My first two semesters at Bronx Community College, I didn’t qualify for financial aid, even though my family lives on only my mother’s income and there are five of us at home with two of my siblings away for college. But, then I enrolled in the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), which has been a blessing for me. The cost of textbooks and a MetroCard is just too much, especially when multiple people are in college at the same time. I remember I was on my way to the financial aid office with the loan application form for Spring 2017 filled out, when I stopped to ask my ASAP advisor a question. I brought up taking out a loan, but she told me that because I qualified for partial Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funding, ASAP would cover the rest. I texted my mom in the office that I had great news. After I spoke to her I felt like I was going to burst out in tears because I was so relieved and blessed, like I had been stopped on my way to making a deal with the devil.
College is a time to be challenged but paying for it shouldn’t be the main stressor. At times, it consumes my thoughts and leaves with me with an anxiety about my education and future, when I want to focus on the hope and excitement of earning a degree. There needs to be a change so that the burden of student debt can be lifted from students. We’re the future, after all.