First-Generation Support
American University is committed to enhancing the experience of 
first-generation students through providing resources, support, and guidance to successfully achieve degree completion.

Am I First-Generation?

 AU defines first-generation as students whose parent(s) or guardian(s) have never attended a college or university. 

No matter the definition, if you consider yourself to be the first in your family to attend college, first in your family to receive a four-year degree, or first in your family to do many great things, you are not alone! Step up and let us know your experience here at AU. 
Get out there and educate, inform, and inspire others!
  • "Five Questions With..."
  • Adryani McNeil   
  • Student Services Coordinator
    AU Central
  • Why AU?  
  • Having grown up in the DC Metro area, I have always believed that AU was a first-class higher ed institution with a diverse student and staff population. I strongly believe that immersing yourself in a diverse culture is one of the best ways to learn outside of the classroom and that is what brought me to AU.

  • What does being first-generation mean to you?

    My parents, who were Indonesian immigrants, always instilled in us the importance of education. With their support, my siblings and I were the first in our family to attend college. My parents were so proud to be able to provide us with an opportunity they never had growing up. Even as a non-conventional college student, I am proud to say that I have been able to navigate the SAT, application, admissions, and enrollment process on my own, even without much help of my siblings who completed college before me. I proud to be a first generation college student and to continue to be an example for my nieces and nephews who, hopefully, will follow in our footsteps into higher education. There is a sense of accomplishment and I'm certainly not ashamed of my experience and wouldn't change it for the world. 

  • Was there anything you were confused by during college? 

  • Being an older student when I decided to go back to school and with the pressures of having a full-time job was hard enough, I found that entire financial aid process to be quite confusing. With all of the rules and regulations that constantly change it just made the entire process very difficult to grasp. I wish I had asked more questions, but was thankful to be able to navigate the process on my own. 

  • What are you most looking forward to this semester?

    I look forward to working with students and parents in resolving financial aid, student accounts, and registration issues that they may have. 

If you were a super hero, what would be your super power?

Since I was young, I have always admired the super heroes who had the ability to fly. There's something about the thought of being able to fly away, to get from point a to point b, under my own terms that makes the ability to fly so attractive.



Main Logo with AU logo

What is the 

First-Generation Focus? 


The First-Generation Focus is a monthly newsletter produced by the American University Center for Diversity & Inclusion. The mission of the newsletter is to foster a community among AU's growing first-generation population. Each month the newsletter aims to inform readers about beneficial opportunities on campus. 



Call for Testimonials!

Do you want to tell your story as a First-Generation college student? Contact Caroline DeLeon [] for more details!








"Be strong when you are weak, brave when you are scared, and humble when you are victorious."


FEBURARY 3, 2014

FAFSA Rap: Free Money
FAFSA Rap: Free Money!





Make sure to fill out your FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the way for you to get grants, loans, and federal work study  for paying for your time here at American University! You must fill out the FAFSA each year, and the deadline is on May 1.
BUT, we encourage you to fill our your FAFSA as soon as possible. You'll need the following items:


-   Social Security Number

-   Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)

-   Your most recent federal income tax return

-   Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)

-   Records of untaxed income (if applicable)

-   Federal Student Aid PIN (


NOTE: If your parent(s) or guardian(s) claim you as a dependent on their taxes, you will need most of the above information for your parent(s) or guardian(s).






Did you make any money in 2013? You need to fill out your tax returns! You may even get money back from the federal government, based on what you paid out of your paychecks. Your forms are due on April 15, but, again, you should do this as soon as possible.



File for Free!




If you're graduating, FAFSA doesn't really go away. In about 6 months, your student loan lenders will start collecting on the loans that they've let you borrow. A monthly billing installment will begin and payment is required. To make sure that you're on top of your game and don't fall behind on your payments, keep the following tips in mind:


  • Keep your address up to date with all of your student loan lenders;
  • Watch your mail for your bills! Student loan bills don't always come well-marked, so make sure you pay attention to what's in your mailbox;
  • Keep your documents in order. A folder or spreadsheet may be your best friend in keeping your student loans in order.
  • Worried that you can't pay your bills? Talk to your lenders. Income-based repayment plans may be available for you.
TIP: Don't let student crush you! Know your options and help inform others who might be confused. You are Not a Loan!



Merit-based aid
Aid that does not have to be paid back; a scholarship based on academic, artistic, athletic, or other merit-oriented criteria.


Need-based aid

College-funded or college-administered award from institutional, state, federal, or other sources for which a student must have financial need to qualify. This includes both institutional and non-institutional student aid (grants, jobs, and loans).


Is the amount of money that you've been offered through American University and your FAFSA not enough to cover your expenses? Or perhaps you would like to convert some of your loans into grants? Merit-based aid is a great way for you to help augment your need-based offerings. Free money is always a good thing and no grant or scholarship is too big or too small. Finding awards that you're eligible for may take some work, though. Three tips for a successful scholarship search:

-   Start early.

-   Look everywhere.

-   Be thorough.


But where to start? Think about who you are and your identities and what organizations have missions to assist people with your identity. Perhaps it is your race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or veteran status. Maybe it's the industry that your parents or guardian work in. Some places to get started:

-   CollegeBoard


-   Zinch


Do you have questions about paying your bill? Contact AU Central!



The Center for Diversity & Inclusion has events and forums specifically for students who are the first-generation in their family to attend college! We are excited to announce that we're planning a professional development program for staff to gain insights on working with first-generation students in early February, and all AU community members are welcome to attend!


Being first in your family to attend college often presents many rewards and sometimes challenges. This session will offer participants an understanding of this unique population and provide effective tips for working with this growing community.


Register Today!



Stay connected with the CDI on Facebook and Twitter!
Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter
Check out our Facebook groups: Multicultural Community, LGBTQA Community, First Generation Community, Community for Women & Gender Equity  
And our Twitter handles: @AUlgbtqa_cdi, @AUmulti_cdi, @AUCDI

Center for Diversity & Inclusion
American University
Mary Graydon Center, 201
Washington, DC 20016  
Tel: (202) 885-3651| Fax: (202) 885-1168|