Search NYPIRG

Maliha Khan, City College of NY

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I’m a junior majoring in international studies, and I’m minoring in English and Economics. After graduation, I would love to work with a nonprofit organization and hopefully one day I will be able to work with the UN!

I receive TAP and the Pell grant. I’m part of SEEK, which has helped me tremendously because they have provided me with a very helpful advisor, financial help, and an amazing environment for me to be in. I use the money that I get as a refund after my tuition to pay transportation, food, and books.

I’m currently looking for a part-time job and an internship with a nonprofit organization, but because of my busy schedule at school, it’s very difficult. I’ve also applied for federal work-study, but because financial aid covers my tuition, my application isn’t a priority.

I would appreciate a child care center on campus because I have many classmates that bring their children into the classes, and although they don’t often disrupt the class, they are a distraction to their moms because they have to pay attention to the children instead of paying attention to the class.

Time management has been my biggest challenge at a CUNY student.  I’m very concerned about graduating on time because I have changed majors. It has become very stressful because I am taking six classes next semester. If I didn’t receive financial aid, my parents would have to take out loans to help pay for tuition which would be really hard because I would have to work in order to support myself as well.

We need a fully funded CUNY because many plan on pursuing a master’s or a doctorate degree after college, and if students no longer had to worry about paying for their bachelor’s degree, they could save for furthering their educations. Also, it becomes very hard for a student to maintain a high GPA if they have to work to pay for their tuition, books, and food.

Lena Bonin, City College of NY

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I’m now getting my master’s degree in environmental biotechnology. I get a little help from the government back in Europe, but it isn’t much so my parents have to cover my tuition and housing. The savings that I had from back home covers transportation and books.

Personally, I don’t need a child care service, but I think that it would be a good idea to have one on campus for the students that really need it. My biggest challenge as an exchange student has been adapting to the new environment because everything is new to me, and it takes time to get used to everything. I think that NYPIRG is doing an amazing job and should absolutely continue doing everything they do! 

Abigaile Sanchez Hernandez, City College of NY

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I’m majoring in political science and minoring in journalism. After college, I plan to keep on working with grassroots political organizations with which my beliefs align morally and politically and work with communities who are disfranchised to help them find the resources to live comfortably in this society.

I don’t receive any financial aid, so my parents and I are covering my tuition, book costs, and transportation. I personally don’t need the child care center but would appreciate it for other students. I know of a load of students that are also parents. A center would take off the financial load of child care.

My biggest challenge as a CUNY student has been taking classes that I need to graduate on time and finding vegan options. I’m concerned with graduating on time because advisors are very inconsistent, and I’ve taken classes that I don’t need.

I think that we need a fully funded CUNY because there’s a clear disparity in a lot of job fields, and we need a fully funded CUNY to diversify institutions that control what happens to real working-class people. Low-income students of color don’t have the means to complete a bachelor’s degree because of food insecurity, financial insecurity, and other challenges. If they were able to go to school and get a degree while not having to worry about money, these students could change the world! They would have more of a say over their lives and the lives of people who identify with them. I think that that would be a better pathway to an equal society, which is very essential in today’s political climate. If we care about equality and diversity, CUNY needs to be fully funded!

Seth Moer, City College of NY

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I’m majoring in political science and minoring in journalism. I’m part of the 1% of students that receive the Excelsior scholarship, so I have to complete 30 credits per year, which makes college more stressful by increasing my workload. I also have to stay in New York four years after my graduation, so I plan to attend graduate school. I also am a recipient of the Pell Grant and the TAP award.

I work on the weekends and have to pay for food, transportation, and books myself because I don’t receive SNAP, and I am not part of any opportunity programs. If I didn’t receive any financial aid, I would probably be in debt. I think that CUNY should be fully funded to help to support the growing student body that overwhelms public colleges because most people find it nearly impossible to attend private colleges.

More aspects of CUNY, such as maintenance of the elevators of CCNY, should also be funded. I would also appreciate a child care center on campus to provide support for students that are also parents.

Janiris Rodriguez, SUNY Cortland

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I’m a junior at SUNY Cortland studying Teaching English as a Second Language. After graduation, I plan on becoming a teacher.

I pay for school in a few ways. I’ve taken out student loans and received grants. I work to help cover the costs on top of that. I receive both TAP and the Pell Grant which is about $5,000 per year between the two. I also work at ASC (auxiliary services) about seven hours a week to help pay for food and gas so that I can go to my observations for my education class.

If I didn’t receive financial aid, I wouldn’t be in school because there is just no way I could afford it. We need a fully funded SUNY so that everyone can get an education no matter their financial situation. We all have a right to an education and a better future.

Maria Klara Ventura, SUNY Cortland

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I’m a sophomore at SUNY Cortland double majoring in anthropology and international studies. I’m also getting a minor in Latin American studies. At this point, I’m considering going to law school after graduation or going into humanitarian work.

I’m from California, so I pay the out-of-state tuition for SUNY Cortland, and I have no choice but to take out private loans and government loans to pay for school. I don’t receive TAP or the Pell Grant, so I rely on my loans to pay for college.

I do work-study and receive minimum wage, which I use to pay for textbooks and any other expenses that I have. I have a meal plan which is included in my loans. If I didn’t receive work-study aid, I would not be able to attend college.

There are countries that have free college, and opening the doors to education to more people will help future generations. The value of having a degree is huge, and making SUNY free would allow everyone to have the ability of attaining one. 

Daniel Reischer, SUNY Cortland

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I’m currently a sophomore at SUNY Cortland majoring in Political Science. At this point, my plan is to attend graduate school after graduation.

As far as paying for school, I rely on taking out loans, using the financial aid I receive, and having my parents pay some tuition out-of-pocket. I receive both TAP and the Pell Grant, which allow me to pay for school each semester. I don’t work, so I need financial aid to pay my tuition and to pay for textbooks.

If I didn’t receive financial aid, in all likelihood, I would not be able to attend college. So many people struggle to pay for college, which is a large part of why SUNY needs to be fully funded. If SUNY was better funded, those who can’t afford college would be able to go, and middle-class families that have more than one child would have the ability to send all of their children to school.

The biggest challenge that I have faced as a SUNY student is dealing with the stress of not knowing how my parents will pay for my sister to go to college in two years and worrying about paying off my student debt.

Mary Faduski, SUNY Cortland

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I’m a senior at SUNY Cortland majoring in Sociology with a minor in Anthropology. Once I graduate, I plan on getting a job working at a children’s home in case management.

I pay for school with private loans. Because my parents don’t qualify, I don’t receive TAP or the Pell Grant. I have no option but to take out loans. I have to work back home and on the weekends when I’m at school to help pay for college and other expenses that I have.

When it comes to textbooks, my parents help pay for them, but I pay out of pocket for groceries because I don’t have a meal plan. I decided to take out another loan so that I could afford a meal plan, but that hasn’t gone through yet.

Since my dad makes too much, I don’t qualify for financial aid, but my parents still can’t afford to send me to school so my only option was to take out multiple loans and have my dad co-sign them. My parents have already put my two siblings through school, and we all have had to take out loans because it’s just not possible for my parents to pay for us all to go.

My biggest concern is that when I leave school I won’t get a job that will allow me to pay off my loans, which I have to start making payments on six months after graduating. If SUNY was fully funded, I wouldn’t have to worry about paying all these loans back, and it would also open doors for those who can’t afford to attend school.

Michaila Larsen, SUNY Cortland

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I am a senior at SUNY Cortland studying Sociology with a concentration in Criminology. My plan after graduation is to go into social work, and I’m currently looking at a possible job in Maine that doesn’t require a master’s degree. I can’t afford graduate school, and my loans are already collecting interest so I have no option but to only look at jobs that don’t require another degree.

I currently pay for school with subsidized and Stafford loans and a small amount of financial aid. I don’t receive TAP, and I only receive a small amount of aid from the Pell Grant. In order to pay for school, I have to work. I work at the child care center at the YWCA before and after school.

I sometimes use the money I make from my job to pay for textbooks, and my parents help out when they can, but oftentimes if I can’t afford a textbook, I just don’t get it. I have had textbooks that cost more than $100, and I just can’t afford that. I have no option except to not buy the book.

I don’t have a meal plan, so I pay for groceries out of pocket, and sometimes my parents help pay for food. If I didn’t receive financial aid, going to school wouldn’t be an option for me, or I would have no choice but to co-sign another loan.

A fully funded SUNY system would allow those students who can’t afford school to have the ability to attend, and it would help current students stay in school without fear of paying loans back. Some students have no choice but to leave college because, financially, they just can’t do it. How can anyone start a life after graduating when they’re so deep in debt?

Not only is paying for school a challenge I face, but paying for parking is another financial obligation that I have. I would say that I have paid close to $300 in parking tickets since I have been here, and the cost of a parking pass is huge.

The biggest challenge that I’ve faced as a SUNY student is having my classes blocked when I can’t pay my bill. I wasn’t able to register for classes that I needed because I couldn’t make my payment. This could prevent students from graduating on time because certain classes are only offered at specific times, and if students can’t make their payments then they won’t be able to register when the class is offered. This forces students to pay more and stay for another semester.

Courtney Hines, SUNY Cortland

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I’m a senior at SUNY Cortland majoring in philosophy. After I graduate, I plan on working for a nonprofit organization. I pay for school with both financial aid and loans.

I receive TAP and the Pell Grant, and I also have a part-time job during the semester.

When it comes to textbooks, I usually don’t buy them because I can’t afford them. I try to find an online PDF version of the textbook, but if I can’t find that, then I have no option but to not have the book for class. For food, my financial aid covers the cost. I use it to buy groceries.

I depend on my financial aid, and this year I didn’t receive as much as previous semesters. My financial aid went from $4,000 to $400 because my sister moved out so my parents were expected to have that extra money to pay for my tuition. My mom had no choice but to take out a loan to help cover the costs of school.

We need a fully funded SUNY system so that all students have the opportunity to attend college, and they won’t be worried about paying for it. My biggest challenge as a SUNY student has been paying for school and worrying about how my parents are going to help me pay for it. A student’s main focus should not be paying for school; they should be focused on pursuing their education.