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The Advisory Board for the Center for First-generation Student Success includes leaders from higher education institutions, foundations, and nonprofit organizations. The board is committed to increasing support for first-generation students as higher education leaders consider student success efforts in our current uncertain times. A recent joint statement outlining the value of this approach can be found here.

Such advocacy on behalf of first-generation students is important; however, words are more powerful when coupled with action. This resource page is the first step in a series of actions to provide higher education leaders with information to amplify their commitment to first-generation student success. We encourage leadership to use and share this information with your teams as a part of institutional decision-making and to rely upon the Center as a resource.



33% stat image

33% of higher ed students today are the first in their family to attend college.
U.S. Department of Education


27% stat image

Only 27% of first-generation college students complete a bachelor's degree in four-years
Higher Education Research Institute


surveyed institutions

Of surveyed institutions, only 50% have identified a "point person" to lead first-generation initiatives
2018 National Landscape Analysis of First-generation Student Success Programs at Four-year Institutions


78% Senior Administrators

78% of senior administrators at my institution care about first-generation students This statistic is reflective of all university leaders, practitioners, and scholars surveyed for the landscape analysis. 
2018 National Landscape Analysis of First-generation Student Success Programs at Four-year Institutions


20 percent versus 42 percent

20 percent of first-generation college students had obtained a bachelor’s degree 10 years after their sophomore year in high school compared to 42 percent of continuing-generation students.
U.S. Department of Education

Facts & Data

The following reports and fact sheets delineate national statistics about the background characteristics, postsecondary experiences, and outcomes of first-generation and continuing-generation college students in the United States. They provide an overview of first-generation students in higher education and a starting point for institutional comparisons.

Current Climate

The following compilation of resources is specific to operating in response to COVID-19. It includes first-generation student-specific information as well as a dashboard providing weekly updates from an ongoing national survey on the impact of the pandemic to specific resources for supporting the most vulnerable students.

First Scholars: Elevate Potential

First Scholars Main with Logo

First Scholars® is the Center’s signature initiative designed to scale the support of first-generation student success at higher education institutions. It includes a guided process and framework consisting of both evidence-based approaches to holistic first-generation student success and strategic, institution-level shifts.

Learn more

Association Partner Resources

The intersectionality of first-generation students is evidenced through the following resources published by the Center’s partners in student success work.

Institutional Opportunities

The Center provides several opportunities to celebrate first-generation student success. Our cohort-based First-gen Forward recognition program acknowledges higher education institutions committed to the success of first-generation students. In partnership with the Council for Opportunity in Education, the Center promotes and provides resources for institutions to recognize and celebrate their first-generation students on November 8 of each year.


The upcoming Journal of First-generation Student Success joins other publications of NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and will be managed by the Center for First-generation Student Success. The Journal seeks to publish practice articles that are grounded in research and literature and, reciprocally, research articles that speak to practice.