Breaking Barriers: Jax State's Trailblazing Support for First-Generation Students Shines Through Scholarships and Commitment to Success


First Gen Student Holding an I'm First StickerJacksonville State University has long been known as a university dedicated to helping first-generation students fulfill their dreams of attaining a college degree. The faculty and staff on the Friendliest Campus in the South take pride in helping these students blaze a trail, providing mentorship and encouragement. But the university is also providing substantial financial support to this special population of students. 

In Fall 2023, 92% of Jax State students who identified themselves as the first in their families to pursue a four-year degree received a scholarship to support their education. With financial burdens often serving as the main barrier preventing a first-generation student from meeting their goals, the university is committed to alleviating this burden. 

“We understand that affordability is a major factor for our first-generation students and families when choosing a college and our scholarships are just one way that Jax State is providing support for these students and families,” said Jessica Wiggins, associate vice president for enrollment management. 

In 2023, the Center for First-generation Student Success invited Jax State to join its First Scholars Network due to the university's commitment to improving experiences and advancing success for first-generation college students. An initiative of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and The Suder Foundation, the program is dedicated to effectively and equitably driving first-generation student success across education, career and life. 

As a member of the First Scholars Network, Jax State is implementing a plan to improve its support programs for first-generation students, focused on the following goals: 

  1. Establish a method for collecting information about first-generation students and their needs and experiences
  2. Develop a branded marketing initiative to inform the campus community of the programs and services developed for first-generation students
  3. Develop communities of first-generation students to foster a sense of belonging and support
  4. Develop intentional programs and activities to support the needs of first-generation students
  5. Identify first-generation faculty, staff and supporters and provide opportunities for education, engagement and mentorship
  6. Create a guide for first-generation student to demystify collegiate lingo and explain the intricacies of campus life
  7. Establish an endowed scholarship for first-generation students 

"Nationwide data shows that financial burdens are the primary reason first-generation students leave their college or university,” said Josh Robinson, Jax State dean of students. “We want to change this narrative at the Friendliest Campus in the South! At least one in three students at Jax State is a first-generation college student. Our goal is to help ease some of the financial stress first-generation students may experience so they can focus on their educational journey." 

Want to make a difference in the lives of first-generation students at Jax State? Text FIRSTGEN to 91999 to give today!