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Domonique Baker, SUNY New Paltz

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I first got a Medical Assisting certificate at Ridely Lowell, which is a trade school, which I am currently in $18,000 in debt for. I then got my Associates at Dutchess Community College in psychology.  I am now going for my Bachelors in Psychology. I didn’t qualify for any financial aid because I am independent, even though I only make $25,000 a year.

I work full time to cover outside expenses like food, rent, utilities, a car.  I got a better job at a hospital recently which pays a little bit more. I take out loans for New Paltz. If I get a C or above in school, my full time job gives me a grant of $2500 toward tuition. To pay for this semester, I had to put it on a credit card though, because the tuition assistance from my job doesn’t kick in until later. I work full time over night so I only sleep 3 hours a night. Its impossible to study.

If college was free, I wouldn’t have to work so hard, maybe just part time. It would greatly improve my college experience. I’d get to spend more time studying and be able to meet deadlines. Now I record my notes to play while I’m driving. I have to take a course over because I got a D, it was a course that started at 11am but I got out of work at 9:30am and sleep deprivation made it hard to stay awake through the class. I now have to retake the class but it’s full. I often have trouble registering for a class because it interferes with work, especially since I live 30 minutes from campus. If the class is too close to 5pm or right after then I can’t take it. I wanted to get a concentration in organizational psychology but a lot of the required courses were at 8am and since my job wants me to be at work that early it’s not realistic. I need the job though, so what can I do? This limits the options I have for my future prospects of becoming a Physician’s Assistant.

I applied for the Excelsior Scholarship, one day I was on hold for 20 minutes, then 40 minutes. They said I didn’t have enough credits, I was in school for too many semesters, they said over the phone that as long as I don’t have a bachelors and meet the income eligibility I’d get it, but in the 11th hour of the last day they denied it because of credits. When I call them and talk to them no one knows anything.


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