First Generation Nursing Scholarships

First generation nursing scholarships are for students who are the first member of their immediate family to attend college.  These scholarships are provided to students to help cover the costs of a higher education including tuition and books.  First generation scholarships provide incentive for qualified individuals to consider attending college when they may not otherwise view it as an option.  The majority of these scholarships do not require study in a particular discipline, so nursing students qualify as long as other eligibility requirements have been met.

The Suder Foundation

The Foundation sponsors the First Scholars program at various colleges across the country.  All applicants must be first generation full-time students pursuing their first undergraduate degree.  This program is open to all disciplines, including nursing.  Scholarships are awarded based on academic scores and potential as well as financial need. Awards are made by participating colleges and universities such as Washington State University and the University of Memphis.  The Foundation requires scholarship recipients to develop strategic plans for their college experience.  Each program provides ongoing support to scholarship recipients. Scholarship awards are $5,000 per year and are renewable for an additional three years. To learn more about this first generation scholarship, contact your school’s financial aid office and ask if they participate in the program.

State Programs

Several states fund scholarship programs for first generation students.  Most are not specific to a particular field of study so nursing students should be able to apply as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements. The following is an example of this type of scholarship opportunity.

Florida First Generation Matching Grant Program

This program is designed to help first generation college students who are residents of Florida and have documented financial need to enter into college. Need is determined by the student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which must be submitted to be considered. As long as the student’s parents did not earn a degree at the baccalaureate level or above, and the student plans to attend a state-funded nursing program that participates in the state-funded first generation program, they should consider this financial assistance option.  These scholarships are awarded directly through the participating schools so interested students should contact their school’s financial aid office for information pertaining to application guidelines and deadlines.

Educational Institute Scholarships

First generation students enrolled in nursing schools may qualify for special scholarships.  The best approach is to meet with an advisor at your school’s financial aid office.  They will be able to provide you with information on scholarships you are eligible to apply for, including those for first generation students.  Following is an example of a college that offers a first generation scholarship that nursing students can apply for.

St. John Fisher College

First generation students who are graduating high school seniors accepted to the College’s Nursing Program may be eligible for financial assistance from the Fannie & Sam Constantino First Generation Scholarship Program. This scholarship is open to all eligible students regardless of field of study.  Scholarships are awarded based on financial need and potential for success.  Awards begin at $5,000 and can include room and board for on-campus students.  All First Generation Scholars are required to tutor and mentor younger people from the area for the purpose of encouraging them to see higher education as the first step to a better future.  Interested nursing students should contact the College at (585) 385-8000 for further information.

Corporate Scholarships

Several corporations sponsor first generation scholarship programs.  Most are open to students regardless of residency or field of study. If the scholarships are administered directly through partnering educational institutions, there may be additional eligibility requirements.  Following are examples of corporate first generation scholarships.

Coca-Cola Company

The company sponsors the Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship. Primary eligibility criteria include being the first member of your family to pursue a college degree, academic scores, and documented financial need.  Coca-Cola gives scholarship funds to partnering educational institutions.  Interested students should contact their school’s financial aid office to determine if this financial assistance program is available.  There are no restrictions on field of study so nursing students are eligible for this scholarship opportunity.


Through its Foundation, Walmart has partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to sponsor the First-Generation Scholars Program.  Scholarships are available to students enrolled in participating colleges and universities including public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutes (PBIs).  Both merit and need factors are considered for awards.  Scholarships are typically around $4,400 per year paid in equal installments over two semesters.  Students are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered.  Students can learn if their college participates in the program by contacting their school’s financial aid office.

Community-Based Scholarships

First generation students can receive further financial assistance through local community-based organizations such as nonprofit organizations and community foundations that offer scholarships.  The following is an example of a foundation that offers first generation scholarships.

The Rhode Island Foundation

The Foundation awards scholarships to students who are residents of Rhode Island.  The Patty & Melvin Alperin First Generation Scholarship is available for graduating high school students who are the first person in their family to go to college. There is no restriction on fields of study so nursing students who meet all other eligibility requirements can apply for assistance.  Scholarships are awarded based on academic scores and documented financial need.  Applicants must prove acceptance to or enrollment in accredited colleges. Both two-year and four-year programs are acceptable.  Awards are typically around $1,000.  Applications are usually due to the Foundation by the end of April annually.  For applications and guidelines, contact the Foundation at One Union Station, Providence, RI 02903 or by calling (401) 274-4564.

There are multiple ways to obtain first generation nursing scholarships.  They reward nursing students for taking that very important first step toward a rewarding career in nursing – a college education.  First generation nursing students can apply for multiple scholarships.