First Generation College Students

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What is"first generation"?

The term “First Generation College Student” was created by the TRIO community and introduced into federal policy with the passage of the 1981 Higher Education Amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965. The term refers to college students whose parents/guardians did not earn a bachelor’s degree or higher.

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Why celebrate first generation?

November 8th was selected as the date for the Annual National First-Generation College Celebration to honor the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The Higher Education Act (“HEA”) emerged out of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. Much like other hallmark legislation of that era, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, HEA was intended to help level a playing field that for too long had been weighed against Americans from minority and low-income backgrounds. In addition to creating federal grants and loan programs to help students finance their educations, the legislation made key investments in institutions of higher education. Additionally, HEA ushered in programs, particularly the Federal TRIO programs, necessary for postsecondary access, retention, and completion for low-income, potential first-generation college graduates. (1)

Click here to learn more about the Higher Education Act of 1965, the creation of Federal TRIO programs, and the history of National First-Generation College Celebration from NASPA.

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How does Mesa Community College celebrate?

MCC TRIO, in collaboration with the campus community, holds an annual celebration. The celebration typically includes a weeks worth of events that include workshops, a resource fair, music and more.

To learn about this years celebration, visit our First Generation College Celebration page.

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(1) “First-Generation College Celebration.” About the Center for First-Generation Students,