Defining First-Gen & Low-Income


The term First-Generation is a fluid self-defining identity for individuals that embody multiple identities. These students may come from families who speak languages other than English at home or from cultures outside the United States with different education systems.

First-Gen Students include:

  • Students from any income status (low, middle, and/ or upper)
  • Students of all ages
  • International students in which one or both parents did not attend college in the U.S.

First-Gen Students are Domestic and International students who:

  • Are the first to attend a four-year university and attain a college degree
  • Do not have parents, guardians, or family systems to assist them in navigating the college process; or
  • Have current parents or family systems who did not attend a traditional four year institution and attain a college degree


Mount Holyoke's First Generation and Low-Income Partnership, is a student organization for members of the community that self-identify as first-generation and/or low-income. Our purpose is to help students find community within an institution that is traditionally affluent, built on legacy, and predominantly white.


The low-income identity is applied to households whose income is low, relative to other households of the same size in their area/region. In the United States, a household classified as low-income is commonly eligible for certain types of government assistance, including Federal Pell Grant, if its income is less than two times the poverty threshold, as determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Overall, a First-Generation and/or Low-Income (FGLI/FLI) student, is a student that self-identifies with either or both of these terms. In understanding these identities, we can better understand the challenges and the strengths that come with them, especially in navigating the college experience.

Virtual M&C's: Defining FGLI

Click here to view the Defining FGLI presentation from our Virtual M&C's event!