I am a double major in English and Professional Writing. I transferred to SUNY Cortland in Fall 2020, and am on my last semester. Why Cortland? I’m a homebody and wanted to be able to afford to travel home often. My credits from community college would also transfer well if I picked a SUNY school. Throughout five and a half years of college, I have been able to receive FAFSA, TAP, and Pell Grants. My mom has taken out “Parent Plus” loans for me, and I have taken out loans myself. I’ve had to pay out of pocket a couple semesters to cover the last bit that the government wouldn’t.
Though I have been thankful to not pay as much, I’m still worried about college tuition. As I’ve heard many say, college feels like a scam. You are to pay all this money, but you are not always guaranteed a full-time job right after graduating. You are, however, guaranteed a large sum of student debt. I cannot say I completely disagree. College is highly beneficial in that you grow as a person in more ways than you can count. Yet, it doesn’t always seem worth the money. I’ve seen people graduate, only to find any part-time job that can guarantee them enough to pay off their debt and bills each month.
What’s one thing that can change? The requirements of the Excelsior Scholarship. This is a program that seems reasonable, receiving tuition-free semesters as long as you work in the state for as long as you participate in the program. What the application doesn’t tell you is if you take any time off from school in the time you are completing your degree, you are not eligible. The Excelsior Scholarship came out when I was about to be done with community college. I took a gap year between that and Cortland, to make sure I was pursuing what I genuinely wanted to. I also needed to save up money and secure a more reliable form of transportation. When I started in Cortland, I applied to this program but was denied because I had a break between semesters. It was disheartening, as I knew I’d be a full-time student for the rest of my college career and would really benefit from this program.
I can only hope that the expensive education I have, and will continue, to pay for, pays off. There is still much to do to secure better higher education for all. With this change will come more educated and caring individuals that can have brighter futures, changing the world for the better one degree at a time.