MY name is Sabrina Maharaj and it is my fourth year studying at BMCC. My major is business management and when I graduate BMCC my goal is to work for a business firm. I pay for college through the DISCOVERY program and TAP assistance. My first year of college I had to pay for my tuition out of pocket because I didn’t fill out the correct financial aid forms in time. Because of the confusing and overwhelming forms to fill out for financial aid, my brother had to pay for my tuition out of pocket for me that semester.
Since receiving financial aid, the DISCOVERY program has been very helpful for me to help cover the costs of college. It helps pay for most costs associated with college, except I still have to pay for my transportation costs. I would not be able to afford college if it were not for the DISCOVERY and TAP programs that help me cover the costs. I would have had to get a full time job and I know from experience that juggling both a job and classes makes both very difficult.
Even though I receive financial aid I still did get a job to help my parents pay for the mortgage and other household bills. I would not have been able to afford tuition while also helping my parents out. In 2018 I got a job at the airport as a cashier at a travel sales store. I was waking up at 3:30 in the morning to catch the bus to JFK for my 6am shift. I worked 4 times a week, working 36 hours weekly. Eventually, I had to take a break from classes because it was too much doing both work and school at the same time. During COVID my job laid me off and then they would not rehire me because they found out I was back at school. This makes it very difficult to help pay for costs of living and help my parents with the bills. Tuition needs to be free and there needs to be more financial assistance to college students and their families.
I attend The Borough of Manhattan Community College. I was paying for college through financial aid and the college discovery program. I wasn’t one of the smartest or focused students, so it has been challenging due to the fact that I was required to keep up a certain GPA in order to keep my financial aid.
I started my years at BMCC as an Early Childhood Education major, but I was in the process of changing my major to go into social work. Yes, I have loans, I’m a little worried. I have been in BMCC for some time now and I fear that my financial aid will be finished before I complete my four years. And then even more after that. Financial aid has been very helpful with paying for my classes, but towards the end of every semester, it was hard to buy food because I was in the school for mostly the whole day and also having to pay for my train and bus rides to and from class every single day was hard
In the beginning of my 2019 semester, I got a job and it was helping me a little bit, but for me to get a decent paycheck, I would have to work long hours which distracted me from being able to focus on my school work which has further delayed my education. I do not personally pay for rent, but my mother does, and I felt bad that she had to do it all on her own, so I was trying tirelessly for about 2 years to look for a job to help support her a little bit on top of paying for food and transportation.
Getting a degree for me would mean everything. Everyday I have people asking me, “are you in school”, “when are you finishing school,” etc. I’m just tired of delaying the process. It would also mean a lot to my mom. I would be the first one in my family to go and to complete college. I want to give not just my mom a better life, but myself as well and it would give me a chance to make a difference in the world.
I am majoring in Liberal Arts at BMCC and this is my second year at the school. I have taken an interest in business and accounting and after I graduate I plan on pursuing an internship in those fields.
I am one of the many CUNY students who heavily relies on TAP and the Pell Grant to pay for school. I was also a part of BMCC’s College Discovery program which helped me pay for my textbooks. To provide for myself and assist my family, I work a part time job. My biggest challenge as a CUNY student has been not being able to make use of the resources we have, such as tutoring, because my work schedule would not allow it. My financial struggles have made it quite difficult to graduate on time.
As a working class student, I live with the fact that if it were not for federal assistance I would not be pursuing a college degree right now. Education is not a privilege, it is a right. If people are required to have a degree to make a decent living then education should be more accessible. Most CUNY students are working class students. CUNY deserves better funding so it can continue to provide, improve, and expand services like the childcare center. We deserve the right to an education and better future.