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Would you be the first in your family to graduate from college?

Eastern Kentucky University has established a Trailblazer Scholarship Award to assist students seeking to be the first in their families to earn a college degree.

This fall, more than 800 new freshmen entering EKU were first-generation students.

“Serving this population of students has been at the heart of Eastern’s mission for over a century,” said Dr. Brett Morris, executive director for enrollment management at EKU. “This scholarship will help fulfill unmet needs many first-generation families experience when attempting to find affordable, quality college options for their children.”

According to a report from the Pell Institute entitled “What Works for First-Generation Students,” many first-generation students find the amount of aid awarded is often insufficient to offset the rising costs of college attendance. Tuition increases, stagnant grant aid, and the high costs of textbooks and transportation make it a struggle to pay for college. Also, many first-generation students choose to work rather than to take out student loans, making it difficult for them to focus time and attention on their coursework.”

And that’s precisely why EKU has taken the unprecedented step of designating funds for first-generation students.

“I applaud the University’s leadership in recognizing and addressing the needs of those we serve,” Morris said. “EKU prides itself as a school of opportunity. Those opportunities become fewer when the cost of attending exceeds a family’s ability to pay for a first-rate education. This scholarship will give more students the opportunity to study at EKU and help move the Commonwealth forward.”

First-generation students who will be new freshmen in Fall 2016 can apply until March 1, 2016, to be considered. The award amount may vary depending upon the individual’s need and academic record. Priority will be given to students who are not receiving other institutional merit aid. Students will receive written notification in April.

The Trailblazer Scholarship application form is available online at The application should be accompanied by a written essay and a letter of recommendation from a school official. Students must have also completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for the award.