Jade Cooper, City College of NY

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The trick to the financial aid office is you have to go super early to avoid the lines and crowd. The office itself isn’t too bad but calling them is the worst because you’re never going to reach anyone.  The problem is we need more workers, because three people at a desk trying to accommodate a hundred students at a time just doesn’t work.

We need a bigger office and it needs to open earlier so more people have access.

Tony Guardado, City College of NY

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I am a junior studying Biology and plan to go to veterinary school. I receive TAP and the Pell Grant. 

I also have a job which pays for my textbooks and food. 

I used to get a refund check from financial aid that helped but I no longer get that.  If I didn’t receive financial aid I probably wouldn’t be in school.

Ashley Gonzalez, City College of NY

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I major in English Creative Writing and minor in Journalism. It’s been a hassle, there is always something going wrong with FAFSA or financial aid.

It’s a hassle going in and out signing papers so everything can go through. I think our government should make it easier for new and transfer students, because for me as a transfer student there were too many things to do and you have to go to the office instead of being able to do it through FAFSA.


Tiara Jones, City College of NY

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I am an Advertising and Public Relations major. I do not receive TAP or Pell. I take out loans which is always extremely delayed. My refund check is always delayed 3 weeks to a month or longer.

I think there needs to be more opportunities for people who can’t receive financial aid because of their parents even though their parents don’t help them. At one time this school was free. We shouldn’t be struggling month to month figuring out how we’re going to pay for tuition.

Andreina Martinez, City College of NY

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I am a senior majoring in Physiology and minoring in Latin Studies. I’m graduating in May. I plan on getting a job in politics after college so I have a couple of internships with legislators in my community. I am a SEEK student so I get some help from financial aid. I receive the Pell Grant and work here at school as a tutor. I pay for textbooks and food with that money.

Without financial aid I would not be in school. Last year I was concerned with tuition being raised that I would have to take out a loan but I managed my classes so that my financial aid didn’t run out.  A lot of things in high school I took for granted. Like for instance, in high school, you get a metro card provided and don’t have to pay $130 every month. Textbooks are very expensive in college and even if you rent them they cost a lot of money. It’s hard trying to maintain a decent lifestyle like trying to eat healthy and those things while being in school full time or part time. I often still do not have enough money to eat.

A fully funded CUNY would give a lot of opportunity to people who can’t afford it who maybe didn’t have any kind of financial aid programs. Without financial aid a lot of us wouldn’t even be here today.

Cecily Wu, NYC College of Technology

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Due to advisement I don’t expect to graduate on time. I just kind of advised myself and just signed up for the classes that I thought I needed to take, but then one of my classes didn’t fit my degree. So suddenly I wasn’t full time and also wasn’t eligible for TAP anymore.

There are not enough advisers, there are too many kids. If your issue is solvable at the main desk the main desk will help you, but beyond that – especially if you’re not a freshman – they will just help you the best way they think they can, but they won’t assign you to an adviser. I asked for an adviser, and the main desk person asked ‘what’s your problem?’ instead of actually scheduling me with an adviser.

Dillon Johns, NYC College of Technology

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I am an Accounting and Finance major. I have had more trouble getting into my accounting classes, not my engineering (transferred from engineering to accounting). I tried to sign up 2-3 weeks before classes started and one of my classes was closed already. So I had to drop to a part-time course load this semester and hopefully it’s open the next one.

It hasn’t been easy finding an adviser. I went up to the accounting business finance department and I was greeted by a secretary and I was trying to get advisement and she’s like we don’t really do that here… I talked to a professor and he was like, “you know, I’m not really an adviser,” and he directed me to go online and find the information there. 

I’ve needed other services as well like mental health. I did go a couple times to the counselors. They were very nice to me but they really are there to just give you a referral. They did give me a good referral…but I had to pay for it out of my own pocket. It was expensive. If there were people who would do that here, it would help students a lot, financially.

In terms of physical space in our classes, I have been in a lot of situations where the teacher would give up his desk and people would sit at their desk and the professor just stands up and lectures the whole time. When I first signed up here – I was trying to go to class in one of the elevators [but it malfunctioned and] spit me out into a locked maintenance closet and I was sitting in there for like 20 minutes banging on the door. I eventually had to call 911 and the firefighters came up and opened the door. There were 10 firefighters and NYPD standing outside. Some of these elevators have been out of service for who knows how long.

The biggest reason I had to drop out of the electronics engineering program is because there was no support for people in the program. Any support there was you’d have to hopefully be available during your professor’s office hours, and even then they’re not obligated to do that. The lack of support- the lack of readily available tutors on a schedule that I could make is what led me to drop out of that program and seek something that was my second choice, just because there was nobody here.

Nicole L Isaac , NYC College of Technology

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Without financial aid I probably wouldn’t even be at school. I am concerned about graduating on time, because I wouldn’t be able to pay for it by myself. When I first started, I applied for financial aid and then I found out later that I hadn’t applied to TAP, so I applied for TAP and that took care of my outstanding balance [for my tuition], but now I have another outstanding balance.

I still have to pay out of pocket for all of my books. With an account balance, if it’s not payed or taken care of, they put holds on your account, which hinders you from even registering for classes. With an account balance, there’s no way you can even be in class. So that’s a big issue that I and a lot of students are facing in CUNY.

Hannibal Gray, NYC College of Technology

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When first applying for TAP, I had made a mistake on my form, where I said that my sister was my mother because they didn’t really have the guardianship title for TAP.

What I didn’t know is that if you do not live with your parents you can claim as legally independent, so they have me as dependent. I submitted a change form via mail and I gave a notarized letter accompanied with that change form saying that I live with my sister and that I get no financial support from my parents, and they didn’t change anything. They changed everything except for the parent income, which is preventing me from both getting my grades and registering for next semester. Paying for City University shouldn’t be my biggest stress.

Indigo Crittendon, City College of NY

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I am a senior studying International Studies. I will likely be doing advocacy work after college. I get TAP and Pell. Even with financial aid, I still need three jobs to pay for food, textbooks and other expenses. I’m a dog walker, a nanny, and I also clean.

If I didn’t receive financial aid I probably wouldn’t be in school. My biggest struggle in college is money, just trying to survive day to day.