OCC Advantage

What is OCC Advantage?

OCC Advantage is a college and career readiness program for high school students at partner schools. You'll start the program in 9th grade and work with an OCC Advantage coordinator at your school to build up your study skills and join college and career prep workshops. Students who maintain eligibility throughout high school and successfully complete the program earn last dollar funding* toward their first semester's tuition at OCC, with the opportunity to earn funding for more semesters. Funding lasts a maximum of 2 years.

*Last dollar funding is intended to fill the gap between a student's non-loan financial aid and the remaining costs of tuition & select fees. 

How to earn funding through the OCC Advantage program:

In High School

  1. Sign up for OCC Advantage as a high school freshman through your school's guidance counselor.
  2. Stay in school and maintain required average and attendance minimums.
  3. Complete the required community service.
  4. Complete all required college readiness programming.
  5. Apply to OCC by March 1 of your senior year. 
  6. Complete the FAFSA, apply for TAP, and Excelsior Scholarship by May 15 of your senior year.  

Once You're at OCC

All degree and certificate programs at OCC are covered by Advantage - pick your passion!

  1. Participate in orientation program. 
  2. Stay in school! Complete 30 credits per academic year at continuous full-time status (taking at least 12 credits) for 2 years. 
  3. Maintain the following cummulative GPA (on a 4.0 scale) each semester:
    • First Year: 2.2
    • Second Year: 2.5 
  4. Complete the FAFSA, TAP, and Excelsior applications every year by May 15.
  5. Participate in at least one service-learning course, college service activity, or internship each year. 

Complete your community service? Fill out this form to submit your hours. 

Questions? Contact Hailey Warren, OCC Advantage College Connection Coach, at [email protected] 

Who is eligible?

Partner Schools:

*Please note if you attend a school that is not one of our partners, you are not eligible for this program. 

Important Notes

  • Your eligibility at OCC is tracked by your OCC Advantage Coach and then transitions to Financial Aid who will keep track from there. 
  • If you don't meet all the requirements while at OCC, you'll lose your funding. There is no appeal process. You will not have to pay back previous funding. 
  • To meet the credit requirements, you can take summer and winter session classes. However, those will not be covered by Advantage funding. 

High School Students

Students can join the OCC Advantage program during the first half of their freshmen year of high school. Typically, the OCC Advantage coordinators at each school will start recruiting students during 9th grade orientation, send letters home to families, and talk with students about joining the program. Students can only join the program during their freshmen year, unless they are new to the district. If you are new student in the district you can join OCC Advantage up until the beginning of your junior year. 

If students fail to meet a requirement in high school, they are allowed to attend one restorative session during their entire high school career. These are offered on a limited basis to participating schools. If a student fails a requirement a second time, they are no longer eligible for the OCC Advantage program. 

Each of the schools has a coordinator(s) for OCC Advantage and they keep track of high school student eligibility. Your best bet is to speak with your guidance counselor if you are unsure of who your OCC Advantage coordinator is at your school. 

The college readiness programming is an event, or a series of workshops, hosted by Onondaga Community College. Each grade has their own event once a year. OCC will coordinate this event with the high school and students will take a field trip to OCC to participate in workshops focused on study skills, time management, professional skills, financial literacy, communication, and more. Some of these workshops may also be conducted through virtual platforms. 

Yes! OCC Advantage is open to any student at any of our partner high schools. The criteria will remain the same for all students both in high school and college. When enrolling for classes at OCC be sure to submit a copy of your IEP or 504 Plan to our Office of Accessibility Resources if you wish to continue receiving accommodations. 

Preparing to Graduate High School 

They could, depending on your program. You will want to contact the college you took those courses through and ask them to submit your college transcripts to OCC at [email protected].

While OCC has no commitment letter or deposit, OCC Advantage does require students to apply by March 1 of their senior year and complete their FAFSA,TAP, and Excelsior applications by May 15. 

Students must enroll in classes at OCC in the Fall or Spring semester following graduation from high school. 

Let your OCC Advantage College Connection Coach know that you will not be attending OCC. They will inform OCC so your application can be withdrawn. OCC Advantage funding will not be available for you to use at any other institution. 

Yes - if you submitted an OCC application by the March 1 deadline, completed your FAFSA (with OCC’s code), TAP, and Excelsior applications by the May 15 deadline. If you did not complete these applications by the required deadlines during your senior year in high school, you can still transfer to OCC but will not be eligible for OCC Advantage funding. Reach out to the OCC Advantage College Connection Coach to verify eligibility. 

OCC Students

OCC Advantage is a last dollar award that covers your tuition, student activity fee, recreation & wellness fee, and the technology fee, after all other non-loan financial aid has been applied. Students are responsible for any other fees that may be added to your account including books, course supplies, housing, lab fees, specialized program fees, and more. OCC Advantage does not cover winter or summer session tuition and fees. Students wishing to enroll in winter and summer courses may do so but will need to pay for those out of pocket or with other financial aid, if eligible. 

OCC Advantage funding is last dollar funding. Once other grants and scholarships have been applied to your MyOCC account, Advantage will be added to cover any of the remaining tuition and select fees. 

Students will never directly receive cash or check from OCC Advantage. Once other grants and scholarships have been applied and all eligibility requirements have been met, the OCC Foundation will send the funds to Onondaga Community College Financial Aid. Financial Aid will then disperse the funds into student accounts to cover the remaining cost of tuition and select fees. 

Each student receives a different amount of financial aid based on need. Some students receive no financial aid from the federal or state government besides loans, others are eligible to receive full funding from the state and/or federal government in the form of TAP or Pell grants. Because OCC Advantage is a last dollar award, students who receive a large portion of TAP or Pell grants will likely not see any Advantage funding. Students will want to maintain eligibility though as financial circumstances can change from year to year. 

The OCC Advantage funding will be placed on student accounts after all financial aid at the college has been dispersed. Financial Aid typically does this after the end of the add/drop period but may take longer. Once Advantage funding has been added students can make payment on any fees that Advantage does not cover. Students may receive a bill from OCC as blanket communications go out to all registered students about billing each semester.