Staff Writer

Staff Writer

MN Office of Higher Education

Professional advice and scholarships can help you pave your path forward. If you’re part of the first generation in your family to go to college, you have a vast horizon of opportunities waiting for you — in more ways than one. 

Male student in library

Many institutions offer special scholarships for first-generation college students in Minnesota, and it’s important to know about them before you make decisions for your future.

Before tracking down scholarships, it’s important to understand how your college of choice defines “first generation student”. For example, the University of Minnesota system states that as long as your parents did not complete an undergraduate degree, you are considered a first-generation student. Just under 25% of the undergraduate student body at the U of M Twin Cities Campus are first-generation. Other colleges may have more strict requirements to be considered first-generation, which could make it more difficult to get this type of scholarship from that particular college.

Another potential step that can be unique for first-generation students is identifying people who can share information and experiences about college. One helpful resource for accessing advice regarding college is the Life After Now podcast. This unique series offers conversations about the college experience in Minnesota and the various resources available to students.

If you’re a first-generation college student and in need of financial support, different avenues are available depending upon your individual situation and needs. The following scholarships are not specifically designed for this, but being a first-generation student may make your application more appealing.

State-Based Financial Aid That Can Help

Education and Training Vouchers for Current and Former Foster Youth

ETVs” are part of a state-administered federal grant for youth who were in foster care as 17-year-olds or those adopted from foster care when they were 16 or older. Prospective students can receive up to $5,000.

Scholarships for American Indians in Minnesota

American Indians comprise just 1-2% of the national and Minnesotan student population, so it’s probable that many of those students are first-generation. These scholarships total $4,000 per academic year per student and are awarded to students of one quarter or more American Indian ancestry or who are enrolled members of a tribe. It is also necessary that recipients achieve Satisfactory Academic Progress or SAP.

Minnesotan Indian Tuition Waiver

This scholarship is available for American Indian students who are in undergrad at least three-quarter time and graduate students enrolled at least half-time. To qualify for this scholarship, applicants must be one-fourth or more American Indian Minnesota residents, enrolled in an accredited college or vocational school in Minnesota and qualify for a Pell or State Grant.

American Indian Tuition Waiver

American Indian students admitted to the University of Minnesota—Morris can apply for a tuition waiver. To qualify for this benefit, students must be accepted by the university’s admissions office, complete the American Indian Tuition waiver application, and provide American Indian heritage documentation.

American Indian Scholars Program

The American Indian Scholars Program is a first-dollar tuition fee-free pathway for Minnesotans eligible for resident tuition who are members or citizens of any federally recognized tribe or Canadian First Nation to attend a Minnesota State institution or the University of Minnesota. First-dollar means this program can provide a base scholarship sufficient to cover tuition and fees. To be considered eligible for this program, applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate certificate, diploma, or degree program at a Minnesota state institution or campus of the University of Minnesota. Applicants must also have never received a bachelor's degree and have fewer than 180 credits attended at the college level. Each individual college determines student eligibility.

Fostering Independence Higher Education Grants

Foster Grants were created to make it easier for Minnesota students who were in the foster care system. Minnesota residents under 27 who were in the foster care system at any point after their 13th birthday may be eligible for this grant. Applicants must have completed high school or an equivalent, meet Satisfactory Academic Progress defined by each institution, and submit a FAFSA or Minnesota Dream Act application.

For more options that might apply, see this list of scholarships for students with special circumstances.  

Being the first one in your family to go to college is an exciting step to take! As you begin to pave your path forward and plan your college experience, keep in mind that there are plenty of options available to help you along each step of the way.


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