Best Colleges for First-Generation College Students

Most colleges define first-generation students as students from a household where they will be the first to earn a bachelor’s degree. These students often require a little extra support financially, psychologically, and emotionally.

These needs have been identified and supported by college organizations to help ensure these students are comfortable and have the tools and resources to be successful over the years.

Here are the top 10 colleges that offer exceptional resources and facilities for first-generation college students

Duke University

Location: Durham, NC

Average Tuition: $74,000 without financial aid / $36,500 after average financial aid offer

Cheap College Classes

About the school: Approximately half of the students that attend Duke receive financial aid. With 10% of its student population being first-generation, the school is working to help ensure these students have adequate resources and support to succeed.

The school has the Duke LIFE (Low-Income First-Generation Engagement) under the Office of Undergraduate Education that helps welcome and advocate for first-gen students. This team also works with the Duke LIFE Student Group to create development programs and activities.

Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, MA

Average Tuition: $72,000 without financial aid / $14,000 after average financial aid offer

About the school: More than 15% of Harvard Students are first-generation, and many helped create Harvard’s First-Generation Program (HFGP) under the Admissions and Financial Aid Office. They focus on directing future first-generation students through the application process.

You can contact them or learn more specifics about the program here.

Colorado State University

Location: Fort Collins, CO

Average Tuition: $26,000 without financial aid / $19,000 after average financial aid offer

About the school: The First Generation University Initiative is what makes Colorado State University stand out. This group comprises staff and faculty members who volunteer to organize, develop strategies, and provide support for first-gen students.

Colorado State University was the first school in the nation to offer scholarships specifically for first-gen students, so it’s no surprise that almost 25% of the student population is first-generation.

Yale University

Location: New Haven, CT

Average Tuition: $74,000 without financial aid / $18,700 after average financial aid offer

About the school: Yale has The Community Initiative helping First-Generation Low-Income (FGLI) students feel a stronger sense of belonging in the Yale community. The group encourages students to embrace their diversity and lead cultural and institutional change both on-campus and in society. 

Cornell University

Location: Ithaca, NY

Average Tuition: $74,000 without financial aid / $31,000 after average financial aid offer

About the school: Cornell offers First-Generation Low-Income support through its First-Generation Student Union and the FGLI Student Support Center. The Student Union helps create a community of other first-gen students to create a sense of belonging on campus. The support center helps with financial needs, whether it be emergency expenses, basic needs, and transformative experiences.

University of California – Berkeley

Location: Berkeley, CA

Average Tuition: $38,000 without financial aid / $15,500 after average financial aid offer

About the school: UC Berkeley reports that almost 26% of its students are first-Generation students. To make sure these students have the support they need for success, they have a list of resources ranging from Academic Achievement & Mentorship Services, Student Life, and Community Resources.

Texas Tech University

Location: Lubbock, TX

Average Tuition: $24,500 without financial aid / $17,000 after average financial aid offer

About the school: Texas Tech has a pretty impressive support structure through its First Generation Transition & Mentoring Program. Their program focuses on peer mentorship, social engagement, and student success activities.

They also have a scholarship that first-gen students can apply for, if you visit the page mentioned above, you will see all the details on how to apply for the scholarship should you choose to attend this school.

University of Cincinnati

Location: Cincinnati, OH

Average Tuition: $27,500 without financial aid / $24,000 after average financial aid offer

About the school: The Gen-1 House Program is the Nation’s first living-learning community focusing on first-gen students. The Gen-1 Program helps transition students from high school to college while achieving academic, personal, and social success.

There are also scholarships offered for both on-campus and off-campus students for housing assistance. The program has an interesting approach to academics with their tutoring, advising, mentoring, and study session support through their Ambassador Contract, which all Gen-1 students agree to.

Trinity University

Location: San Antonio, TX

Average Tuition: $59,000 without financial aid / $23,000 after average financial aid offer

About the school: With a 12% first-generation student population, this school is redefining how they support first-gen students. The school has now chosen to participate in the national First-Generation College Celebration. Students of Trinity are recognized for their role in building a student organization that has contributed to their society.

The school is continually building upon its support structure for first-gen students through student mentorship, support, and other resources.

University of Michigan

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Average Tuition: $30,300 without financial aid / $15,000 after average financial aid offer

About the school: The First-Gen Program at the University of Michigan has a list of resources that range from school programs, how to pay for school, graduation announcements and information, and the First Gen Gateway.

The Gateway is the starting point for all first-gen students to help students find resources, connect to partner offices for support, meeting with a project manager, or even just using their space to study or host meetings. Whatever you need, it would seem like this school is ready to deliver to help set you up for success.

 

Regardless of where you attend school, you should know that there are resources available to help set you up for success in continuing your education. We all have different backgrounds and life experiences. The important thing is to find out if the school will help you feel comfortable and keep you on track for graduation.