What does being “first-generation” mean? At Yale, being “first-generation” (commonly shortened to “first-gen”) is defined by identifying as a student whose parents, or legal guardians, did not attend college, whether a 2-year or a 4-year institution, making them and their siblings, the first generation in their families to attend college.
- It is important to note that, while its definition is separated from other forms of identity (i.e. racial/ethnic background, gender), it is a condition that arises and is largely influenced by other aspects, such as race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status, given the changes related to college access throughout the history of the country (Nguyen & Nguyen 2018).
What does being “low-income” mean? Being “low-income” refers to coming from a lower socioeconomic background. For the sake of consistency in conversations here on campus, this is defined by Pell Grant eligibility.
- However, our community also includes students who may have experienced being under-resourced in a variety of ways, including previous educational opportunities, exposure to social and cultural diversity, and a lack of connection with a parent or guardian.
Naturally, first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students are those that identify with both conditions.
- While it is often difficult to compromise on a specific definition for “first-generation” and “low-income” from context to context, it is helpful to focus on how these identities allow for inherent challenges in the college-going experience of FGLI students—namely, the lack of a personal social connection with the college they attend prior to matriculation, and the lack of financial resources that make educational resources less accessible.