First Generation Students

Looking to get a First Gen Proud t-shirt? Stop by the office (Highsmith 301) anytime Monday-Friday 9am-5pm to pick one up!

Who is a First Generation College Student?

There is no single definition of a First Generation Student. A basic definition is that a First Generation Student is any individual whose primary supporters did not receive a 4-year college degree

First Generation students may also be students who

  • Have a sibling that received a college degree before them
  • Have a parent who received a college degree, but did not have a close/supportive relationship with that parent
  • Have parents who attended college but did not graduate with a degree
  • Have parents who received college degrees, but were raised by other supporters
  • Are the first in either their maternal or paternal side of the family to receive a degree, but not both
  • Generally feel that they are not equipped with the same social capital to navigate through college as the majority of the student population

There are many nuances to this definition and any student who feels that they could benefit from the extra support, connection, and services that our office provides to First Generation students is more than welcome to use them.

How many students are First Generation?


All of the following statistics are according to the Office of Institutional Research, Effectiveness, and Planning who defines First Generation students as, “students for whom one or both parents could have attained up to an associate’s degree but not beyond.”

  • 2022-2023: 19% of students at UNCA are First Generation College Students
  • 2021-2022: 20% of students at UNCA were first-generation

You can view and interact with the most up to date enrollment demographic information using the Institutional Facts Directory.

In the nation

  • As of academic year 2015-16, 56% of undergraduates nationally were first-generation college students (neither parent had a bachelor’s degree), and 59% of these students were also the first sibling in their family to go to college.
  • 21% of Gen Z students are first generation college attendees. (Statista) The survey conducted on 14,000 respondents reveals the percentage of first generation college students born after 1997. About a fifth of them say they are the first ones in their family to attend college.


First Gen Proud Logo

Celebrate your First Generation College Student Identity by adding this logo to your email signature. Learn how here!