions, including Nazareth College, SUNY Brockport, and the University of Rochester.


Farash Foundation First in Family Scholarships

255 East Avenue

Rochester, NY 14604

(585) 218-9855


Scholarship Link

7. Florida First Generation Matching Grant

Deadline: May 15th

Under Statue 1009.701, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) funds the First Generation Matching Grant (FGMG) to fulfill unmet need for students whose parents haven’t earned a baccalaureate degree. First-time freshmen must be U.S. citizens or eligible nationals, graduate from Florida high schools, be accepted at one of the “Sunshine State’s” 11 public state of 28 public community colleges, enroll in 6+ credits each semester, and not be in loan default.


Florida First Generation Matching Grant

325 West Gaines Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399

(888) 827-2004


Scholarship Link

8. Fontana Transport Inc. Scholarship

Deadline: March 15th

Committed to “Paving the road for college,” Fontana Transport Inc. initiated a $5,000 scholarship to assist, first generation students overcome financial obstacles to further their education. Interested candidates must be pursuing bachelor’s degrees in transportation, math, science, engineering, architecture, environmental design, psychology, or Spanish full-time at accredited U.S. schools. Even though United States citizenship isn’t required, recipients must carry a high weighted GPA of 3.5 or better.


Fontana Transport Inc. Scholarship

6599 Jacaranda Avenue

Fontana, CA 92336

(909) 357-4307


Scholarship Link

9. Frederick and Demi Seguritan Scholarship

Deadline: February 24th

The Frederick and Demi Seguritan Scholarship is one of 13 programs managed by the Asian Pacific Fund that’s bestowing $5,000 yearly for $20,000 total. Funding supports incoming full-time freshmen at accredited colleges who are first generation Asian immigrants, excelling with a cumulative GPA above 3.0, exhibiting outstanding citizenship, and pursuing their interests in business. Applications are accepted from select California counties, including San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and Solano.


Frederick and Demi Seguritan Scholarship

465 California Street Suite 809

San Francisco, CA 94104

(415) 395-9985


Scholarship Link

10. I’m First! Scholarship Program

Deadline: May 23rd

Strive for College hosts the I’m First! Scholarship Program annually to bestow four-year, $4,000 awards upon 10 graduating high school seniors who are becoming first generation college students at CSO-partnering institutions. There are currently 140 partners, including Northern Arizona University, Pepperdine University, Stetson University, Brandeis University, and Fordham University. Selection is based on students’ financial need, leadership experience, perseverance, community service, and blog writing skills rather than GPA.


I’m First! Scholarship Program

556 Valley Way

Milpitas, CA 95035

(949) 329-8291


Scholarship Link

11. J. Craig and Page T. Smith Scholarship

Deadline: February 5th

Founded by the Avondale Mills CEO with a $10 million endowment in 2004, the J. Craig and Page T. Smith Scholarship receives nearly 1,000 applications annually from primarily low-income, first generation college students across Alabama. The Foundation provides up to full tuition and room and board at select in-state institutions for graduating high school seniors who’ve faced personal challenges but excelled with a minimum “C+” average and ACT score of 17.


J. Craig and Page T. Smith Scholarship

400 Caldwell Trace

Birmingham, AL 35242

(205) 202-4076


Scholarship Link

12. Layton Family Foundation Scholarship

Deadline: March 15th

Created in Wayne Layton’s memory by the Community Foundation of Shelby County, the Layton Family Foundation Scholarship gifts $1,000 to first generation college students from western Ohio, including Sidney, Botkins, Kettlersville, Fort Loramie, and Lockington. Eligible high school seniors must plan to enroll full-time at accredited two- or four-year colleges, maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better, and write a 500-word personal essay.


Layton Family Foundation Scholarship

100 S. Main Avenue Suite 202

Sidney, OH 45365

(937) 497-7800


Scholarship Link

13. Meslow First Generation Scholarships

Deadline: None

The Minnesota Private College Council administers the Meslow First Generation Scholarships based on financial need to freshmen and sophomores from low- and modest-means families whose parents didn’t receive a college education. Qualified candidates must be United States citizens, be accepted at private institutions in the “North Star State,” hold a minimum 2.5 GPA, exhibit a history of community involvement, and have familial income under $50,000. Submitting an application isn’t necessary.


Meslow First Generation Scholarships

445 Minnesota Street Suite 500

St. Paul, MN 55101

(651) 228-9061


Scholarship Link

14. Norman and Pat Hayes Scholarship

Deadline: February 15th

Since 1976, the Middletown Community Foundation (MCF) has delivered over $33 million with Ohio scholarship funds, including the Norman and Pat Hayes Scholarship. Named for a Lemon-Monroe High School teacher and his wife, the program supports graduating seniors from Monroe County who will become the first in their immediate family to attend college. Chosen recipients must carry a minimum 2.5 GPA in grades 9-12 and matriculate full-time at four-year accredited colleges.


Norman and Pat Hayes Scholarship

200 N. Main Street Suite 300

Middletown, OH 45042

(513) 424-7369


Scholarship Link

15. Patty and Melvin Alperin First Generation Scholarship

Deadline: April 28th

The Rhode Island Foundation administers one of New England’s scholarships for first generation college students in honor of Patty and Mevlin Alperin. Offering $1,000, the renewable fund selects financially needy high school seniors across Rhode Island who are accepted into accredited two- or four-year U.S. institutions but their parents never obtained a college degree. Online applications are accepted every Spring with an official transcript, FAFSA form, and reference letter.


Patty and Melvin Alperin First Generation Scholarship

One Union Station

Providence, RI 02903

(401) 274-4564


Scholarship Link

16. Peter George Douvas Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: May 10th

First generation college students from immigrant families could benefit from the $500 Peter George Douvas Memorial Scholarship, which is administered by the Wyoming Department of Education each May. Funding can be applied at eight in-state institutions, including Casper College, Eastern Wyoming College, Sheridan College, and the University of Wyoming. To qualify, students must enroll full-time, apply for federal financial aid, have good academic standing, and demonstrate motivation to succeed.


Peter George Douvas Memorial Scholarship

2300 Capitol Avenue

Cheyenne, WY 82002

(307) 777-3469


Scholarship Link

17. TELACU College Success Program

Deadline: February 24th

Funded by The East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU) since 1983, the College Success Program offers $500 to $5,000 with one-on-one mentoring to first generation college students living in California, Texas, Illinois, and New York. Eligibility criteria requires being from a low-income household, attending an accredited U.S. college full-time, obtaining a minimum “B-” average, and participating in all mandatory Sessions. Priority is given to STEM and business majors.


TELACU College Success Program

5400 E. Olympic Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90022

(323) 721-1655


Scholarship Link

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18. UNCF/Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarships

Deadline: September 9th

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) partnered with Coca-Cola to provide 50 First Generation Scholarships of $5,000 for students attending the four member colleges in the Atlanta Metro: Spelman College, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, or Interdenominational Theological Center. Interested candidates must have unmet financial need, be the first in their immediate family to attend college full-time, carry a minimum 3.0 GPA without probation, and pursue their first bachelor’s degree.


UNCF/Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarships

1805 Seventh Street NW

Washington, DC 20001

(202) 810-0258


Scholarship Link

19. Walmart Foundation First Generation Scholarship

Deadline: June 1st

Worth $3,100 per semester or $6,200 total, the Walmart Foundation First Generation Scholarship is awarded by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) to minority college freshmen whose parents didn’t finish an undergraduate degree. Selected recipients will attend of the United States’ 47 public HBCUs, exhibit leadership ability, have unmet financial need on the FAFSA, possess a cumulative GPA surpassing 2.5, and be recommended by a high school counselor.


Walmart Foundation First Generation Scholarship

901 F Street NW Suite 300

Washington, DC 20004

(202) 507-4851


Scholarship Link

20. William D. and Ruth D. Roy Scholarship

Deadline: March 1st

The Oregon Student Assistance Corporation’s (OSAC) catalog features over 500 possible scholarships for first generation students, especially the William D. and Ruth D. Roy Scholarship. Receiving this $1,000 award involves graduating from high school, living in Oregon, enrolling at least half-time at Portland State University or Oregon State University, holding a 2.7 GPA or higher, and being the first in their family to pursue a degree. Preference is given to engineering and technology majors.


William D. and Ruth D. Roy Scholarship

1500 Valley River Drive Suite 100

Eugene, OR 97401

(541) 687-7422


Scholarship Link

First generation students lack prior exposure to a college campus, so additional resources are needed to ensure their success. That’s especially true financially since the majority of Gen-1 undergraduates come from families near the federal poverty level. The College Board reports that published yearly college tuition is $9,410 at public four-year and $32,410 at private four-year institutions in-state on average. Luckily, financial aid can significantly reduce your degree’s price tag. In addition to applying for these scholarships for first generation college students, file the FAFSA form to earn Federal Pell Grant and state grant funding.

GCD Staff


This concludes our coverage of top scholarships for first generation college students.