Scholarships for First-Generation Students

First-generation college students have a few opportunities for scholarships to benefit their college experience. Listed in this article are a few programs for potential students to consider.

first-generation college student financial awards

Scholarships for First-Generation Students

Almost half of first-generation college students - those whose parents haven't earned college degrees - fail to graduate. Financial challenges in particular can make college difficult to get through. Fortunately some relief exists in the form of scholarships. In addition to various state- and institution-sponsored opportunities, several national organizations offer financial awards intended to help first-generation students graduate from college. Here are a few opportunities.

Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship Program

The Coca-Cola Company offers scholarships of up to $5,000 per year to first-generation students who are pursuing a bachelor's degree. To be eligible, applicants must have a grade point average of 3.0 or better, a record of community service and a demonstrated financial need. This financial award is renewable for four years provided a recipient maintains a 3.0 GPA in college. While not all institutions honor this scholarship from Coca-Cola, some 400 U.S. colleges and universities do - including most major institutions.

Walmart Foundation and TMCF First-Generation Scholarship Program

Walmart and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) combine their efforts to award merit scholarships of $6,200 to first-generation students who demonstrate a financial need. Eligible applicants must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and be recommended by a scholarship coordinator from one of the 47 Thurgood Marshall College Fund-approved historically black colleges and universities. Recipients are selected in part based on leadership qualities, neighborhood service and extracurricular activities.

First in My Family Scholarship Program

First-generation Hispanic-American college students are eligible for joint scholarships of between $500 and $5,000 from the Sallie Mae Fund and the Hispanic College Fund. In addition to proving their Hispanic-American heritage, students must also be able to show that they are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents with a demonstrated financial need. To be considered, applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA and be enrolled full time in an undergraduate program at a qualifying postsecondary institution.

Buick Achievers Scholarship Program

While this scholarship program is not available exclusively to first-generation college students, special consideration is given to those whose parents have not earned a postsecondary degree. Sponsored by the GM Foundation, this financial award of up to $25,000 is available to high school seniors and college undergrads majoring in technology, engineering, math, business, finance or marketing. Students with community involvement experience, leadership skills and demonstrated financial need are encouraged to apply. Annually, 50 scholarships are awarded through the Buick Achievers Scholarship Program.

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