The following is a company-submitted press release and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of College Planning & Management magazine.

Value Colleges Offers $2,500 Scholarship for First-Generation College Students

CHARLOTTE, NC — Value Colleges, an independent online guide to the best values in undergraduate and graduate college education, is now accepting applications for its Me First! 2016 Scholarship for first-generation college students.

The winning applicant will be awarded a one-time scholarship of $2.500 to offset tuition costs for students in a regionally accredited undergraduate degree program. Only students who are the first, in their immediate family, to attend college are eligible. Applications for the Me First! 2016 Scholarship close April 1, 2016 at midnight. The winner will be notified by April 30.

“The number of first-generation students in college is growing, as the children of immigrants and working-class families realize that college is the key to middle-class stability and social mobility,” explains Value Colleges editor, Carrie Sealey-Morris. With the 2008 recession and subsequent shifts in employment patterns, working-class and middle-class families were hit hardest, leading many young people to be the first in their families to attend college and graduate school.

“Many first-generation students face obstacles that students, whose parents attended college, do not encounter,” Sealey-Morris explains. Young people from families whose parents did not attend college, on average, have less than half the income to draw on than families with two college graduates — $40,000 vs. $90,000. Because they are starting at a financial deficit, “First-generation students are more likely to need employment while attending school, more likely to need loans, and more likely to take out less-than-fair private loans to make ends meet.”

Value Colleges is offering a little help along the way. At many public four-year universities, $2,500 will cover a semester of tuition, and while tuition rates are rising and added fees can be substantial, $2,500 can still go a long way.

The winner will be selected based on a short application essay with the prompt “Why Me?” Applicants are encouraged to explain what aspects of their family circumstances and personal character has motivated them to be the first of their family to attend college.

Above all, Sealey-Morris says, Value Colleges wants to help first-generation students overcome any obstacles in their way, so that they can “excel in their program, complete their degree, and pass on to future generations the possibility of obtaining a college degree.” A college degree is still one of the most effective ways to ensure a higher salary and more stable lifestyle, not only for the graduate, but also for the graduate's children and grandchildren. Statistics show that the children of college graduates are far more likely to go to college. One brave step now can mean a brighter future for generations to come.

Value Colleges is an independent, online resource with one mission: to help prospective students find the best educational value in their chosen field. At Value Colleges, future students can find rankings for the top investments in online and residential college degrees, advice on making the best decisions about finances when in college  and explanations of commonly misunderstood aspects of college costs.

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