Scholarships for First-Generation College Students – India and Abroad

Scholarships for First-Generation College Students – Scholarships play a transformative role in supporting first-generation college students, empowering them to pursue higher education and fulfil their academic aspirations. 

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A first-generation college student refers to an individual who is the first in their immediate family to pursue a college education. It means that neither of their parents or guardians has obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

These students embark on their academic journey with limited family guidance and firsthand knowledge of navigating the complexities of college life. 

Through scholarships, these deserving individuals are provided with the necessary financial assistance, encouragement, and opportunities to overcome barriers and reach their full potential in academia. As a result, scholarships not only impact their personal lives but also contribute to a more diverse and inclusive educational landscape. 

From eligibility requirements to the list of scholarships, this comprehensive article aims to equip first-generation college students with the knowledge and tools needed to secure financial aid and thrive in their academic pursuits.

First-Generation College Students – Data

According to a 2018 report by the Bangalore Mirror, first-generation college students surveyed in Bengaluru and other cities in India expressed a strong desire to make a positive impact on their families and communities. 

Approximately 70% of them aspire to change the way their parents live, while 61% expressed a desire to give back to their communities. In comparison, the figures were lower among the non-first-generation students surveyed, with 39% aspiring to change their parents’ lives and 43% wanting to give back to their communities. 

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Additionally, a 2018 survey ‘Sodexo University Trends Report: Five Trends Set to Impact the Student Journey and Campus’ conducted by Sodexo emphasises the potential of first-generation students in contributing to economic growth through higher education. 

However, it also highlights the financial challenges faced by these students, as tuition fees and other expenses have significantly increased over the past 25 years. Customised attention, support, and accessible information are identified as key factors in helping first-generation students succeed in higher education. 

Despite the obstacles they face, these students bring strengths such as motivation, resourcefulness, and resilience to the university experience. 

Scholarships for First-Generation College Students 

Below are some well-known scholarships available to first-generation college students in India and other countries across the globe:

Jyoti Prakash Scholarship and Mentorship Program

1. Provider Name: Buddy4Study India Foundation

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2. Awards:

  • Scholarship of up to INR 24,000 to cover educational/sports expenses.
  • Expert mentorship sessions from Buddy4Study (B4S) employees.

3. Eligibility Criteria:

  • Students with disabilities, transgender students, first-generation learners, orphans, single-parent children, and sportspersons.
  • Current students in Classes 9 to 12, graduation, or post graduation courses, and sportspersons.

4. Application Process: Interested candidates can apply for the scholarship through Buddy4Study’s official website.

IFSA First-Generation Scholarship 

1. Provider Name: International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) Foundation 

2. Award:

  • Selected first-generation college students are granted up to $2,500, aiding them in covering expenses such as airfare, visas and passports, as well as housing costs.

3. Eligibility:

  • The IFSA First-Generation Scholarship is designed specifically for first-generation college students who want to study abroad. 

4. Application Process: Interested candidates can apply for the scholarship through the IFSA’s official website.

Gutierrez Law Firm: First of Us Scholarship

1. Provider Name: Gutierrez Law Firm, Texas, US

2. Awards: First of Us Scholarship offers a $1,000 scholarship opportunity.

3. Eligibility Criteria:

  • To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must be first-generation college students who are legal residents of the United States, residing in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. 
  • The scholarship is open to current high school seniors, vocational students, college students, or graduate students enrolled in a vocational program or a two to a five-year post-secondary institution. 
  • Additionally, candidates should maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher and exhibit good overall academic standing.

Note: Employees of Gutierrez Law Firm, their immediate families, and persons living in the same households of such individuals are not eligible to participate.

First Generation Scholarship by University of Colorado, Boulder

1. Provider Name: University of Colorado, Boulder

2. Awards: The scholarship offers a $4,000 per year award for residents and an $8,000 per year award for nonresidents of the US.

3. Eligibility Criteria: 

  • Incoming first-year students, both residents and nonresidents of the US, or resident transfer students.
  • Neither parent has attained a bachelor’s degree.
  • Demonstrate significant financial need by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or applying for aid as an undocumented student.
  • Nonresidents of the US must have been offered the Presidential Scholarship or CU Boulder Chancellor’s Achievement Scholarship.

4. Application Process: Interested candidates can apply for the scholarship through the university’s official website.

Ontario First Generation Bursary

The Ontario First Generation Bursary is specifically designed for postsecondary students whose parents have never pursued higher education. This scholarship aims to assist students with financial need who are enrolled in publicly-assisted colleges or universities within Ontario, Canada.

1. Provider: Ministry of Colleges and Universities, Ontario

2. Awards: The scholarship amount offered is variable, ranging from CAD 1,000 to CAD 3,500. The specific award given to each student is determined by their respective college/university. To obtain detailed information about the awarded amount, students should reach out to their institute’s financial aid office.

3. Eligibility Criteria: 

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must meet the following criteria:

  • They must be enrolled in a publicly-assisted college or university in Ontario.
  • Their parent(s) should not have participated in any postsecondary studies worldwide, either on a full or part-time basis.
  • They should be enrolled in a first-entry undergraduate program. Second entry programs (e.g., law or medicine) and graduate programs are not eligible.
  • They must not possess a postsecondary degree, diploma, or certificate.
  • They should not be receiving assistance through the Second Career program.
  • They must meet the citizenship and Ontario residency requirements as listed in the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) Application for Full-Time Students.
  • They should meet the financial need criteria defined by their college for this grant.
  • Students should also be aware that some colleges may have additional eligibility requirements, such as being in full-time studies, so it’s important to check with their respective college for any additional criteria.

4. Application Process: Students can check the application process at the official website of the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).

Scholarships for First-Generation College Students – Other Opportunities

Here are some of the additional opportunities available to first-generation college students globally.

1. The United States of America

  • Odyssey Scholarship Programme 
  • APIA Scholarship Programme 
  • First in Family Scholarship by Farash Foundation

2. The United Kingdom

  • First Generation Scholarship Programme by Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Golden Scholarship – LSE
  • York Opportunity Scholarship
  • The Dentons Bursary
  • John Crook Scholarships

3. Australia 

  • First in the Family Scholarships by University of Melbourne
  • Grigg Family Access to Education Scholarship

4. New Zealand

  • Hills First in Family Scholarship
  • WSU ‘First’ in Family’ Scholarship

Note: To know about other scholarships for students in India, please read the following article: Scholarships in India – Merit Scholarships, Means Scholarships, Talent Scholarships.

Scholarships for First-Generation College Students – Requirements

The eligibility criteria of various scholarships for first-generation college students may vary depending upon several factors. However, some common requirements for such scholarships are as follows:

  • Proof of first-generation status (neither parent or guardian has earned a bachelor’s degree).
  • Academic achievements and a minimum GPA requirement.
  • Leadership qualities and involvement in extracurricular activities.
  • Demonstrated financial need through documentation.
  • Submission of personal essays or statements.
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers, mentors, or community leaders.
  • Meeting specific eligibility criteria outlined by each scholarship program.
  • Adhering to application deadlines and submission requirements.
  • Some scholarships may have additional requirements, such as interviews or participation in community service.

Scholarships for First-Generation College Students – Tips 

To enhance the chances of securing scholarships, first-generation college students can implement the following strategies:

  • Starting Early: Students can begin researching scholarships well in advance to allow ample time for preparation and application.
  • Showcasing Achievements: Students can highlight academic achievements, community involvement, leadership roles, and extracurricular activities in applications to demonstrate well-roundedness and potential.
  • Seeking Guidance: Students can also utilise available resources, such as college counsellors, mentors, and scholarship search engines, to explore scholarship opportunities and receive guidance throughout the application process.
  • Personalising Essays: Craft compelling personal statements and essays that reflect experiences, challenges, and aspirations as a first-generation student also play a major-role in securing a scholarship.
  • Applying Widely: It is important for students to cast a wide net by applying for multiple scholarships to increase the likelihood of receiving financial aid.

Scholarships for First-Generation College Students – Where to Apply?

Scholarship Name Important Links
Jyoti Prakash Scholarship and Mentorship Program
IFSA First-Generation Scholarship
Gutierrez Law Firm: First of Us Scholarship
Odyssey Scholarship Programme
APIA Scholarship Programme
First Generation Scholarship by University of Colorado, Boulder
First in Family Scholarship by Farash Foundation
IFSA First-Generation Scholarship
First Generation Scholarship Programme by Manchester Metropolitan University
Golden Scholarship – LSE
York Opportunity Scholarship
The Dentons Bursary
John Crook Scholarships
Ontario First Generation Bursary
First in the Family Scholarships by University of Melbourne
Grigg Family Access to Education Scholarship
Hills First in Family Scholarship
WSU ‘First’ in Family’ Scholarship

Also Read: Robotics Scholarships – Eligibility, Awards, Application Processes & More

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I find more scholarships for first-generation college students in India?

In order to find more scholarships for first-generation college students in India, students can explore scholarship databases and websites like the National Scholarship Portal, Buddy4Study, and Scholarship in India for more opportunities.

What are the general eligibility criteria for scholarships for first-generation college students?

Eligibility criteria for scholarships for first-generation college students vary depending on the scholarship. Academic performance, financial need, and specific demographic or merit-based requirements are common factors.

Can I apply for multiple scholarships simultaneously?

Yes, students can apply for multiple scholarships as long as they meet the eligibility criteria for each program. However, it is essential to review the application deadlines and requirements carefully.

How can I improve my chances of receiving a scholarship?

Students can improve their chances by maintaining a solid academic record, actively participating in extracurricular activities, writing compelling essays, securing strong recommendation letters, and submitting timely applications.

Are there scholarships exclusively available for first-generation students?

Yes, there are scholarships specifically designed for first-generation college students. Many organisations and institutions offer these scholarships to support and encourage the academic endeavours of first-generation students.

How can first-generation college students find suitable scholarships?

First-generation students can find suitable scholarships through various methods. They can start by researching scholarship databases, exploring financial aid websites, and checking with their college's or university's financial aid office. Contacting community organisations, local foundations, and professional associations can provide additional scholarship opportunities.

What factors are considered in the selection process for first-generation scholarships?

The selection process for first-generation scholarships typically takes into account various factors. These may include academic achievements, leadership qualities, community involvement, financial need, personal essays, letters of recommendation, and sometimes, interviews. Each scholarship program may have specific criteria and priorities.

Do first-generation scholarships require a specific GPA for eligibility and renewal?

GPA requirements for first-generation scholarships vary depending on the scholarship program. While some scholarships may have minimum GPA requirements, others may prioritise factors beyond academic performance. It is important for students to thoroughly review the eligibility criteria of each scholarship to understand the GPA requirements, if any, for both initial eligibility and potential renewal.

Are there scholarships for graduate-level studies for first-generation students?

There are scholarships available for first-generation students pursuing graduate-level studies. Many organisations, universities, and professional associations offer scholarships to support first-generation students in their pursuit of advanced degrees. These scholarships can provide financial assistance and valuable resources for graduate students.


  1. Source of Information: Buddy4Study app compiles details on scholarships/fellowships from government websites and private scholarship sources. Links to the official sources accompany each listing detail pages.
  2. Non-affiliation: The Buddy4Study app is not associated with any government entity in India or elsewhere. When featuring government scholarships, we rely on publicly accessible information from central and state government websites in India.

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