First Gen


Frequently Asked Questions

Young people in all socioeconomic groups have college aspirations. In fact, eight out of 10 expect to attain a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Department of Education. But despite their aspirations, low-income students and those who are the first in their families to pursue higher education are severely underrepresented on college campuses. Studies show these students often lack the guidance they need to prepare for post-secondary education.

    • College student with "neither parent having received a four-year college degree".
    • At Rutgers-New Brunswick we think of it more as any student who may self-identify as not having prior exposure to or knowledge of an experience like Rutgers and may find having resources to assist in the transition helpful
    • According to the U.S. Department of Education and Higher Education Act of 1965, “the term ‘first-generation college student’ means— (A) An individual both of whose parents did not complete a baccalaureate degree; or (B) In the case of any individual who regularly resided with and received support from only one parent, an individual whose only such parent did not complete a baccalaureate degree.” Further, the Center for First-Generation Student Success notes, “While defining first-gen may appear overwhelming and complicated, it is important to remember why it is important. Because identification as a first-generation college student is most often self-reported in the matriculation process, there are inherent gaps in the data. Moreover, by not having a definition, it is nearly impossible for an institution to identify these students, track their academic and co-curricular progress, pinpoint needs for early intervention, highlight successes, measure critically important learning outcomes, and benchmark against other institutions and national data sets. Ultimately, the term ‘first-generation’ implies the possibility that a student may lack the critical cultural capital necessary for college success because their parents did not attend college. While first-generation students are often quite academically skilled and contribute in many ways to a campus community, navigating the tangled web of college policies, procedures, jargon, and expectations can be a challenge. This pervasive ‘hidden curriculum’ can damage the confidence of first-generation students, lead to struggles in belonging, and result in departure. This opens an opportunity for institutions to provide additional support for these students so they may be as competitive and successful as their peers."
    • 30% of students enrolled in post-secondary institutions today are low income, first-generation college students. 89% of these students will not earn a bachelor's degree six years out from high school. They drop out of college at four times the rate of their peers whose parents have a postsecondary education. There are myriad reasons that these students struggle to access and complete college.
    • Namely, their parents might lack the ability to guide them in the college process having not navigated it themselves and they are often in schools and communities where college counseling and college-minded peers are lacking or nonexistent.
    • Academic preparation is sometimes another factor, but motivation to pursue college is not in question. Research shows that low-income, first-generation college students aspire to attend college at rates equal to their higher-income peers whose parents have a college degree
    • RU1ST seeks to coordinate the support for first-generation students that occur on the New Brunswick campus at all of the undergraduate schools and departments with the aim to provide an opportunity to develop a sense of community for first-gen students at Rutgers–New Brunswick and help improve knowledge of and access to resources.
    • The RU1ST Alliance is a think-tank advisory for cross-division policy, research, and advocacy to enhance and support first-generation (FG) student success at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, coordinated by the Office of the Provost. The Alliance meets regularly to discuss best practices, examine resource needs by exploring student access and/or equity issues, recommend high-impact experiences, and maintain alignment with the website as a resource and directory of support for FG students. This coordination effort aims to increase the visibility of resources and services available across campus, as well as provide a clearinghouse of best practices to be shared among schools, academic, and co-curricular units. With cross-campus representation, the Alliance is charged to provide timely, ongoing recommendations to the Undergraduate Education Council and other academic and student affairs leaders, and to pivot with the changing needs for the support of all FG students as they may arise.
  • Education is a big investment, and finances should not be a barrier to your success at Rutgers. Looking for aid or scholarship opportunities? Rutgers offers funding for students based on financial need, exemplary academics, and other unique skills. There are also special funds set aside if you find yourself in an emergency situation. Need to pay your term bill or set up a tuition payment plan? Want some tips on how to best manage your money? That is available here, too. About 70% of Rutgers students work at least part-time while in school. A part-time job can be a great way to pay bills, build your resume, and grow your network. Research also shows that students who work part-time while in college not only learn valuable skills, but also tend to earn more when they graduate. Jobs are available both on- and off-campus. Some are designated for Federal Work Study students, others are not, and they cover a range of skills and interests. Check them out - you might find something you love.


    • You should be prepared to buy books in the first days of each semester. However, you don't have to do that at the bookstore; compare bookstore prices with what you can find online to get the best deal.
    • Plan to have some extra money each time you travel to and from campus.
    • When you first arrive you will probably need some extra furniture or accessory items for your room, like lamps, cooking supplies if you're interested in that, rugs, hangers, bedding/blankets, towels, etc.
    • We are committed to your success at Rutgers - including your timely degree completion, with minimal financial debt, employment or advanced study in your preferred field, and mastery of critical skills and competencies for post-graduate success. Enrolling and successfully completing 15 or more credits each semester will help put you on a path to timely graduation. Ensure you have the foundation in place to be successful. Explore these resources for financial assistance, to meet your academic needs, stay healthy, and be safe. Please visit for more detailed success essentials to support your timely degree completion.
    • You can find resources at your school by visiting and contacting the RU1st liaison at your school.
    • Additionally, at Rutgers there are many services provided to support your academic success including the RU1ST transition course, Learning Centers, Writing Centers, Byrne Seminars, FIGS-First-Year Interest Group Seminars, Cultural Collaborative, and so much more!
  • University Career Services provides resources to help explore your options including career counseling, resume review, and information on clusters.

    • Rutgers University – New Brunswick is committed to assisting students with making connections between their academic experience and their career paths. The university provides professional career-related advising, as well as resources and programs to help students: 
      • Discover their interests, values, and skills;
      • Explore careers and majors through connections with alumni or industry research;
      • Gain practical experience through internships and other experiential opportunities; and
      • Pursue their post-graduation goals, whether they be employment or graduate school. 

    The university has built relationships with alumni, prospective employers, and graduate schools to optimize opportunities while also maintaining strategic partnerships with campus departments to assist students. The Office of Career Exploration and Success, in partnership with campus career providers, offers the Rutgers Handshake platform as the primary source of internship and job postings. The system serves as your primary career management system.

    • CES coordinates the First-Generation Students Career Community to provide first-gen students with a helping hand as you navigate your way through Rutgers and beyond. The Community introduces students to resources and mentors to support guidance through their journey.  Additionally, The First-Generation Student Advisory Board includes campus representatives from Career Exploration and Success, Undergraduate Education, One Stop, Enrollment Management, DICE, EOF, and industry partners. This group collaborates to discuss community-specific career journey programming and student-alumni mentoring activities to best serve and support first-generation students. Also, the Board consults to discuss industry trend topics, and learn from each other on effective first-generation student outreach and service delivery strategies.
    • Academic advisors at the undergraduate schools for students to seek advice on issues including choosing a major, with “Rutgers is committed to helping all talented, hardworking students, regardless of background or situation, succeed in their academic work. Advising is led by each School and some groups and organizations offer additional advising resources, including those for adult learners, veterans, and first-generation students. Your success at Rutgers is always the first priority, and discussing any changing needs or circumstances with the appropriate staff before making decisions about your academics is key to your success.  If you need to make a change to your enrollment status or major, schedule a meeting with the advising office in your School to discuss pertinent processes and deadlines, and the impact on your academic progress. Rutgers’ academic advisors will provide you with guidance to best ensure your success and adherence to the university’s governing academic policies.
  • First-generation college students face all of the same struggles as their non-first-generation counterparts. However, there are some issues that are unique to this group. It is important for first-generation students to know that they are not alone and that there are resources available for them. First-generation students have a range of feelings about being the first in their family to attend and complete college. These feelings can include:

    • Excitement and Anxiety over being away from home at college, on their own, and the first in the family to attend college.
    • Responsibility to help pay for their education, perhaps even more so than students of higher socioeconomic status backgrounds.
    • Guilt and Shame about having the opportunity to attend college while others in the family had not been able or chosen to attend.
    • Embarrassment and Resentment over one’s socioeconomic status or the level of education in one’s family.
    • Confusion over the entire college process, from application to graduation to job or graduate school searches
    • Learn more about resources for parents and families at where you will find information about the Rutgers Parent and Family Association and Newsletter.
    • Attend Parent and Family Orientation to become knowledgeable about the resources/services available to your student since parent/family support is key to the academic success of college students.
    • Remind your students to make copies of all-important paperwork and to make sure to write down the name, department, date, and comments of the person they are speaking to when they contact different units on campus with questions.
    • Remember that pursuing higher education does not mean that students will lose the values they were raised with.
    • Your student may not be able to come home every weekend if they are living on campus—even if it is only 5 or 10 miles away and if they are living at home, they may not have the same amount of time to devote to family responsibilities as they did before.
    • Be patient with yourselves and one another, especially since this is a learning experience for everyone (both you and your student)—you will all be learning about this transition process together!
    • The pressure and stress that often comes with being in college.
    • To support me and try their best to understand what I am experiencing.
    • It is important for our parents to understand how hard college is and that the student will be under stress. The family should be supportive.
    • At times, students may feel overwhelmed and parents can be right there to support their children with words of encouragement. This goes a long way knowing that you believe in us!
  • You are not alone! Rutgers University has historically served first-generation students through various federal and state grant programs such as the Educational Opportunity Fund and TRIO Programs such as the pre-college outreach via Upward Bound, THRIVE Student Support Services, and the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. You can learn more about these programs and the DICE Educational Equity Group at

    • The New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) provides financial assistance and support services to eligible students such as counseling, tutoring, and developmental coursework to New Jersey students from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. EOF students can contact EOF Counselors at their respective academic school:
    • Being first can be hard; being first can be scary; being first can be exciting. As part of the first generation in your family to go to college, you are a source of pride and guidance to others.” Accordingly, Rutgers-New Brunswick’s Delta Pi Chapter of Alpha Alpha Alpha (Tri-Alpha) National Honor Society for First-Generation College Students was chartered in November 2022 to help strengthen community and support its scholars in their journeys of “firsts”. Founded at Moravian University in 2018, Tri-Alpha recognizes the academic achievements of first-generation college students, an outward recognition of personal accomplishment and an incentive for continued high scholarship. In 2023, the RU1ST Alliance was inducted into Tri-Alpha as an Honorary Member alongside the student inductees. Please contact the Delta Pi Chapter Co-Advisors for more information about eligibility requirements and member engagement.
    • The First-Generation Student Union (FGSU) was established at Rutgers-New Brunswick in 2017 as an officially recognized student organization. The purpose of FGSU is to build community amongst first-generation students and to help ease the transitions into new academic environments. FGSU provides students opportunities to network and strengthen a peer support system of others who identify as first-generation students, encourage students to learn, through discussion, how to navigate the University by way of the opportunities availed to them. FGSU also provides a platform for educating these first-generation students about issues and resources available to them through discussion and programming. Please contact FGSU’s OSI Advisor or Faculty/Staff Mentor for more information at
  • The path toward student success is a combination of academics, involvement, wellness, and spirituality. Successful students seek and utilize the many resources available to support their path toward graduation. Also, successful students find healthy ways to manage their time, money and maintain their health and motivation for staying in school. Rutgers provides academic support services to help students succeed in their courses, progress academically, and develop the skills and strategies necessary for success. Most students come to a point in their academics when they decide that working with other students or professional staff will benefit them. Whether you are finding a particular class more challenging than you anticipated or you just prefer to study with other people, tutoring or study group services may benefit you. There are a variety of services available on campus and online, such as one-on-one tutoring appointments, drop-in group tutoring, writing assistance, and weekly study groups. To find services that would best fit your needs and learning preferences, use the search tool below or browse the list of resources to identify which are available to you. Services provided by the University are free of charge. Some may be restricted to specific student groups. Please visit for detailed success essentials to support your timely degree completion.

Information for Transfer & International Students

  • You are a transfer student if:

    • You are a high school graduate/GED holder, and

    • You will have completed at least 12 college credits after leaving high school and a college transcript showing these courses and final grades earned will be submitted within the required due dates.

  • Transfer applicants should not complete the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) application. If you are a transfer student who has previously participated in the New Jersey EOF program at another NJ college, please do not complete the EOF application. In addition to submitting the FAFSA to the federal processor, you should submit an EOF Transfer Form from your previous NJ college where you were a recipient of the EOF grant or provide a statement from your previous EOF counselor/director certifying prior participation in their EOF program. This statement should be on your former NJ college's letterhead and mailed to the Office of University Undergraduate Admissions.

  • Transfer and Non-Traditional Student Orientation Programs are traditionally one day long. For more information on orientation dates and how to register, visit New Brunswick New Student Orientation's page.

    If you are a first-generation student who is transferring into Rutgers and need additional support, please contact us at to connect with someone who will be able to assist you during this transition.

  • Rutgers is home to more than 8,500 international students and scholars from about 125 countries around the world. They bring rich perspectives to campus that help to globalize our classrooms, labs, and clinics, contributing significantly to advancements in education, research, and service.

    Rutgers Global provides immigration-related advising and processing, and cross-cultural programs for international students and scholars, as well as their spouses and dependents.

    Rutgers Global conducts a comprehensive orientation for new international students every fall and spring semester. For more information and to register, please visit the International Student Orientation page.

Videos Related to RU1ST and Rutgers-New Brunswick First-generation Initiatives

  • Rutgers University Student Access and Educational Equity (SAEE) is a unit within the Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs-New Brunswick that provides academic, personal, career, financial aid advising, and financial literacy for first generation, low income and underrepresented students from high school through graduate and professional school. SAEE includes: Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math-Science (RUB), School of Arts & Sciences (SAS) and School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) EOF Programs, Student Support Services Program (SSS), Ronald E. McNair Program, and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP).

  • On the occasion of Access Week, Dr. Francine Conway introduces the Scarlet Guarantee, an exciting new program that will expand access and support for under-represented, first-generation, and limited-income college students.

  • In prior role as Provost, Chancellor Conway describes how her childhood commitment to learning motivates her to foster the success of underrepresented students, and commitment to equitable educational access and amplifying student voices.