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Scholarships and Programs for High Achieving Students

 This article acts as a guide to some of the more well-known and competitive scholarships for First Generation and/or low-income college students, and then some more discreet scholarships and programs that you may not have heard about yet. 

The Posse Foundation

What: The Posse Foundation is a program found in cities like Boston, Houston, and New York (among others) across the nation.

Who: Public high school seniors from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and Washington, D.C..

When to Apply: You should start researching during your junior year, but the application process takes place during fall of your Senior year (testing starts in September). Also, a nomination is required to apply, so look into that, too!


One of the largest scholarship providers, Questbridge is a non-profit that aims to give low income students opportunities to explore and attend top ranked higher education institutions. There are two programs in particular that students should look into: the College Prep Scholarship and National Match. Here is a breakdown on important details about each program:

College Prep Scholarship

What: Provides various scholarship awards to help students “successfully navigate the college admissions process.” Awards include: full scholarships to summer programs at Brandeis, Emory, Harvard, Notre Dame, Penn, Stanford, and Yale; Individualized college admissions counseling by QuestBridge staff or college students; All-expense-paid visits to college campuses; chance to win more opportunities

Who: Outstanding low-income high school juniors

National Match

What: Provides full four-year scholarships with no loans to students who are accepted to one of the 35 top-ranked partner colleges. Students are provided two opportunities for college admissions, one free application, and a chance to join the national Quest Scholars Network.

Who: Outstanding low-income high school seniors

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program

What: Program provides support for the cost of education by covering unmet need and self-help aid, renewable awards based on satisfactory academic progress, graduate school funding for students who are looking into STEM fields as well as fields such as education and public health.

Who: Nominated by a school faculty, staff, or administrators (teachers, principals, guidance counselors, etc.) and aimed at students who are most likely to succeed in fields of computer science, education, engineering, etc. Requirement include minimum of a 3.3 GPA, person of color, and have U.S. Citizenship or residency status

I’m First

What: Well, the support program is awesome and you should join! But the anual scholarship is renewable every year for $2,000!

Who: Any and all first-generation college students in the U.S who will be attending an I’m First partner college. Undocumented students CAN apply to this scholarship!

Dell Scholars Program

What: The Dell Scholars Program is a scholarship program in which the student is awarded $20,000, “technology, a private scholar networking community, resources, and mentoring” to complete their undergraduate degree.

Who: U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are seniors in high school with a minimum 2.4 GPA and have participated in approved college readiness program (e.g. AVID, Breakthrough Austin, Upward Bound, etc.) for at least two years.

Coca Cola First Generation Scholarship

What: This scholarship is hosted by individual colleges and universities, not so much the actual Coca-Cola Foundation. Students will need to contact the schools they’re applying to and ask if this scholarship is available at their institution, and if so, how to apply.

Who: First generation college students attending certain colleges.