First-generation programs designed for increased opportunities at Kent State

Pamela E. Jones, coordinator of the National Student Exchange Center, talks to students during an information session held by Trio about opportunities to study abroad on October 13, 2014.

Nathan Havenner

For students working toward a first-generation college degree, the university offers a variety of resources.

The Center for Student Opportunity, a national nonprofit organization founded in 2005, was created to empower first-generation college students and guide them through college.

Chelsea Jones, associate director of student programs for the Center For Student Opportunity, said first-generation college students are more likely to face academic and personal financial issues.

“The sheer fact of not knowing about financial aid process (could pose issues for students),” Jones said. “We are really teaching students how to budget their money (now).”

Jones said that applying for financial aid might seem difficult for first-generation students because they may not have a parent or guardian able to help them through the process, or willing to disclose the necessary financial information they need. 

Once the student takes the initial steps and enters college, they could still face problems with student aid, Jones said.

“One thing I’ve heard from a lot of students is (that they) don’t know come January of the next year, you have to complete (the financial aid process) all over again,” he said.

Another important aspect to teach first-generation students is the basics of balancing a budget and being financially responsible, Jones said. The Center for Student Opportunity launched a website to help students deal with these common issues.

“On our online platform, we do different photo chats on Google+ hangouts where we have experts from different fields talking about these areas,” Jones said.

Jones said the site covers topics like opening a checking account, writing a check and balancing a budget.

Another resource available to first-generation students is TRIO, an organization in the Michael Schwartz Center that helps those students who meet federal financial guidelines, or those registered with student accessibility services.

The university website said TRIO provides these students with tutoring, academic mentoring, workshops and events. Upcoming events listed on the TRIO website include resume building, financial literacy workshops and graduate school visits.

Contact Nathan Havenner at [email protected].