How do post-secondary schools like Queen's University support first generation students?

Schools in Ontario offer first generation students grants to help them pay for university or college. 

What is a first-generation student?

First generation students are learners whose parents never went to post-secondary school. They often face both financial and non-financial barriers to accessing higher education.

Parents who did not go to university or college usually earn less than families who got undergraduate or graduate degrees. They have less resources to help their children pay for school, so first generation students often have to find work or take out more loans to cover tuition and other educational costs. 

Because parents of first generation students never had the experience of going to college or university, they are less equipped to help them prepare for school. Students from families who went to a post-secondary school, meanwhile, have a leg up because they get informed advice and support about higher education. 

Newcomers whose parents went to school in their home country also face these struggles, and have to figure a lot of things out about applying and preparing for school without their parents. 

How does the Ontario government support first generation students?

First generation students are under-represented in post-secondary schools because of the barriers they face. 

To encourage and support first generation students to go to university or college, the government offers bursaries for first generation students through the schools they get accepted to. 

The Ontario First Generation Bursary awards eligible students between $1,000 to $3,500. Students don’t have to apply for OSAP to be considered for this bursary. They can use their school’s First Generation Bursary application to be considered for the grant.  

To be eligible for the bursary, students must:

  • Attend a publicly-assisted college or university in Ontario
  • Have parents who never studied at post-secondary schools anywhere in the world
  • Be enrolled in a first-entry undergraduate program
  • Not already have a post-secondary degree, diploma or certificate
  • Not be receiving assistance through the Second Career program
  • Meet the Canadian citizenship and Ontario residency requirements for OSAP
  • Meet the financial need and any other criteria defined by their school

What supports are available through Queen University's First Generation Admission Pathway?

At Queen’s, the First-Generation Admission Pathway offers comprehensive support for students as they navigate post-secondary education.

Through the First-Generation Admission Pathway, eligible students are able to receive:

  • General Application Advice (e.g. assistance with supplementary essays)
  • Academic and Career Advising
  • Financial Planning (e.g. scholarships and bursaries)
  • Workshops and Sessions
  • 1-1 Meetings with an Admissions Representative
  • Campus Visits
  • Mentorship Opportunities
  • More!

In addition, a key component of the First-Generation Admission Pathway is our team of equity ambassadors, who are a diverse group of holistically trained undergraduate students that engage with prospective applicants to share their experiences at Queen’s and offer support in accessing post-secondary from a student lens. First-Generation students are welcome to meet with our Equity Ambassadors at our regular webinars, drop-in zoom sessions, or workshops hosted by your community partner to experience post-secondary from a student perspective!

To qualify for the pathway, prospective students simply need to be a part of one of the community organizations that’s partnered with Queen’s University:

If you’re a first-generation student thinking of applying to Queen’s University, contact to get in touch with a First-Generation Recruitment Representative.