I am a first-generation student

two PSU students walking together

You come first at PSU

You may be in the first generation of your family to graduate with a four-year college degree, but at PSU you are not alone. More than one-third of our students are also first gen. We not only celebrate our first-generation students, we have built an entire campus community to support you. We recognize pursuing a bachelor’s degree is an important achievement, and we are so thrilled for you and your loved ones. Welcome to the first-gen community of students, staff, faculty and alumni at Portland State!

Nya Mbock

Finding the right fit

Nya Mbock, former Associated Students of PSU president, didn’t start her college career here, but once she transferred in 2019, the campus quickly became her home. “It’s been a really great fit for me,” she says. “It was a happy accident that the school I heard about growing up was totally right for me."

Monica Salazar

Hitting her stride

Distance runner Monica Salazar is proud to be a first-generation immigrant from Guatemala, where she has relatives rooting for her on and off the track. Her family’s journey inspired her to seek a nursing degree, and running taught her that “anything is possible if you trust yourself and just go for it.”

ALI JOSEPH & CHRIS JOSEPH

Giving back to their community

Chris Joseph ’12 and Ali Joseph ’12 turned their hobby into a nationally recognized distillery, Cascade Spirits, and started a scholarship for first-generation students at PSU. “I was a first-generation college student and want to make sure these students have the resources to focus on school,” Chris says.

Adan Ramos

Making his family proud

Adan Ramos, a first-year student, is hoping to make his family proud and set a good example for his younger siblings. A graduate of McMinnville High, Ramos was drawn to PSU because the urban campus offers a new opportunity for him. “I’ve never lived in the city and I wanted to try it out,” he says.


Student working on computer

Get help paying for college

The first  — and sometimes hardest — step to a college degree is figuring out how to pay for it. We offer a range of scholarships and tuition assistance for first-generation students. Our financial wellness coaches are here to talk with you about your options and help you make a plan, so you can graduate with more money for your future. 

Student talking

Connect on campus

From your application to your graduation, PSU gives you specialized support to help you navigate campus and classes. You can connect with mentors, advisors, and programs to show you the way. Explore all the opportunities at Bridges, an annual admissions event for first-generation students and students from ethnically diverse backgrounds — and we’ll help you take it from there.

  • Multicultural Retention Services: Programs for incoming students 
  • TRIO - Student Support Services: Academic support and advising to help you complete your degree
  • TRIO - McNair Scholars: Faculty mentoring and research opportunities to help prepare you to pursue a Ph.D. 
  • Empower: Support program for first-generation, Asian and Pacific Islander-identifying students  
  • Ganas: Program designed to help new Latino/a student's transition to PSU from high school 
  • Nations: Support services for Native American (N.A), Alaskan Native (A.N), and Indigenous students 
  • Access: Academic advising, college success classes, and tuition remission for first-year students 
Student talking with advisor

Academic support

We tailor our resources to fit your needs with free one-on-one advising, tutoring, and writing help. Get a head start on college success with our Summer Bridge Scholars Program.  Spanish tutoring is available for some subjects. 

students talking outside

You belong here

College isn’t only about classes. It’s also about you making new friends, learning new perspectives and exploring your interests. No matter where you come from, you belong at PSU. Our diverse urban campus offers endless opportunities to get involved.