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Scholarships for First-Generation College Students

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What’s Covered:


First-generation students are students who are the first in their family to attend college. As a result of being the first to go to college, some of these students may have increased financial burdens or a relative lack of familiarity with the college applications process.


In this post, we’ll share some scholarships for first-gen students, plus our tips for finding more opportunities and financing your college education!


Scholarships for First-Gen Students


1. Bold.org: The First-Generation College Students Scholarship 


Amount: $500

Deadline: August 2, 2021

Eligibility: high school senior or current undergraduate student

Application Requirements: create a free account on Bold.org 


The First-Generation College Students Scholarship is a $500 award for any highly talented first-generation student. Applicants can be high school seniors or current undergraduate students with any GPA. The application is quick and easy.


2. The David C. Lizárraga Fellowship


Amount: demonstrated need

Deadline: unspecified

Eligibility: current undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Business or Engineering

Application Requirements: create a free account on Bold.org 


Applicants to this scholarship must be pursuing an advanced degree, and priority is given to those pursuing a degree in Business or Engineering. Winners of this award will exhibit “outstanding leadership potential, a remarkable record of professional/extracurricular achievement, commitment to the development and economic empowerment of communities.”


While the amount of the award is not specified, in order to win, students must demonstrate financial need.


3. The Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program


Amount: $5,000

Deadline: March of each year

Eligibility: high school senior

Application Requirements: create a free account on the Fontana Transport Scholars portal


The Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program awards $5,000 to first-generation students with at least a 3.5 weighted GPA. The scholarship places a priority on choosing applicants who have demonstrated leadership and community engagement. Applicants must be planning to study one of the eligible nine concentrations, which include: 


  • Transportation Management
  • Math
  • Science
  • Engineering ( Any field of engineering)
  • Architecture
  • Environmental Design
  • Pre-Med
  • Psychology
  • Spanish Language/Literature

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4. The Kim and Harold Louie Family Foundation


Amount: $5,000

Deadline: March 15, 2021

Eligibility: high school senior

Application Requirements: none


The Louie Family Foundation provides need-based scholarships which are drawn from a fund of approximately $100,000. Though every accepted student receives a different scholarship award, the amount is designed to cater to their unique circumstances. The scholarship targets students who, despite having a large financial need, excelled academically and outside of the classroom. 


5. The McKelvey Foundation


Amount: $12,000

Deadline: unspecified 

Eligibility: high school senior

Application Requirements: create a free account on the McKelvey Foundation website 


The McKelvey Foundation gives out 125 different $12,000 scholarships to high school seniors that will be the first in their family to attend college. The award is specifically for students that will attend a four-year college in their home state, so keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to apply. 


6. Mercedes-Benz Drive Your Future Scholarship


Amount: $2,000

Deadline: March 16, 2021

Eligibility: high school senior

Application Requirements: create a free account on the MBUSI Scholarship website 


This scholarship gives preference to students who have shown triumph over adversity, and who come from underprivileged backgrounds. There are 10 scholarship awards given each year of up to $2000.


7. TELACU College Success Program


Amount: $500-5,000

Deadline: unspecified

Eligibility: high school senior

Application Requirements: create a free account on the TELACU Scholarship website 


The TELACU College Success Program gives awards that range from $500 to $5,000. Priority for the awards is given to STEM majors, and students who win the award will also receive career guidance and mentorship.   


8. QuestBridge National College Match


Amount: up to 100% of financial need

Deadline: December 12, 2021

Eligibility: high school senior

Application Requirements: create a free account on the QuestBridge website 


QuestBridge’s National College Match is more than a single scholarship. QuestBridge offers low-income high school seniors a customized application process to help them navigate the admissions process of America’s most coveted universities. 


In addition to providing an application portal, QuestBridge also offers four-year scholarships to selected applicants. It should be noted that while it is not required for applicants to be first-generation students, the program is geared towards first-generation or low-income students 


QuestBridge offers its National College Match scholarship at 40 select colleges and universities across the U.S. The scholarship pays for the full cost of tuition, room and board, transportation expenses, and textbooks—for the most part directly, though some students may receive scholarship packages which require small student contributions earned via Federal Work Study.


9. CollegeVine Scholarships


Amount: Up to $500

Deadline: Weekly

Eligibility: high school student and US resident

Application Requirements: create a free CollegeVine account 


CollegeVine provides weekly scholarships of up to $500! All you have to do is join our free admissions platform and earn karma, the free CollegeVine “currency”. You can earn karma by reviewing essays through our Peer Review tool and answering questions in our Community Forums. After earning that karma, you bid it to enter the scholarship drawing (if you don’t win, that karma will be returned, where you can “spend” it on essay reviews and expert advice). Awards will be paid out directly to students to help them cover any educational costs. Learn more about the CollegeVine scholarships.


Where to Find More Scholarships for First-Gen Students


Keep in mind that the best place to get scholarships is from the colleges themselves, as they have the most money to give. Consider applying to schools that meet 100% demonstrated financial need, as they offer generous financial aid, making private colleges cheaper than in-state public universities for some families (some students may even pay nothing). Also consider schools that give out the most merit aid, which is based on your academic and extracurricular achievements.


Keep in mind that some individual colleges or groups might have scholarships available for first-generation students as well, so check with the groups you are associated with or on the college websites! Lastly, some regional scholarships are available, which have the least competition.


See our blog for more advice about scholarships and financial aid.

Short Bio
The college applications process is all about responding to one question: who are you? I am passionate about helping students craft a creative answer. I have been helping students gain admission to the T25 schools of their dreams since 2018. Soon after graduating from Georgetown University with a B.A. in History and minors in French and Russian, I made college advising my career. I currently mentor students through one-on-one consulting sessions, blog posts, and admissions livestreams, in addition to tutoring in humanities subjects. When I am not advising, you can probably find me taking a road trip or reading a novel in French.