First-Generation @ Penn State


I am a proud First Gen advocate

Thousands of Penn Staters will be the first in their families to complete a baccalaureate degree!

There are nearly 17,000 first-generation undergraduate students enrolled in a residential academic program through Penn State. This makes up roughly 25% of Penn State's undergraduate student population at University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses combined! There are several ways to define first-generation when used in a college or university setting. Penn State recognizes first-generation students as any student whose immediate parents or legal guardians have not completed a baccalaureate degree.

Many first-generation students do not realize that they're first-generation until they arrive at college, but often feel as though they are experiencing college differently than their peers who are not first-gen. Most first-generation students are pioneering a new path for themselves/their families and may face unique challenges as they work toward completing their degrees. Penn State welcomes all first-generation students and values the contributions that first-gen students bring to each and every one of our campuses. The Student Success Center is here to help first-generation students navigate the collegiate experience, coach them through challenges, and celebrate their successes and many contributions.

The Student Success Center in partnership with our colleagues in student affairs, academic affairs, and educational equity work to provide resources and support that is specifically tailored to meet the needs of Penn State's first-generation student population. We invite you to read below to learn more about our events and initiatives and connect with us to share your story or join our community!



Penn State has been recognized as a First-Gen Forward (FGF) institution by NASPA’s Center for First-Generation Student Success. This designation means that Penn State has joined a cohort of 53 institutions within a larger community of 268 colleges and universities committed to sharing evidence-based practices and resources, troubleshooting challenges, and generating knowledge to advance the success of first-generation students.

While the Student Success Center in Undergraduate Education is leading this effort, the FGF designation is University-wide and represents the Institution's collective efforts to support first-generation students enrolled across the Commonwealth and World Campus. As part of our land grant mission, Penn State has always been a champion for first-generation student success. To this end, there are dozens of existing programs and services that serve first-generation students and their intersecting identities.

Our FGF designation is a new opportunity for Penn State to band together to address challenges, identify support gaps, and bolster support for first-gen student success. As such, the Student Success Center has created the First Gen Forward Advisory Council which is comprised of faculty, staff, administrators, and students from across the University. The council meets monthly and contributes to university-wide efforts to support first-gen students, enhance student advocacy, share best practices, and promote professional development opportunities. For information on the FGF advisory council please email