Nursing Scholarships for First-Generation College Students

by Maura Deering
• 3 min read

This guide lists undergraduate and graduate scholarship opportunities targeted or available to first-generation nursing students. Read on to learn about the numerous funding options.

Nursing Scholarships for First-Generation College Students

First-generation college students may be unaware of all the financial aid opportunities available to fund their nursing education.

Some undergraduate scholarships, for example, specify eligibility or priority selection for first-generation college students. Many do not require you select a field of study, and instead look for community or public service among their selection criteria.

Graduate scholarships typically do not list first-generation learners among their criteria, but many focus on serving underrepresented communities and applicants with financial need.

The overview below provides details on some undergraduate and graduate scholarship opportunities for first-generation students.

Undergraduate First-Generation Nursing Scholarships

American Indian Nurse Scholarship Award

Who Can Apply: This award provides funding for nursing students from underrepresented tribal communities who may also be first-generation. Recipients must demonstrate financial need and return to their tribes to work following graduation.

Amount: $1,500 per semester

Gates Millennium Scholars

Who Can Apply: Students of color planning to attend college in any major can apply, including first-generation students. An applicant must demonstrate a 3.3 GPA and financial need. Some students receive full funding.

Amount: Variable, depending on college costs not covered by financial aid.

Jeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund

Who Can Apply: This fund supports women ages 35 and older with incomes below the poverty level, including first-generation students. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents attending accredited vocational or technical schools, colleges, or universities.

Amount: $2,500

Red Thread Foundation for Women

Who Can Apply: Women with international backgrounds, including first-generation Americans, entering U.S. colleges or universities may apply. Each applicant submits two essays and two recommendation letters. Selected candidates interview by phone.

Amount: $1,000

Sallie Mae Fund's Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program for High School Seniors

Who Can Apply: Diverse candidates, including those belonging to underserved communities who may also be first-generation college students, can apply. Applicants must be enrolled in accredited vocational, technical, or undergraduate degree-granting schools.

Amount: Up to $10,000

Sallie Mae Fund's Completing the Dream Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Minority and underserved learners, including first-generation students in their final year of postsecondary education, can apply. Sallie Mae delivers awards based on financial challenges that threaten students' ability to finish their degrees.

Amount: Up to $2,500

Scholarship America Dream Award

Who Can Apply: Full-time students who have completed one year of their associate or bachelor's degree programs with 3.0 GPAs and demonstrate financial need can apply. Almost 70% of recipients are first-generation degree earners.

Amount: Average award totals $24,000

The Donald White/Mandla A. Ndwanya Memorial Fund

Who Can Apply: Accepted students to accredited U.S. colleges and universities with minimum GPAs of 3.5 can apply with transcripts, FAFSA applications, and resumes. The fund prioritizes first-generation applicants in specific majors, including healthcare.

Amount: $1,000

The Kim and Harold Louie Family Foundation Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: This scholarship awards funds to first-generation students with GPAs of 3.7-4.0 and minimum SAT scores of 1300 or minimum ACT scores of 27. Applicants in all areas of study may apply, including nursing students.

Amount: A total of $100,000 awarded annually; individual amounts vary

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund/Coca-Cola Foundation First-Generation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: High school seniors entering college as first-generation students at select TMCF member schools may apply. Criteria include a 3.0 GPA, demonstrated leadership abilities, and financial need.

Amount: $5,000

Graduate First-Generation Nursing Scholarships

A.T. Anderson Memorial Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Tribal members with 3.0 GPAs can apply, including first-generation graduate nursing students. Applicants must join the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, which offers free membership.

Amount: $2,000

Association on American Indian Affairs Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Enrolled tribal members with 2.5 GPAs, including first-generation students, may apply for funds that support degree-seeking students in any field who want to serve their tribes after graduation.

Amount: Variable; scholarships awarded twice a year until students graduate

Indian Health Service Health Professions Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Tribal members, including first-generation nursing graduate students, with 2.0 GPAs and demonstrated financial need, can apply. Recipients must commit to at least two years of postgraduate service in Indian healthcare.

Amount: Variable

Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Graduate-level nursing students, including first-generation, can apply for funding covering tuition and costs and monthly stipends. Criteria include native Hawaiian ancestry and a two-year commitment to work in underserved Hawaiian areas.

Amount: Variable

National Black Nurses Association Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: NBNA awards several scholarships to its graduate student members, including first-generation learners. Each applicant must have at least one more year of school to complete and submit an essay for consideration.

Amount: $1,000-$5,000

National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Selected graduate nursing students, including first-generation applicants, receive a full year of funding. Qualifications include pursuing a primary care degree at an accredited program and a commitment to working in underserved communities.

Amount: Variable, depending on school tuition and costs

Nurse Corps Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: First-generation students enrolled in graduate nursing programs may apply if they commit to working in a critical shortage facility after graduation. The scholarship program prioritizes applicants with financial need.

Amount: Variable; includes tuition, fees, and costs

Nurses Educational Funds

Who Can Apply: NEF provides scholarships to advanced nursing program enrollees who demonstrate financial need, including first-generation students. Master's and doctoral nursing students with registered nurse (RN) licenses and 3.6 GPAs can apply for funding to support their training at accredited schools.

Amount: Variable

AfterCollege/American Association of Colleges of Nursing Scholarship Fund

Who Can Apply: AACN member school attendees, including first-generation students enrolled in graduate nursing programs, may apply for funds. The fund gives special consideration to nurse educator, master's bridge, and accelerated program enrollees.

Amount: $2,500 per quarter

Sallie Mae Fund's Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program for Graduate Students

Who Can Apply: Minority graduates and professional students from historically underserved communities can apply for funding, including first-generation nursing students pursuing master's or doctoral degrees. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.

Amount: $10,000

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