First-Generation Students

As a first-generation student, the College of the Holy Cross is aware that you face unique challenges in applying, enrolling, and succeeding in college. We are committed to supporting you socially, academically, and financially — before you arrive on campus to graduation and beyond. 

Are you a first-generation college student?

If neither of your parents graduated from a four-year college or university, you are a first-generation college student. This is still true if your siblings have completed their bachelor's degree at a four-year institution. Being a first-generation student is a very proud accomplishment! 

Our commitment to educating first-generation students runs deep. Holy Cross is one of a select group of colleges that meet the full demonstrated financial need of students. In 2018, Holy Cross joined some of the nation’s top colleges and universities as part of the American Talent Initiative to substantially expand the number of talented lower-income and first-generation students at America’s undergraduate institutions with the highest graduation rates.

of our students are first-generation
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First-Gen Testimony

“Throughout my time on The Hill, I strongly identified with my first-generation student identity. I was lucky enough to see the creation of HCF1RST Scholars, our very own first-generation student organization, come to life and provide students with the resources they didn’t know existed. The people at Holy Cross are some of the most unique you may ever meet, so don’t be afraid to go out and meet everyone because they can help you fulfill all your goals and aspirations.” 

— David Rodriguez '19, Italian and psychology double major 

Logo for Center for First-Generation Student Success
First Scholars Network

In 2023, Holy Cross was designated a First Scholars institution by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation. The First Scholars designation recognizes higher education institutions that demonstrate an unprecedented commitment to serving first-generation students.

The Center for First-generation Student Success is the premier source of evidence-based practices, professional development and knowledge creation for the higher education community to advance the success of first-generation students. Through four strategic priority areas, the center drives higher education innovation and advocacy for first-generation student success. First Scholars serves as the Center’s customized approach to intentional institutional transformation in an effort to advance student outcomes. This work establishes an environment where direct student supports can be established, scaled, and sustained.

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Numerous programs and resources are available to help make your time at Holy Cross a success.

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Mentors and Allies

If you’re a faculty or staff member, learn about ways you can support first-generation students at Holy Cross.

students at ALANA event

In addition to serving first-generation alumni, the First-Gen Alumni Network guides and mentors current first-generation students.


The Office of Justice, Equity, Belonging, and Identity (JEBI) works to promote and further the College’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice. JEBI welcomes the diversity of our students and recognizes the many identities, experiences, and stories students bring, which serve to further enhance the richness of our campus life. We hope students find Holy Cross to be a campus community where they feel a sense of belonging, acceptance, and fulfillment. JEBI helps students find connections, resources, and opportunities for involvement, leadership, and service. Visit the JEBI webpage to learn more about the services provided by JEBI and contact the staff.

For more information or questions, email at