firstgen students speaking in a panelThe First-Generation Student Program is grounded in a history of student activism. First-Generation College Students @UM, a student organization, was founded in 2007 with the mission to increase accessibility to resources for first-generation students and to build community among the population. The students advocated for greater campus support for themselves and other peer first-generation students. In 2017, University of Michigan hired the inaugural first First-Generation Program Manager, established the First-Generation Gateway Office, and launched multiple initiatives to increase first-generation student success. As a result, student engagement has increased significantly since 2017 and University of Michigan’s first-generation efforts have received national recognition.

We’re collecting and sharing stories from other first-generation college students and graduates to inspire and offer advice to current and future first gens. We’ve also compiled useful information about college life, paying for college and other programs and services.

Above all, we hope this site helps you open doors and connect with U-M’s community of first-generation students and those who will support and encourage you throughout your journey.

Defining "First-Generation College Student"
at the University of Michigan

At the University of Michigan, we define first-generation college students as individuals whose parents or guardians have not attained a four-year college degree. This inclusive definition applies to both undergraduate and graduate students. While the University of Michigan adheres to this definition, all signature events organized by the University of Michigan’s First-Generation Student Gateway are accessible to any student who believes these resources could benefit them.
The term “first-generation” was initially coined within TRIO Support Services to underscore the unique challenges faced by students with multiple intersecting identities as they embark on their higher education journey (Jehangir & Romasanta, 2021). This terminology seeks to shed light on the fact that the structures of higher education were not originally designed with the needs of first-generation college students in consideration. The services and programs developed in response to this term aim to provide support to students encompassing all aspects of their identities, with a primary objective of enhancing accessibility to higher education for all.
Jehangir, R. R. & Romasanta, L. (2021). How TRIO sparked the fire that fuels the first-generation movement: An interview with Arnold Mitchem and Maureen Hoyler. Journal of First-generation Student Success, 1(1), 3-19. DOI: 10.1080/26906015.2021.1893538

To Be a FirstGen Student

Campus-EventsIt takes courage and determination to break new ground and try new things, to be FIRST. This includes being among the first in your family to attend and graduate from college.  While going off to college can be challenging for all students, it can be especially intimidating for even the bravest first gens.

Famous FirstGen



3009 Student Activities Building
515 E. Jefferson
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

(734) 936-1055

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