FAU's Kelly/Strul Emerging Scholars Program Offers First-Gen Students Chance to Graduate Debt-Free

Posted at 4:50 PM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 16:54:14-05

Obtaining a college education can be a financial challenge, especially for first-generation students.

According to the First Generation Foundation, 89% of low-income first-generation students will not be able to obtain a bachelor’s degree. But Florida Atlantic University is trying to change that by offering students the opportunity to attend and graduate college.

"Just to know that I'm the first one to graduate college is pretty surreal," said senior Jacob Browne.

Browne is pursuing multimedia studies at FAU. He said he’s a proud recipient of the Kelly/Strul Emerging Scholars Program and the university has championed him along the way.

"It really made it stress free because college is expensive and so I didn’t have to worry about those things. I was able to just experience college for what it is and that’s a rarity and a gift for me," said Browne.

The program aims to relieve the burden of school debt.

"So the purpose of this is to level the playing field between first-generation students and non-first gen so they can have a fair chance in getting access to a college degree," said director of first-generation student success Keven Allen.

Founded in 2017, the scholarship provides four-year financial aid packages for tuition, on-campus housing, books, a meal plan and additional resources students need to complete their degree.

"We do not have a GPA requirement, so as long as they meet the admissions requirement for FAU, they can apply for the scholarship. They are required to do an essay, a video, three letters recommendations and a phone interview," added Allen.

"My parents struggled not having a college education so for them it was so important that my education was a priority. Before entering this program I didn’t know the possibilities and the power that I have. This program has empowered me to be strong and my identity to be a first-gen student," said senior Jaireen Ruiz.

For more information on how you can apply for the Kelly/Strul Emerging Scholars Program, visit