Andi Bruce, SUNY Cortland

I’m a freshman at SUNY Cortland studying English and philosophy with minors in women, gender, and sexuality studies, and in economics. At this point, I don’t have a definite plan for after graduation.

I pay for school with scholarships, financial aid, and loans. I receive TAP and the Pell Grant, and I also work through the work-study program as a part of my financial aid. I use my aid to pay for some of my tuition and textbooks, and I have a meal plan. Like many other students, if I didn’t receive financial aid I would not be able to attend college.

My biggest challenge as a student has been thinking about the future. The Excelsior scholarship was not clear about how they deduct Pell and TAP grants, so my parents had to take out an extra loan right before the tuition bill was due so I could afford to go here. I’m going to have all this debt to pay off when I leave college, and that’s stressful to think about.

We need fully funded colleges because in this economy you can’t rise up without a college education, and preventing someone from receiving such an education is depriving them of equal opportunity and a chance at the life they want and deserve. I think college should be free for everyone, everywhere. Education should be a right, not a privilege.