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Scholarships for First-Generation Students

Here is a list of outside scholarship opportunities exclusively for first-generation college students. 

 "I'm First" Scholarship

I'm First Scholarship is a $4,000 scholarship ($1,000 per year, renewable for four years of college) awarded to 8 graduating high school seniors who will be the first in their family to go to college and are matriculating to a College Partner institution, Pepperdine being one of them. Scholarships winners then can blog about college advice to high school students.

Deadline: June 2, 2015

Website: www.Imfirst.org

Minimum Eligibility Requirements: 

  • Current high school (or home-schooled) seniors attending school in the United States.
  • First-generation college student (neither parent has earned a four-year college degree).
  • Must be attending an I'm First partner college or university.

Ideal candidates will display the following qualities:

  • Seeking financial aid and scholarship support for college.
  • Strong writing skills and unique perspective.
  • Strong capacity for reflection for blogging.
  • Experience with or commitment to community service.
  • Leadership experience.
  • Commitment to helping expand educational opportunities for other first-generation students.

Scholarship winners are not selected based on academic qualifications such as GPA, SAT/ACT scores, or intended majors. Undocumented students are eligible and strongly encouraged to apply.

 The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship is an achievement-based scholarship awarded to graduating high school seniors each year. Students are recognized for their capacity to lead and serve, and their commitment to making a significant impact on their schools and communities.

Deadline: Applications available in August of their senior year and October 31 deadline.

Website: www.coca-colascholarsfoundation.org/

Minimum Eligibility Requirements:

  • High school seniors with a minimum 3.0 unweighted GPA.

Applicants May Not:

  • Be children or grandchildren of employees, officers or owners of Coca-Cola bottling companies, The Coca-Cola Company, Company divisions or subsidiaries.

Contact Info:

The Coca-Cola Foundation
P.O. Box 1615 Atlanta, GA 30301
(404) 733-5420

 The Ventures Scholars Program

The Ventures Scholars Program is a national membership program designed to help underrepresented and first-generation college-bound students interested in pursuing math- and science-based careers link to information, resources, and opportunities that will help them successfully pursue their career goals.


Website: www.venturescholars.org

Minimum Eligibility Requirements:

  • Complete an on-line registration form. The on-line registration form requests academic and personal information. This information is confidential and shared only with consortium members interested in helping you achieve your academic and career goals.
  • You have a 3.0 grade point average or better.
  • You have identified yourself as a member of an underrepresented group (African American/Black, American Indian/Native American, and Hispanic/Latino/a) or are a first-generation college-bound student. (A first-generation college-bound student is a student whose parents/guardians had no education beyond high school. Race and ethnicity are not factors.)
  • You have expressed an interest in a math- or science-based career.
  • PSAT Qualifications: You need to score a minimum of 50 on the math and verbal sections.
  • SAT Qualifications: You need to score a minimum of 550 on the math and verbal sections.
  • PLAN Qualifications: You need to score a minimum of 18 on the math, science, English, and reading sections.
  • ACT Qualifications: You need to score a minimum of 19 on the math, science, English, and reading sections.

 Gates Millennium Scholars

The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was established in 1999 to provide outstanding African American, American Indian/Alaska Native*, Asian Pacific Islander American**, and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline area of interest. Continuing Gates Millennium Scholars may request funding for a graduate degree program in one of the following discipline areas: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science.

Deadline: August to January

Website: http://www.gmsp.org/

Minimum Eligibility Requirements:

  • Are African American, American Indian/Alaska Native*, Asian & Pacific Islander American** or Hispanic American.
  • Are a citizen, national or legal permanent resident of the United States.
  • Have attained a cumulative high school GPA of 3.3 on an unweighted 4.0 scale or have earned a GED.
  • Will enroll for the first time at a U.S. located, accredited*** college or university (with the exception of students concurrently pursuing a high school diploma) in the fall of 2015 as a full-time, degree-seeking, first-year student. First-time college enrollees can also be GED recipients.
  • Have demonstrated leadership abilities through participation in community service, extracurricular or other activities.
  • Meet the Federal Pell Grant eligibility criteria.
  • Have completed and submitted all three required forms: the student's application (Nominee Personal Information Form), an evaluation of the student's academic record (Nominator Form) and an evaluation of the student's community service and leadership activities (Recommender Form) by the deadline.
  • *American Indian/Alaska Native Requirements: American Indian/Alaska Natives must be enrolled in a U.S. Federal or State recognized tribe or be able to document descent from an enrolled tribal member. If selected as a GMS finalist, applicants will be asked to provide proof of tribal enrollment or descent.
  • **Asian and Pacific Islander American includes persons having origins from Asia and/or Pacific Islands. Asian includes persons having origins in any of the original people of the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent. Pacific Islander includes persons having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa or other Pacific Islands. Citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau are eligible to be nominated. This is not an all-inclusive list. Please see the U.S. Census Bureau listing at www.census.gov.
  • ***To be eligible for the GMS scholarship, the student must matriculate at a college or university that is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. The following are accreditation resources: Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education Programs Candidates; American Council of Education published in consultation with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation; Higher Education Directory published by Higher Education Publications, Inc. (Pepperdine is an accredited university).

 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program is an undergraduate scholarship program available to high-achieving high school seniors with financial need who seek to attend and graduate from the nation's best four-year colleges and universities. Selected from a nationwide pool of applicants, up to 40 students will become Jack Kent Cooke Scholars and have access to funding for up to four years for undergraduate studies.

Each award is intended to cover a significant share of the student's educational expenses – including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees. Awards vary by individual, based on the cost of tuition as well as other grants or scholarships he or she may receive.

Deadline: Late-August to early-November


Website: http://www.jkcf.org/scholarship-programs/college-scholarship/

Minimum Eligibility Requirements:

  • Plan to graduate from a US high school in spring 2015.
  • Intend to enroll in an accredited four-year college beginning in fall 2015.
  • Earn a cumulative unweighted GPA of 3.5 or above.
  • Receive standardized test scores in the top 15%: SAT combined critical reading and math score of 1200 or above and/or ACT composite score of 26 or above.
  • Demonstrate significant unmet financial need. We will consider applicants with family income up to $95,000. However, we anticipate that a majority of scholarship recipients will be eligible to receive a Pell grant.

 Manos de Esperanza

The Manos de Esperanza organization grants scholarships to students that have a history of performing public service activities in their communities and who plan on contributing in the future. Students who demonstrate excellent leadership skills are highly encouraged to apply. As an incentive to help you get started or continue your higher education, Manos de Esperanza offers annual scholarships of $500 to $1000 to several students.

Deadline: Applications will be accepted starting March 30th and end by June 30th. All completed applications must be turned in by June 30th to be considered.


Website: www.manosdeesperanza.org

Minimum Eligibility Requirements:

  • Maintain a minimum of 2.8 GPA • Demonstrate financial need (see Application online).
  • Demonstrate involvement in the community • An interview with the scholarship committee of Manos de Esperanza.
  • Attend our annual benefit event held in December.
  • Be a full time enrolled student attending an accredited community college, four year university or graduate/professional program.

Contact Info:

P.O. Box 4604
Antioch CA 94531
(925) 756-7029
E-mail: manosdeesperanza@att.net