Resources for first-generation college students applying to college for the first time

Taking the first step to pursue a higher education takes a lot of courage and determination. This step is even more enormous to those whose parents didn’t seek a postsecondary degree. First-generation college students often face academic, professional, financial, and psychological challenges. 

33% of higher education students today are the first in their family to attend college. The number of undergraduate first-gen students attending college and universities across the United States is on the rise, which has contributed to a growing number of available resources.

Student Counselors and Teacher(s)

Student counselors and teachers are highly qualified to help you navigate each step in the college application process. School officials are available to assist with admission exams registration (e.g., SAT, and ACT), track your graduation readiness, discuss your college decision, and so on. 

Establishing a relationship with someone who has been through the application process is recommended. Counselors and teachers are more than willing to walk you through this stressful and lengthy process, so don’t hesitate to ask them for help.

Resources provided by schools 

The vast majority of U.S. colleges and universities offer development programs on and off-campus to students of all backgrounds. Such programs aim to assist students and promote college success:

  • Tutoring 
  • Student Wellness
  • Mentorship
  • Diversity and Inclusion Programs 
  • Networking 

Reach out to the college you are attending or plan to attend and ask for more resources for first-gen students. These programs may not be just for first-gen students, but it will at least give you more tools to be successful throughout college. 

Grants & Scholarship

There are thousands of grants and scholarships available for college students. These financial assistance opportunities help ease some of the financial burden college expenses bring upon students and their families. You can read more information about select grants and scholarships at the links below.



These scholarships are exclusively for first-gen students. Nonetheless, there are thousands of scholarships out there available to students regardless of their background. Fastweb and Unigo are among the list of online platforms that offer a wide variety of awards on their site.  

Also, reach out to your school’s financial aid office to learn more about any additional resources available for you.

List of organizations and Foundations catering to first-gen students 

Over the years, public and private institutions have launched many resources. Each resource varies, but the overall goal is to help students through this stressful process. 

College Spring 

Since 2008, College Spring has helped over 30,000 students from low-income backgrounds increase their SAT or ACT scores. The cost of test prep for admission exams continues to grow, leaving many with no options. To help close the gap between price and education, College Spring equips schools and their teachers with a test prep focused curriculum to promote a successful test outcome. 

First Generation Foundation

First Generation Foundation encourages first-generation students to pursue higher education regardless of any adversity. The organization offers a wide variety of resources for students who are the first in their families to attend college.

First Generation Student Success 

The Center for First-Generation Student Success was endowed to advance the success of first-generation students. This online platform provides guidance, access to programs and services, networking opportunities, and much more. 

The Posse Foundation

The Posse Foundation believes that students from different backgrounds can reach the same level of success as any other student with the right resources at their disposal. This belief aims to guide and prepare the leaders of tomorrow.  

I’m First!

I’m First! is an online community celebrating first-generation college students. The nonprofit Center for Student Opportunity created this online community in 2013 to provide first-gen students with useful resources.

First-generation students often don’t have family members to help them through the process and need a little extra insight into how the process works. We understand how complicated the college process can be, and we’re here to help you ease into this exciting and rewarding journey.