Sapphire Garris, Borough of Manhattan Community College

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Part of my tuition is covered through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the rest of my costs are paid out of pocket. This includes textbooks, transportation and additional online fees to access homework assignments for certain courses. I’m a 25 year old mother of a 1 year old son. Gratefully, I managed to find a job on campus, through the COPE program (now called CUNY EDGE, Educate, Develop, Graduate, and Empower) which also pays for his daycare. This allows me to maintain some financial stability for my growing family.

Just like many other students, I cannot afford to pay for all of these costs. Last semester, before I was enrolled in EDGE, I had trouble registering for classes because I had a hold on my account from the Bursar’s office. The balance was $1,050 and I hadn’t gotten any notification that my financial aid wasn’t covering my full tuition. I was required to pay the entire balance before the first day of class. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place! I had to find a way to be able to pay this full amount in such a short amount of time. Eventually I had to ask my family, who were experiencing their own financial burdens. The stress had become overwhelming and it was very hard to stay focused during finals week! I needed help and there was no one to help me. Luckily, now I have a job through the EDGE program which allows me to pay for my tuition, and all other expenses.