First-Generation Students

Many Catholic colleges and universities were founded with the mission of serving immigrants. Today, that mission continues on campuses across the United States. Learn some of the ways Catholic higher education is assisting first-generation students:

  • “Catholic Higher Ed: Serving First-Gen and Low-Income Students,” featured in a recent edition of ACCU’s newsletter, Update, highlights several successful programs on Catholic campuses across the country.
  • Twenty-three ACCU member institutions participate in I’m First!, an online community providing first-generation college students—and those who advise them—with inspiration, information, and support from admissions to graduation. Graduates
  • With a majority of students being first-generation attendees, University of the Incarnate Word has programs in place for support and mentoring, including the First Year Engagement Team of faculty and peer mentors, and the Student Support Services TRIO program.
  • Benedictine University’s (IL) First-Generation program includes a summer bridge program for first-semester students, outreach to parents, student success and advising centers, admissions timeline and financial aid assistance, and even a “Benedictionary” of common college terms.
  • Nearly 60 percent of Notre Dame de Namur University’s (CA) class of 2015 were the first in their families to attend college. NDNU’s Gen-1 program provides instruction in personal skills such as time management and financial literacy, and promotes academic success through individual counseling, a learning strategies course, and peer mentor program. One-on-one coaching is offered through the InsideTrack program.
  • The University of St.Thomas (TX) reaches out to first-generation students and parents to provide a support network that promotes success. The FirstGen program helps clarify the college experience for families, eases the transition to college, and creates opportunities for regular discussions, interactions, and mentoring.
  • DePaul University offers a number of programs aimed at first-generation degree attainment, including free remedial courses for entering freshman, two TRIO programs, and student support through mentoring, small class sizes, career development, and advocacy for students in crisis.
  • The SOAR and STARS programs at Loyola University of Chicago are designed to help ease the transition to college for first-generation students, and provide support on multiple levels. In addition, the university opened the doors of Arrupe College of Loyola University of Chicago in 2015, a two-year associate degree program for students with limited financial resources and an interest in attending a four-year institution after graduation.
  • More than 90 percent of Donnelly College’s students are first-generation attendees. Low tuition, an intensive community ESL program, and the Gateway to College help ensure student success.


ACCU members: Tell us about your efforts to assist first-generations students! Send your information to



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