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Is Adopted Student Considered "First Generation"??

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,773 Senior Member
edited September 2013 in Ask The Dean Topics
Question: I have a question about what qualifies as first generation. My mom and dad both graduated from college, but I am adopted. My birth father is unknown and my birth mother did not even finish high school. I know this is not this is not how most people look at this situation but adoption [...]

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Post edited by Sally_Rubenstone on

Replies to: Is Adopted Student Considered "First Generation"??

  • HuntHunt Registered User Posts: 26,917 Senior Member
    Were you adopted as an infant? If so, I think there is a certain air of unpleasantness in trying to assert this claim. Your adoptive parents are your parents.
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Registered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    Sally, it amazes me that as the leader of this site, you even bring up such questions as if they are debate-worthy. Of course the answer is exactly what Hunt said -- the adoptive parents are your parents and that's that.
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,773 Senior Member
    Pizzagirl: Hunt and I both raised the question of when this student was adopted, which is not mentioned in her query and yet might play a major role in determining how she is viewed. For instance, if she had been adopted out of foster care, then her adoptive parents are not necessarily treated like biological parents for scholarship purposes. More than a dozen states have special grants or tuition waivers for students who were in foster care before adoption, regardless of their adoptive parents' income and assets. Similarly, an applicant who is older and adopted from foster care might be viewed as First Gen by some institutions.
  • NofamilyIDNofamilyID Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    I have just one question....are you adopted? As an adoptee myself there are feelings nobody understands unless they are in my shoes. Why can't I and should be considered first generation college. My birth parents never even finished high school. That is one of the few things I do know about them. I have medical conditions just I will never share with my adoptive family. They took care of me growing up but while it may make me cold, we are so different it's like night and day with us. I share so little with them why should my education and the ability to qualify for scholarships be any different. I have spent my whole life knowing I'm different. There are scholarships for every religion, nationality, etc. why should those of us adopted be any different?
  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 21,637 Super Moderator
    For instance, if she had been adopted out of foster care, then her adoptive parents are not necessarily treated like biological parents for scholarship purposes.

    there are a number of different thresholds when it comes to aid/scholarships for foster youth.

    If a student was adopted out of the foster care system after the age of 13, they would be considered independent for federal aid as FAFSA directly addresses this question:
    FAFSA wrote:

    At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?

    Dependency Status | Federal Student Aid

    However, your parents income/assets will still be needed when it comes to institutional aid.

    If a college bound student is in foster care after the age of 16, they would be eligible for ETV voucher up to 5k/year up until age 23

    Education and Training Voucher (ETV) is an annual federal grant provided to states to fund youth who have aged out of the foster care system and who are enrolled in college, university and vocational training programs.


    Again, if the student is adopted, the school will ask for the parents (adoptive) income/assets for awarding institutional aid.
  • footballmom104footballmom104 Registered User Posts: 1,064 Senior Member
    I have spent my whole life knowing I'm different. There are scholarships for every religion, nationality, etc. why should those of us adopted be any different?

    Kind of a hijack, but right on, NofamilyID!
  • LBowieLBowie Registered User Posts: 1,788 Senior Member
    NofamilyID - those nationality specific or religious scholarships were presumably initiated and are funded by various organizations. Maybe it would be a good idea for someone to start a scholarship fund for adoptees. It might be an impressive extracurricular activity if you pulled it off, as long as there was no conflict of interest (i.e. you are not raising funds for your own benefit.)
  • CuriousJaneCuriousJane Registered User Posts: 820 Member
    As an adoptive parent, I think that scholarships for adopted people make sense. It's a unique situation, and there are certainly scholarships for people in other specific circumstances.

    At the same point, I don't think it makes sense to include individuals who are adopted early in life into families with college educated parents in programs for "first generation" students. I think that the situations of the two groups are very different.
  • tutordhaustutordhaus Registered User Posts: 52 Junior Member
    I was adopted at about age 2 and know no one else as my family. It may be different for later adoptees, but it is my impression that, for the most part, people adopted at very young ages are "closer" to their adoptive families than others.

    I have the added interesting situation of being of a different race than my parents. I know no one else but my awesome mother and father as parents. My father has a PH. D. and my mother is also well educated. My parents read to us as children (I have 6 siblings - all of us adopted!) and none of us doubted that we could succeed.

    Under no circumstances should I have been considered "first generation". I don't think any did...
  • MareekahMareekah Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Regarding First-Generation Status: we have family who have promised to help pay for our son's college. (He's a HS Jr) He was adopted as an infant from a foreign country and is a different race. I'm not going to be asking for financial aid for him. However, he has disabilities related to the circumstances of his birth (malnutrition & war refugee status of birth mom). In order to be academically successful, he has needed tutors in every subject, accommodations and he must work twice as hard as his peers. He's getting As & Bs. My husband and I are jet-bomber parents--because we want him to be able to go to college and live an independent & productive life. I understand the argument against seeking 1st Gen status for financial aid if the adoptive parents can pay for it. However, some schools have amazing 1st-Gen support programs that last throughout college--free tutoring, assigned counselor ; peer programs etc. my son would benefit greatly from this. Thoughts?
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,773 Senior Member
    @Mareekah -If you or your husband--the boy's parents--attended college, then your son will not be considered 'First Gen" because he grew up in a household with college-educated parents, regardless of his birth parents' backgrounds. However, he may be eligible for diversity scholarships at some of his target colleges. Not all colleges, however, offer these scholarships but some do.
  • preppedparentpreppedparent Registered User Posts: 3,116 Senior Member
    No, it's not that cut and dry as you or others would like it to be. If you are adopted, those are your parents. No. Birthparents are important in an individual's life experience. Yes, adopted kids may have had some privileges if adoptive parents are college educated, but many have such downsides, questioning why they were given up, or who they look like, what talents or weaknesses they inherited etc. Kids who are not adopted or first gen kids don't have to deal with those challenges. I would argue that adopted kids have significant challenges to overcome and if their birthparents are not college educated, they still have significant hurdles to overcome in how they see themselves and if they are "college worthy." This is the biggest segment of URM applicants that colleges just don't get.
  • techmom99techmom99 Registered User Posts: 2,484 Senior Member
    There are scholarships for adopted children from Russia/Ukraine and those for people adopted out of foster care and other things in between. I did a quick google search and found a bunch.

    Both H and I were first gen college in our families but I don't think anyone cared about that back in our day.
  • preppedparentpreppedparent Registered User Posts: 3,116 Senior Member
    ^^not scholarships...college admissions. Adopted kids should be considered on par with first gen. And many have birthparents not college educated. Even if they do, they have significant hardships and disadvantages to overcome and should be considered URM's in the college admin process--which they are not.
  • BreHicksBreHicks Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Would it be a good idea to right about my being adopted for this prompt? "Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story."
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