First-generation students pursue higher education because of their own ambition and drive for success. Despite this drive, they have unique challenges that can hold them back from earning a degree. Here are four things financial aid professionals should keep in mind when working with first-generation college students:

They’re not at traditional colleges

According to the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), more than two-thirds of first-generation students attend community colleges or proprietary schools. Nearly half (47%) are at public community colleges. First-gen students also attend part-time more often and take longer to complete certificates or associate’s degrees

About a third are older than traditional students

The CIC study found that 34% of first-generation students are 30 years old or older. By this time, they often already have family and work responsibilities and more demands on their time.

They struggle to graduate

CIC states that 59% of first-generation students don’t complete a degree or certificate within six years, compared to 46% of non-first-generation students. Students who don’t graduate with a degree have a much harder time repaying student loans and are more likely to default.

They don’t have family guidance

As the first in their families to attend college, these students don’t have an at-home guide to the college and financial aid process. According to Time magazine, they’re more likely to have difficulties in school because they haven’t gotten the same preparation that other students have had with college-educated parents, including learning financial literacy.

Having an intimate understanding of these challenges can help you tailor financial aid efforts. Innovative tools these students can access at home, such as iontuition™, can be great additions your efforts. You can fill in the education gaps and contribute to first-gen student success, both academically and in their careers.