Skip to main content

What is FGLI?

FGLI is an acronym that stands for First-Generation, Lower-Income (pronounced fig-lee). It is commonly used to describe college students who will be the first in their families to graduate from a four-year college and/or come from a lower-income background. Not all first-generation students come from lower-income backgrounds and not all lower-income students are first-generation.

While there is no single shared FGLI experience, there are some common issues that often affect FGLI students more acutely:

  • Balancing school, work, home, and social life – Many FGLI students find that they have to manage more responsibilities than non-FGLI students while attending college as they often balance jobs with coursework and may have significant obligations at home that non-FGLI students do not have.
  • Navigating the University – Many FGLI students have had little experience interacting with faculty or spending time on a college campus where certain implicit norms, values, and behaviors exist. Learning about this “hidden curriculum” can be additional work for FGLI students.
  • Asking for help – Many FGLI students have learned to manage their academics on their own and may see reaching out for help as a sign of personal weakness rather than an expectation of all college students.
  • Fitting in – The FGLI identity is often invisible. It can be easy for FGLI students to assume that every other student on campus has college figured out while they may struggle, seemingly alone, as “imposters.”

The Office of FGLI Initiatives works to alleviate the challenges FGLI students face and helps foster an environment where the FGLI identity is seen as a source of pride. Indeed, FGLI students have accomplished much in getting to Northwestern and demonstrate strong leadership skills, resilience, determination, and a high aptitude for further success. FGLI students thrive because of, not despite, their identities.