First generation college student scholarships have helped many individuals, especially in recent years. Although definitions may vary, the term 'first-generation' most commonly refers to students who come from households where neither parent has a four-year college degree. For many of these students, procuring financial assistance is vital to entering into a university program and procuring a bachelor's degree. Furthermore, not only do a mere 26% of first-generation students actually earn a bachelor's degree, but a first-generation student is also nearly twice as likely as a non-first-generation student to struggle to afford tuition and fees.
In the past, many colleges have overlooked the struggles of first-generation students due to concerns about how programs to help first-generation students may conflict with existing efforts to help low-income and minority students. Conversely, colleges have also made the mistake of believing that the existing efforts towards helping low-income and minority students are already serving first-gen students, as first-generation college students often have intersecting identities as underrepresented students. However, the needs of a first-generation college student are unique, so unique sources of financial aid are necessary.
Fortunately, there are now plenty of resources that exist to help make college accessible to first-generation students. As opposed to taking out federal student loans or private student loans, scholarships provide a form of financial aid that does not have to be paid back, allowing first-generation college students with financial needs to pursue a college degree without the financial concern.
Not only does obtaining any scholarship help alleviate the financial burden of higher education, but applying to scholarships with narrow specifications, such as a first-generation college student scholarship, can even increase an applicant's chances of obtaining the scholarship. If you are a first-generation college student, consider applying to scholarships geared toward first-gen students to help fund your pursuit of higher education.
One common source of funding for first-generation college students is scholarships, and there are plenty of scholarships designed for first-generation students specifically. In fact, during the process of applying to and enrolling in a four-year degree program, students are often asked if they are the first in their family to attend college, which can help point first-generation college students in the direction of scholarships specific to their college application process experience. Although eligibility requirements may vary between scholarships, there are first-generation scholarships that are available to all kinds of students, including high school seniors and currently enrolled undergraduate students.
Applying to first-generation scholarships is just like applying to other scholarships. It requires careful research and dedication to meet all of the application requirements. In general, the following is a list of important steps to take as you apply for a first-generation scholarship.
Despite the expensive and increasing cost of college tuition, there are many scholarships available to first-generation college students. As you go about searching for a first-generation scholarship, there are countless resources that can assist you. Bold.org in particular can help you gain access to first-generation scholarships, so you can attend college without the financial burden. Below is a list of exclusive scholarships from Bold.org that can help make the first-generation college experience more affordable.
The most common definition of "first-generation college student" is someone who comes from a household where neither parent has a four-year college degree; however, the specific definition and qualifications may vary between scholarships. For instance, while one scholarship may use the aforementioned definition, another may define a first-generation college student as the first person in a family to attend a four-year college. As you research different scholarships, make sure the definition used by the relevant scholarship is applicable to you.
Furthermore, first-generation scholarships may have other requirements outside of being a first-generation student that an applicant must meet in order to qualify. For instance, a scholarship may ask that its applicants plan to pursue a bachelor's degree in the humanities. Another may be for graduating high school seniors who plan to study STEM subjects. In fact, applying to a scholarship with a narrower target demographic may even increase your chances of obtaining that scholarship. In effect, as you search for the right scholarship for you, be sure that you match all of the specifications for that scholarship.
The sooner you start applying for scholarships the better. With so many different first-generation scholarships to apply for, each with its own specific requirements, the deadlines between scholarships can vary greatly. In order to maximize the number of scholarships you can apply for and gain, it is best to start applying as early as possible. In fact, the Federal Student Aid Office in the United States Department of Education recommends that students begin searching for scholarships as early as the summer before their senior year.
Once enrolled in a university program, you can also continue to apply for college scholarships as a degree-seeking undergraduate student. So long as you meet the criteria as a first-generation student, as well as any other requirements, you will be eligible to continuously apply whether you are a high school student or a current college student.
Qualifications between scholarships may differ, so it is important to find the right one for you. Almost all scholarships will offer a description and a list of criteria required from applicants that want to be considered. These eligibility requirements oftentimes look at things like grade point average, school year, geographical location, race/ethnicity, gender, or, in this case, first-generation status.
When looking at a scholarship, be sure to carefully read the requirements to make sure you are eligible before you begin applying. If you match all of the requirements set by the scholarship, you will be eligible to apply for it.
Usually, if your parents have taken some college courses or have even completed community college, you will still be considered a first-generation student. Still, requirements may vary between scholarships and schools, so you can check by contacting the source behind your scholarship, your school's admissions office, academic advising, or student services.
After finding a scholarship that interests you, it is important to know all of its application requirements. Required application materials can vary between scholarships, and it is important to know what materials are required for a specific application. For instance, a scholarship may require that you write an essay answering a certain prompt. If this is the case, be sure to begin writing early on and save time for editing. It is also helpful to receive feedback and editing help from teachers, counselors, friends, family, etc. in order to make sure that your work is thoughtful and fully proofread.
Other applications may require specific documents as well. You may be asked to submit your transcript or a letter of recommendation from a teacher or employer. If a scholarship that interests you requires these documents, ask for them early on in order to give your school or recommender ample time to obtain them. Not only will this give them more time to get your transcript or write you a letter of recommendation, but it will also allow you more time to deal with any potential obstacles that may get in the way.
In general, scholarships, and even grants, are not considered income and are therefore tax-free. However, there are some requirements that must be met in order for a scholarship to be considered tax-free. First, the recipient of the scholarship must be in pursuit of a degree at an accredited institution with a regular faculty, curriculum, and student body that is in attendance at the campus where educational activities take place. Second, the scholarship money must be used to pay for direct educational costs, including the tuition and fees required for enrollment at the institution, or for the fees of required books.
Scholarships on Bold.org will go directly to these eligible costs, so you won't have to report money as income or pay taxes on it.
However, if you win scholarships from another source, the money included in your gross total income if any money goes toward expenses like travel, optional equipment, or room and board, as well as money received as payments for teaching, research, and/or other services required as a condition for receiving the scholarship.
In order to report any portion of a scholarship included in gross total income, you can generally fill out a Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR under the section labeled "Wages, salaries, tips". Alternatively, if filling you a Form 1040-NR, you report the taxable amount in the "Scholarships and fellowship grants" section.