Jordan-Elbridge students may be able to attend OCC tuition free

Jordan-Elbridge High School students may have an opportunity to attend Onondaga Community College tuition-free thanks to the OCC Advantage Program which the Jordan-Elbridge Board of Education heard about during its regular meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 5.

Representatives from OCC detailed the program which centers on college and career readiness. The program began in 2016 and various high schools from the area already participate in it.

The program would start for students during their freshman year of high school. To participate, students would have to maintain a certain GPA throughout their high school career, keep a good attendance record, complete community service and successfully complete any required college readiness programming to remain eligible for free tuition. They would also have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).

If students met those guidelines, they would be able to attend OCC tuition-free after graduation and work toward an associate’s degree.
Amy Kremenek, the vice president for enrollment development & communications at OCC, said tuition is about $5,000 a year at the college.

Students would have two years once they get to OCC to earn an associate degree or certificate. While there, they would also have to maintain a certain GPA or higher (a 2.2 for the first semester, 2.3 for the second, and a 2.5 for the third and fourth) and meet community service requirements to stay in the program.

“This program is not designed for the top 10 students in the class. We want the students in the middle,” Kremenek said.

“It’s our goal for students to graduate from OCC without any debt so they can go right to work or go on to a 4-year school.”

Kremenek said if JEHS implements the program, all freshman would be eligible to participate.

JEHS already partners with OCC on its Early College High School (ECHS) program. Now in its third year, the ECHS program affords students the opportunity to earn high school and college credits concurrently and graduate with two degrees: A New York high school diploma and associate’s degree.

This year, 10 students from JEHS take classes at OCC in the morning.

“The partnership we’ve had with OCC has been incredible,” said Superintendent James Froio.

“We’re excited about the potential of this program for our students.”