UWL First! Scholars

A page within Student Support Services

UWL First! Scholars are high performing, first generation students who have been hand selected to participate in this scholarship and retention program. First! Scholars have a bright future at UWL and this program helps establish firm roots here.

Each cohort of up to 25 first generation students will have the unique opportunity to enroll in this scholarship program. UWL First! Scholars receive a $2,000.00 scholarship for the first and second year enrolled. The student will also receive hands on and tailored assistance for a variety of tasks that may come easier for non-first generation students. Through camaraderie, students will develop a sense of belonging, which will assist with their transition to the university. Scholars will also have the opportunity to develop work experience through on-campus internship opportunities

The “UWL First! Scholars Program” is designed to assist select first generation/low income students to succeed academically through a coordinated system of support, integrating college readiness, financial aid, advising and career development. The program addresses the social and economic barriers to higher education for select students who demonstrate intellectual promise and financial need.

Program Components

UWL First! Scholars are required to live in the First Generation Living Learning Community in Laux Hall for their first year. This community is open to any first generation student and is home to our 25 UWL First! Scholars. The goal of the first generation living learning community is to help students build a strong community in their first year at UWL. Students will make lasting social connections and participate in programming provided by a range of support services available to first generation students.

As a first generation college student, you are also eligible for Student Support Services (SSS), a federally funded TRIO program that serves 350 UWL students each year. More information will be shared later about the resources offered by SSS that help UWL students in their college success.

UWL First! Scholars will be assigned to a paid work-study job/internship on campus. UWL First! Scholars work side-by-side with university staff in various campus departments for approximately six to eight hours per week each semester.  The wages from the paid work-study/internship are in addition to the $2,000 scholarship.

UWL First Scholars will be automatically enrolled in CST 110 together their first semester. This is a course that all students must take and as a UWL First Scholar you are guaranteed a spot your first semester as a UWL First! Scholars program.


Admissions invites 25 students to participate in the UWL First! Scholars program based on academic achievements and identify as being from one or more of the following groups:

  1. A first-generation college student (Neither parent received a bachelor's degree)
  2. Wisconsin Residency
  3. At an economic disadvantage (low-income according to Federal guidelines

UWL First! Scholars will receive a $2,000 scholarship during their first year of attendance. Scholars who qualify and choose to return to the program will receive another $2,000 scholarship during their second year in the program.

  • Maintain a minimum UW-La Crosse resident GPA of 2.50 for each semester.
  • Live and participate in the First Generation Living Learning Community in Laux Hall.

Once invited to the program, students will need to complete the following steps.

  1. Accept Scholarship (Email Ken kkoelbl@uwlax.edu)
  2. Complete Housing Application
  3. Complete Student Support Services Application


Do I need to live on campus? 

Do I need to live in Laux 

Our intentions are to provide an environment of absolute growth and opportunity for all of the 25 students. That is why we have everyone live in the same hall, on the same floor. This type of living is called a living learning community and has proven to have improved and promoted student achievement while living on campus.

Can I still live with the roommate I have already selected? 

You are able to have your friend be your roommate but you would have to live in the assigned hall for the first year. After the first year, you are able to move wherever you would like. 

How many hours will I need to work for my work study placement?

Most work 6 to 10 hours per week but it really depends on what will help you be successful and the need of the office.

Will the work study placement be related to my major? 

Our second big initiative is the on-campus internship. You will receive a “work-study” questionnaire in August that will help us decide what office to place you in. The survey will ask for previous work experience and what your preferences are. Make sure to fill this out to be aligned with what you would like to do.

What if I have already taken CST 110 while in high school?

Can I live in the Living Learning Community for my second year?