Students relax on the grass

First-Generation Students

Do you identify as a first-generation student?

If neither of your parents has completed a four-year degree, then Grinnell College considers you a first-generation student. Even if that isn’t exactly your situation, all of the resources described below are available to you. 

Why is the first-generation identity important?

Navigating the college search process, completing applications, filling out financial aid forms — these tasks are challenging for everyone. But when you don’t have a parent or guardian with experience doing this work, it falls mostly on you. That’s a lot.

A few tips related to money and financial aid:

  • There’s no application fee to apply to Grinnell.
  • Grinnell is need-blind — that means when you apply for admission, your ability to pay tuition isn’t part of our decision making (for US students).
  • We meet 100% of your demonstrated need with scholarships, grants, and work-study. Loans aren’t part of our aid packages because we want you to graduate debt-free.
  • Cartoon view of a young woman walking into a room

    A student's view

    What it’s like to be first-generation at Grinnell

    Cinthia Romo ’20 is a first-generation student who applied to Grinnell through QuestBridge. She felt supported by Grinnell in multiple ways — financially, academically, and socially. Her advice: “You should absolutely pursue and explore everything your heart draws you to.” 

  • Carolyn Lewis, professor of history and a first-generation student

    Faculty and staff views

    We see you

    Grinnell College recognizes that your experience as a first-gen student is different. Plenty of our faculty and staff were first-generation students themselves. They understand and want to help.

Resources and support

Tap into Grinnell’s many opportunities to help you develop your whole self.
Students bouncing in a bounce house on campus

Health and wellness

  • Student Health and Wellness: You’ll have access to physical and mental health services on campus at no additional cost and help connecting with off-campus healthcare providers as needed.
  • Health insurance: You can continue to be covered by your family’s insurance or purchase student health insurance. 
Student has hand raised in a classroom, viewed from behind


Two students lift a folding table from a stack of them to help set up for reunion

Paying for college

  • Student employment: A campus job may be part of your financial aid or a way to earn some spending money.
  • No-loan initiative: If you receive need-based financial aid, a loan will not be part of the award. The goal is to help students graduate debt-free. 
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Get to know Grinnell

To determine if Grinnell is a place where you will feel a sense of belonging, we encourage you to

Even more resources

Funding for internships, fellowships, and more

Connect with admission and financial aid staff

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