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First Generation & Low Income Support

First-Generation & Low-Income (FGLI) student support is intended to promote identity exploration, community, advocacy and empowerment for all students who identify with the first-generation and/or low-income student experience. Our work is grounded in a holistic, intersectional approach to foster an educational environment for FGLI students to succeed and thrive at Cornell.As a unit in the Dean of Students, Diversity and Inclusion portfolio, we aim to promote and centralize academic and social resources to remove institutional barriers to allow, first-generation and/or low-income students to benefit from an inclusive and transformational educational experience.

Did you know....15.5% of the students in the incoming class of 2024 self-identify as first-generation college students. We consider you a first-generation college student if you come from a family in which neither of your parents or guardians has obtained a four-year college degree.
We consider you a low-income student if you have little or no expected parent contribution as part of your financial aid package, you are a recipient of the Pell grant, or you believe that your prior academic and social experiences have been limited due to your socioeconomic status.

First Forward Institution

First Forward logo

The Center for First-Generation Student Success launched in June 2017, with the mission of being the premier source of evidence-based practices, professional development, and knowledge creation for the higher education community to advance the success of first-generation students. In continuing this mission, the Center launched First-gen Forward, the nation’s first recognition program acknowledging higher education institutions for their commitment to first-generation student success.

Cornell University is a member of the 2020-2021 First-gen Forward Cohort.

Student Organizations

The First Generation Student Union student-run organization works collectively to foster an inclusive community for first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students and are committed to making sure FGLI Cornellians find a true sense of belonging.

Cornell students have been instrumental in creating and sustaining the Cornell Lending Library. This student run organization was founded with the purpose of developing equity for low-income students by alleviating the financial burden of the high cost textbooks and academic supplies needed to excel at Cornell. Follow Cornell Lending Library on Facebook too.

Support the Access Fund

Support the First-Generation and Low-Income Student Support Center, a new initiative out of the Dean of Students Office, by making a gift to the Access Fund. The Access Fund allows us the flexibility to better meet student needs and your gift will help in a multitude of ways. The Access Fund provides financial support to help low-income students cover emergency expenses, meet basic needs, and to participate in transformative experiences that would not be possible without financial assistance.  

Meet the Team

Shakima M. Clency

Peggy J. Koenig ’78 Associate Dean of Students for Student Empowerment and Director of First-Generation & Low-Income Student Support

Shakima M. Clency comes to Cornell from Alfred University in Alfred, New York, where she served as the inaugural Diversity Fellow in the Center for Student Involvement. In this capacity, she advised several identity affinity student organizations, taught courses on pop culture and social justice, and served on the Bias Response Team and President's Committee on Diversity. Prior to her time at Alfred University, she served as the Senior Associate Director in the Office of New Student Transitions and First Year Experience at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.