Scholarships: Putting Study Abroad Within Your Reach
IFSA-Butler First Generation College Student Program
  • Scholarship value: Maximum $2,500 (see expenses and reimbursement breakdown below)
  • Minimum GPA: 2.7 (4.0 scale)
  • No financial need requirements
  • Applicants submit a 500 word essay, a Cv/resume and the completed Financial Footprint.
  • Application deadlines:
    October 1 for spring/semester 1/calendar year
    March 1 for fall/semester 2/academic year
  • Send questions and application materials to: Becki Niccum


First generation college students have some of the lowest study abroad participation rates among U.S. college students, and IFSA-Butler wants to change that. Our new, achievement-based scholarship program offers first generation college students significant financial, academic and preprofessional support for study abroad on a semester or year IFSA-Butler program.

Applicants to the First Generation Scholar Program must complete and return the Financial Footprint form. Click here to download the form.

What's Covered?

Reimbursements and Expenses Covered

Reimbursements and expenses covered include:

  • IFSA-Butler group flight or suggested flight (approximately $1,500 value)
  • Student visa fee reimbursement, where applicable ($100-$500 value, depending on country)
  • Passport fee reimbursement (approximately $150 value)
  • Up to $500 housing scholarship (depending on flight and visa costs)
  • Specialized predeparture information
  • First Generation Parent Publication
  • Student Blog
  • Resume Building/Reentry Workshop

Why are so many up-front costs covered by this scholarship?
The proposition of study abroad—with its associated procedures, cost, documentation, visas, academic planning and inevitable geographic separation—is often daunting and discouraging. For this reason, the First Generation Scholar Program combines scholarships in the form of discounts, as well as up-front capital for passport, visa fees and airline tickets.

Why a resume building workshop?
First generation college students tend to have more vocation-driven goals and see university as a means to a profession, rather than the "transformative experience" that so permeates the traditionally academic elite. Recipients of the First Generation Scholar Program, as well as all other IFSA-Butler "first gens," can participate in a post-study abroad resume building session to better encapsulate and articulate skills they've built abroad. Butler University Career Services will help design and lead this online resume building session.

What's not covered

What costs are not covered by this scholarship?
Tuition, tuition supplemental fees, meals, deposits and housing supplemental fees are not covered by this scholarship. Please note that this scholarship is awarded to students studying on IFSA-Butler programs only.

Selection Criteria

IFSA-Butler considers the following factors in choosing First Generation Scholars:

  • Minimum GPA: 2.7 (4.0 scale)
  • No financial need requirements, but a Financial Footprint is required for committee review
  • Applicants submit a 500 word essay, a CV/resume and the completed Financial Footprint. See Essays tab for essay topics.
  • Special consideration will be given to students applying to one of our Spotlight Programs. See the Spotlight Programs tab for more information.

We know that not everyone is a great writer, but we want to give everyone an opportunity to tell us their story and more about themselves. We recommend the following resume and essay writing help sites: Essay Writing Guidelines

Scholarship Essay Writing Tips


The First Generation Scholar Program is a competitive scholarship, and the quality of an applicant's essay is the most influential criteria in the selection of recipients. We encourage applicants to read previous recipients' essays as examples of strong, compelling stories about the first generation college experience. Click on the Recipients and Essays tab on this page, and check out the following essay writing tips online: Essay Writing Guidelines

Scholarship Essay Writing Tips

Please submit your essay and CV/resume in Word or PDF to Becki Niccum by the application deadline. Be sure to include the following:

  • Name
  • Home university
  • IFSA-Butler study abroad program/country of interest

Each applicant should choose one essay topic from the options below:

  1. As a first-generation college student, you have undoubtedly gained special skills to help you succeed in uncharted territory of the U.S. academic system. You'll now need to draw upon many of these proficiencies to help you adjust in a brand new culture and education system. Tell us what skills you'll have at your disposal to help you adjust, learn and succeed while you're abroad. What is it that drives and challenges you to continue expanding your comfort zone? How might study abroad, and this program in particular, assist you in achieving your goals?

  2. Recreate a dialogue in which you discuss your motivation to study abroad with your family and/or other personal stakeholder. Why do you want to study abroad? What will it help you achieve? What are their hesitations or concerns? How did/will you address those? How will your decision to study abroad affect your family and community in the long run?

Tell your first generation college story in your own voice! Your story doesn't have to be dramatic, just engaging and reflective.

Spotlight Programs

IFSA-Butler offers several programs that are willing to provide specialized support to our First Gen scholars, along with additional assistance from our on-site resident staff. These locations have been identified as spotlight programs for their great academics, pre-professional support and discipline areas and affordability.

Students applying for the First Generation College Student Scholarship are given special consideration if they are applying for one of these IFSA-Butler programs.

For Parents & Families

IFSA-Butler takes special care to provide assistance and additional support to parents and families of first generation college students. We know that the study abroad process—with complicated travel arrangements, visa applications, unfamiliar academics and the mysteries of a different culture, to name a few—can be daunting. We work closely with our students' families to make the application process, predeparture preparations and in-country adjustment as smooth as possible.

We recommend the following resources for parents and families of first generation college students interested in study abroad:


Share your story!
In order to facilitate articulating their experiences and help future students understand the value of study abroad, the First Generation Scholars will be required to chronicle their story before, during and after their time abroad in blog form. At least a portion of their blog entries will be guided by a series of questions specifically addressing their experience as a "first gen" abroad. These blogs can also be a powerful resume builder. Read our student blogs!

Recipients and Essays

Spring 2015

Congratulations to our Spring 2015 scholarship recipients! All of our recipients submitted an outstanding essay and a resume as part of the application process. Below are PDF versions of their winning essays.

aaronAaron Rowbotham, University of Alaska Anchorage
Read Aarons's essay









Ashley Christopherson, Franklin & Marshall College
Read Ashley's essay



Janisa San Agustin, Saint Martin's University
Read Janisa's essay


Lauren Lyons, Sewanee: The University of the South

Read Lauren's essay


Niyo Moraza-Keeswood, Brown University

Read Niyo's essay





Fall 2014

Congratulations to our Fall 2014 scholarship recipients! All of our recipients submitted an outstanding essay and a resume as part of the application process. Below are PDF versions of their winning essays.

dulceDulce Castañeda, Northwestern University
Read Dulce's essay








Erik Liu, Davidson College
Read Erik's essay



Melissa Atkins, University of Redlands
Read Melissa's essay


Sandra Loyola, The George Washington University

Read Sandra's essay


Shaketta Reliford, Gustavus Adolphus College

Read Shaketta's essay




Spring 2014

Congratulations to our spring 2014 scholarship recipients! All of our recipeints submitted an outstanding essay and a resume as part of the application process. Below are PDF versions of their winning essays.

caleb-bradfordCaleb Bradford, Princeton University
Read Caleb's essay









Danielle Palmieri, Connecticut College
Read Danielle's essay



Genessi de los Santos, American University
Read Genessi's essay


Nicole Hough, Westminster College

Read Nicole's essay


Allison Wolter, Butler University





Fall 2013

Congratulations to our fall 2013 scholarship recipients! All of our recipeints submitted an outstanding essay and a resume as part of the application process. Below are PDF versions of their winning essays.

Ashley Adams, Davidson College
Read Ashley's essay

Karina Casanova, Brandeis University
Read Karina's essay

Keith Mattern,  Bucknell University
Read Keith's essay

Odalmy Molina, Brown University
Read Odalmy's essay

Sandy Xiong, Gustavus Adolphus College
Read Sandy's essay

Spring 2013

Congratulations to our spring 2013 scholarship recipients! Below are PDF versions of their winning essays and links to their blogs.

matthew beck



Matthew Beck, Harvard University
Read Matthew's essay

Visit Matthew's blog



caitlin caswell



Caitlin Caswell, Austin College
Read Caitlin's essay

Visit Caitlin's blog



laney lenox



Laney Lenox, Millsaps College
Read Laney's essay

Visit Laney's blog




Sehrish Shikarpuriya, Emory University
Read Sehrish's essay

Visit Sehrish's blog



2013s-karly999-999-profilesKarly Ziegler, McDaniel College
Read Karly's essay

Visit Karly's blog





Congratulations to our fall 2012 scholarship recipient, Emily Buss. Below is a PDF of her winning essay and a link to her blog.

147Read Emily's essay

Visit Emily's blog






Digital Stories

Emily Buss, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Argentine Universities Program
Identity During Study Abroad

Institute for Study Abroad, Alliance For Global Education and MORE CULTURE. LESS SHOCK. are registered marks of the Institute for Study Abroad, Inc.