What is a First-Generation Student?

You are considered a first-generation student if neither of your parents earned a bachelor’s degree. We know this definition may not fully account for the rich diversity of first-generation college students. For example, your parent(s) may have some college experience but did not earn a degree, or an older sibling or extended family member may have earned a college degree. No matter what your background, SUNY Oneonta is dedicated to supporting your success.

Approximately 35% of our enrolled students identify as first-generation students.


SUNY Oneonta supports each student with personalized academic advisement, from your first semester through graduation. Advisers are faculty or staff who will help you navigate your SUNY Oneonta academic experience. They are assigned to you by the major in which you are enrolled. If you are undecided, you’ll still have an adviser; once you declare your major, you will be assigned a new adviser in the department that matches your interest.

Majors and Programs

Campus Life

When you get involved in campus life, you’ll make social connections, find friends, discover new interests, develop leadership skills and have fun! Oneonta has more than 150 student clubs and organizations to choose from, a supportive residential life community, and a wide range of activities and events on campus to keep you entertained and engaged. It’s easy to find your place and feel like you’re a part of a community here.

Clubs and Organizations


SUNY Oneonta students, faculty and staff welcome people of all backgrounds and strive to be part of an inclusive community that values and celebrates differences. We have many multicultural student clubs and hold diversity-themed events all year. Students can get involved and find support through the Office of Equity and Inclusion Peer Mentor Program, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, and Center for Racial Justice and Inclusive Excellence.

Diversity at Oneonta

Financial Aid

The advisors and staff in our Financial Aid and Scholarships Office are here to help you navigate the financial aid process each year. We offer payment plans and a comprehensive financial assistance program that includes grants and scholarships that you do not have to pay back, loans that must be repaid, and student employment income. When you apply for aid, you’ll be assigned a financial aid advisor to support you.

Financial Aid Awards

Academic Support Services

Everyone at SUNY Oneonta is rooting for your success, and we have a lot of support services to help you along the way.  

  • Student Learning Center – one-on-one peer and professional staff tutoring, and courses in writing, math and study skills.
  • Accessibility Resources – accommodations such as extended test-taking times, note-taking and large-print course materials for students with learning and other disabilities
  • Academic Advisement – help deciding on a major, choosing classes, planning your course schedule, and keeping track of the requirements you need to complete in order to graduate
  • Career Development – prepare for success after graduation with help figuring out what career you want to pursue, finding an internship, writing a resume and practicing for job interviews 
  • Experiential Learning Center – connects you with hands-on learning opportunities outside of the classroom, including research projects, volunteering, studying abroad and getting an internship 

Paying for College

Paying for college can be a challenge for many families, and the counselors and staff in our Financial Aid Office work hard to make sure all qualified students have the opportunity to pursue a college degree. We offer payment plans and a comprehensive financial assistance program. In 2020-21, 84% of first-year students and 79% of all Oneonta undergraduate students received financial assistance.

The first step in getting help paying for college is to complete the Free Application or Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), available each year beginning Oct. 1 at fafsa.gov. SUNY Oneonta will use the information you provide on the FAFSA to determine your family’s ability to pay for your education and the types of financial assistance that may help. You may receive a combination of federal, state and college aid, including grants and scholarships that you do not have to pay back, loans that must be repaid, and income from student employment. Our financial aid advisors are here to help you navigate the application process, every step of the way. 

Applying for Aid

For 2022-23, the total cost to attend SUNY Oneonta is $27,545 per year for New York State residents and $30,055 for out-of-state residents. This includes tuition, room (residence hall), board (food), books, supplies, transportation and personal expenses.

Tuition and Fees

All first-year applicants will be automatically considered for scholarships based on academic achievement in high school and your family’s ability to pay for college. If you apply by Jan. 15, 2023, you’ll have the best chance of receiving a scholarship for the following academic year. These scholarships are renewable for four years. After your first year at Oneonta, you’ll have the chance to apply for a variety of additional scholarships based on academic success in your major, including several scholarships just for first-generation students. In 2020-21, SUNY Oneonta awarded $5.7 million in merit- and need-based scholarships.


Many students work part-time jobs during their time at SUNY Oneonta. These positions can help refine your career interests, develop valuable skills and earn money for books and personal expenses. Our Student Employment office maintains a listing of on- and off-campus jobs. If you receive a Federal Work Study financial aid award, you’ll get first priority for on-campus jobs and receive a paycheck for the hours you work. 

Student Employment


First-Generation-Honor-Society Logo

First-Generation Honor Society 

To recognize the hard work and academic success of our first-gen students, SUNY Oneonta has established a chapter of Alpha Alpha Alpha (Tri-Alpha), the national honor society for first-generation students. Our first group of honorees was inducted in spring 2022. Membership is open to first-generation students who have earned at least 30 credit/semester hours toward a bachelor’s degree and have achieved an overall grade-point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. 


First-Generation Celebration Day 

November 8 is National First-Generation Celebration Day! We’re excited to join colleges and universities across the country in recognizing and celebrating the achievements of our first-generation students, faculty, staff and alumni. This is a time not only to recognize your hard work and resilience, but also to help our whole campus community better understand the systemic barriers plaguing higher education and the supports needed for first-generation students to access and succeed at college.

Our Stories
Bel Mendoza

Bel Mendoza

SUNY Oneonta, Class of 2021
Theatre and Media Studies major

Being a first-generation college student to me means being a trailblazer. I am making my own path for myself and not just following in the footsteps of somebody else, which makes my life all the more interesting.

Read More About Bel



Daren Rylewicz

SUNY Oneonta, Class of 1993
Political Science major

There are always the financial obstacles. My parents did not envision their sons going to college. Coupled with that, we were a blue collar working class family, so money was tight regardless. I was fortunate to excel at my studies in high school, and my local community college had a program where students graduating in the top 10 percent of their class could attend tuition-free. 

Read More About Daren

Carmen Pizzuto

Carmen Pizzuto

Assistant Director of Admissions at SUNY Oneonta

The college search process itself was daunting. I got most of my college information through “Peterson's Guide to 4 Year College” and some stuff that came in the mail. No webpages, no virtual tours. While in college, I definitely would have taken advantage of career planning more than I did. 

Read More About Carmen

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