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First-Generation Student Support

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What does it mean to be a First-Generation Student?

Being a first-generation student can mean different things to different people and different institutions. At Ferris State University, we use a modified version of the federal TRiO and Pell Grant definition which indicates First-Generation students come from families where neither of their parents completed a bachelor’s degree in the United States and/or students who identify as having minimal prior exposure to or knowledge of the university experience.

Our Mission

Building a community of support for the success of First-Generation students at Ferris.

We Are Here To Help

As a first generation college student you have the opportunity to have experiences all your own. You have the opportunity to build your education and envision the future you want. We are here to help you with your transition to Ferris State University, by providing all the resources and information you will need to know in one easy to navigate place.

While First-Generation students are often academically skilled and eager to contribute in many ways to the campus community, navigating the tangled web of unfamiliar college policies, procedures, jargon, and expectations can be a challenge for any student. For this reason, Ferris will continue to make a concerted effort to break down these barriers and obstacles to student success. Ultimately, what we have realized is that regardless of how First-Generation is defined, the result of helping First-Generation students helps all students to be more successful.

Now accepting Applications for Tri-Alpha Honor Society

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First-Gen School Supply Library

Could you use some free school supplies? The First-Gen Workgroup has established a First-Gen School Supply Library where you can grab essential school supplies for FREE! Swing into Suite 120 in the David L. Eisler Center (next to Ferris Outfitters) and stock up on the essentials. 

First-Gen Forward Institution

Center for First-Generation Student Success logo

Ferris State University was selected as part of the Center for First Generation Student Success' inaugural (2019) cohort of First-Gen Forward institutions, sponsored by NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation. The First Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students.

In 2021 Ferris was selected as one of only two institutions in the state of Michigan to serve as a First-Gen Forward Advisory Institution. This designation places Ferris in an advisory role to mentor other institutions around the Great Lakes region. First-gen Forward Advisory Institutions serve as a leader to a specific Regional Community, support the Center for First-Generation Student Success in advancing the nation’s first recognition program, and collaborate with other Advisory Institutions in support of First-gen Forward Institutions.

In 2023 Ferris was elevated to the First-Scholars distinction through the Center of First-Generation Student Success. This distinction establishes Ferris as one of the national leaders on efforts to support and celebrate First-Generation students. Ferris is excited to grow efforts to increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation of first generation college students.

Full list of the inaugural 2019-2020 First-Forward schools

Learn more about the Center for First-Generation Student Success

Join Us On Discord and Social Media

Student Stories

Jamie Kocks

"I am beyond grateful for the textbook scholarship I received, and I thank everyone for making it possible to be able to give us First-Gen Students scholarships! When I received the scholarship, I was very excited because I knew immediately that I would be able to get two books that I need for next semester. Having that weight lifted off my shoulders may seem small to some, but it was huge to me! Thank you!"

Berenise Alvarez

"As a first-generation there's all these extra obstacles we have to overcome. Having this extra help really gave me a sense of relief. The school and work life balance is hard, but this Mini-Grant really helped. To many it may not seem like a lot, but to our First-Gen students it did. I'm sure it put a smile on other people faces, just like it did to me."

Lexie Curtis

The First-Gen Mini-Grant has helped me so much during my semester of student teaching. The mini grant was able to relieve some financial stress from gas, professional clothing, and school/student materials. I am very grateful!"

Gaby Brito-Burgos

"I am very grateful that a community like First-Gen exists. It made me feel truly supported when overcoming barriers others could not imagine exist for first generation students. "

Stephanie McCabe

"I am a first gen student, and I’m currently in my second year of the radiography program here at Ferris. My program requires me to work in a hospital as an unpaid intern 40 hours a week and take online classes. As you can imagine this leaves no time for a paying job. The mini grant contributed to my gas money in a time that I desperately needed it. Any amount of contribution given to first gen students makes a big difference in our lives and is not forgotten. Thank you for contributing to furthering my education. I can only hope to pay it forward in the future."