Case Study

Challenges First Generation Students Face


The Challenge

She was the first in her family to consider college. Her dream was to study fashion retailing and open her own boutique one day. From a single-parent home with little financial means, she believed college would open doors, but had little idea how to accomplish this goal.

How We Were Able to Help

She was selected by her public high school to participate in a mentor program that matched students with a local volunteer that helps guide students through the process. Run through the schools Guidance Department, this program extends the capabilities of busy school counselors and provides more one-on-one attention for qualifying students. Her mentor was Cathy Copeland Titus, Senior Admissions Advisor.

The Goal

The key goal was to secure financial aid and make college a reality. Tasked with filing the FAFSA and pursuing financial aid on her own, she had a crash course in how the IRS, FAFSA and Social Security Administration are all connected. One incorrect digit in her social security number reporting resulted in her being selected for verified before FASFA would confirm her information
to the colleges.

The Plan

Correcting information with each of the three government agencies and, in the end, using the FAFSA hotline, it was a slow and deliberate process to rectify the problem. The weekly meetings, unwavering support, and constant checklists were invaluable.


She was accepted at her first choice college, received a Pell Grant, MassGrant and a substantial financial aid package. She has visited the college and managed the outreach to the department chair for her future major – all which would have never seemed possible before going through this process.

The Benefit

The dream of college and the promise it holds is achievable. She now sees the value in sticking with the hard work to get to a desired result and is moving toward her first year with confidence and a boost to her self esteem.


“I can’t imagine how I would have made it without Cathy. There were just too many things I had no way to anticipate and I may have given up. Her help and support has changed my life forever.”

Who Are You?

My Situation Is…?