Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19’

Melissa Hernandez, SUNY Cortland

My name is Melissa Hernandez and I attend SUNY Cortland full time. I am a senior and have been here since freshman year. I am from Long Island, and my Senate District is 3 and my Assembly District is 16. When I was applying to college my first choice was University of Tampa but unfortunately I did not get enough financial aid to afford it and began to look at SUNY and CUNY schools. Out of all the SUNY and CUNY schools I applied to, I felt that SUNY Cortland was the best fit for me. I had toured many schools previously and although I toured Tampa and fell in love, SUNY Cortland also gave me the same feeling I felt when I toured Tampa. I knew a few people who had gone to Cortland and heard all their great memories which made me feel more comfortable and excited to come. I am majoring in political science and I do really enjoy this major. I am taking a year off before applying to graduate school to focus on myself and future opportunities.

I pay my tuition through the help of my parents and financial aid.  I am fortunate enough that my tuition has been paid through financial aid. I work almost everyday over the summer to help pay sometimes my rent at school and other personal spending I might have. I am the first child in my family to go to college and understood that my parents would not be able to pay full tuition without getting some financial help, however, before I began my college career I always had the impression that going to a SUNY or CUNY school would be considered to be less than nothing in terms of tuition. I think that since tuition has risen over the decade it is very unfortunate for many, myself included. It is not fair that society places this idea that college is a stepping stone for an individual to get a good job and make it in today’s world. Not only is tuition an expense at college but textbooks are another cost for students. Textbooks depending on the class vary but still add up and can be very expensive. Textbooks should not be an extra expense for students. 

The pandemic was a hard time for my family because my mom is diabetic which meant she was at a high risk, which then made it difficult for my dad to continue to work. My mom is a nanny and my dad has a painting service. My dad is an independent company which already makes it hard enough, and then when the pandemic hit it made it harder for him. During this time, I had recovered from unemployment and later began working again in July which allowed me to save enough money to pay my rent junior year without the help of my parents because of how tight money was. 

I personally always wanted to go to college because of the promise that going to college means I would have a good job. I want to finish my degree to have a comfortable life and be able to support myself. I think that although school does cost a lot I would still be at school, however, I would have prepared myself financially before I attended. 

Alexis DiBartolo, SUNY Cortland

My name is Alexis DiBartolo and I am from Long Island, New York. Specifically, I live in Nassau county in Massapequa Park, where my Senate and Assembly District is 9. I am currently a senior at SUNY Cortland and a history major. I decided to go to SUNY Cortland because I would like to become a social studies teacher, and SUNY Cortland has a great education program. My family pays for most of my tuition and fees, as I do not get any financial aid. Fortunately, I only have a small amount in loans to pay back. I work during the summer, about 17 hours a week for my family’s restaurant and also babysit to provide for my spending money at Cortland. I do not pay for textbooks or rent, as my parents provide me with money for that. 

Because of the global pandemic, my college experience definitely changed. Online learning is certainly not for me. I very much would rather be in a classroom and in-person, then being taught by a computer screen. Onlines classes definitely made learning harder and less enjoyable. I am glad to finally be back in all in-person classes my final year at Cortland. Thankfully, the pandemic has not affected the way my parents pay for my college education. My dad’s job was not lost, and still continued throughout the pandemic. 

To me, getting a college degree is very important. Education, in my opinion, is very powerful and the passport to a successful future. Without my college degree, I would not be able to become the teacher that I passionately want to be. In the future, I am not too worried about paying back my student loans since it is typically a part of every student’s life. Also, I do not owe that much in student loans thankfully, so I am not super worried. 

Personally, I feel as though higher education in SUNY/CUNY schools could be better. Free tuition is only given to those whose parents make under a certain amount of money, and my father makes over the amount, thus I do not get free tuition or financial aid. And while my family lives a comfortable life, it is still at times challenging to pay for school as I have two other siblings who also went to college. Just because a parent makes a certain amount of money, does

Jordan Gibberman, Purchase College

My name is Jordan Gibberman and I am a student at  SUNY Purchase. My experiences paying for college all began in the summer of 2018 before freshman year. My family and I had to apply for student loans all because I decided to live on campus. We didn’t have a lot of money to afford housing and meal plans, so the loans were the only option. We applied for a federal loan that my school offered us, but even that wasn’t enough. Additionally, we applied for a private loan from College Ave. In other words, I have two different kinds of student loans. 

This would last up to the midpoint of the Spring 2020 semester, when I transitioned to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, I came to an important realization that going away to school is super expensive and staying at home is just right for me. So, my family and I stopped applying for student loans and focused on paying for school with financial aid, along with the Excelsior scholarship that I had throughout my whole college experience. That scholarship only helped me cover the tuition, and the only reason I qualified for it was because I go to a SUNY school and the governor at the time created it for students who want to go to SUNY schools, but have low household income. 

I certainly hope I qualify for student loan forgiveness. That would be a huge benefit for me as I would only be paying back less than what I currently owe, which honestly isn’t that much compared to what students normally would have during normal times. Overall, I wish I didn’t have to go through this experience paying for college — it’s honestly one of the reasons why I often think about if I should’ve gone to college or not.

Leslie Spinosa, Pratt Institute

Leslie Spinosa is a first-year student at Pratt Institute. Although apprehensive about the remote learning option offered to her after committing to Pratt, Leslie felt somewhat obligated to accept the offer in fear of losing her presidential merit scholarship or loans in the future. Leslie was accepted into Pratt in Spring of 2020, right before COVID-19 had kicked into high gear. Given her family’s financial security at the time, she felt confident in committing to the institute with reliance on her presidential merit scholarship, student loans, and federal work study allotment. However, that security was compromised in the wake of COVID-19, as her father was out of work as a car dealer for months. Mr. Spinosa applied for a pell grant to provide his family some relief, however it never followed through. Now, he is back at his job, however business is slow and school has become harder to pay for as a result. Leslie has taken on a job of her own to help out, however, with the especially chaotic schedule of online school, she has not been able to take on enough work hours to generate a significant income. Not being able to work on campus to acquire her federal work study money has been a major loss. Additionally, Leslie’s family income was higher at the time of applying for the FAFSA, resulting in a lower grant which, in light of her current financial situation, has left her to rely heavily on loans. Further, Leslie has dealt with her fair share of basic struggles with the new remote learning system. She often finds it difficult to count on consistent communication with her professors, and has had a particularly hard time getting her questions answered by her financial aid advisor, leaving her in the dark about where she stands with the school. Despite all of this, Leslie has worked exceptionally hard to make it through the semester thus far, and will continue to push forward through these trying circumstances. Leslie sees the great value and necessity in acquiring her college degree, and hopes Pratt will provide her with the technical skills and connections to launch her post-graduate career.

Olivia Sudol, City College of New York

A lot of people fail to consider how financial aid needs to cover more than just tuition. The living expenses associated with getting a college education quickly add up and end up costing students thousands of dollars on necessities — mandatory expenses that not everyone can afford. Even though I was lucky enough to get financial assistance to afford my tuition, like many other students, I’m left responsible for hundreds of dollars in books and transportation each semester as well as thousands of dollars for housing. 

I lived on campus at City College when COVID-19 hit; we were told we would receive partial refunds for leaving our leases early but we only received this money six months later. Additionally, many students had already signed lease agreements for the Fall 2020 semester, and the only financial solution for them was to pay $1000 to terminate that lease or be held responsible for the full $12-18 thousand dollars. Most students pay for dorming with their finances and the refunds could have had a significant impact on students who lost income due to the pandemic. In a twisted way, COVID-19 has made college more affordable for me by reducing the cost of transportation to campus and allowing me to live with my parents instead of paying for housing. It’s time politicians in Albany acknowledge the external costs of higher education.

Eric Jing Guo, Buffalo State College

Eric Jing Guo has been a student for many many years. He has had to take out loans to be able to pay for his education since he didn’t receive any assistance from the state. Like many students, he  is worried about paying back his looming student debt. 

But Eric is a dedicated student and has worked incredibly hard to get to where he is today, as a graduate student, a teacher’s assistant, and a research assistant in his field of study, which is public/non-profit management, as well as market computer discipline science. Eric hopes to use the knowledge he has gained through his college experience to help small businesses promote themselves and grow their markets. He feels that in today’s world, a college education is important to succeed. 

The pandemic has hit everyone, but thankfully Eric was at the very end of his degree, and since he is taking his final class to graduate he said it has not been too much of a burden on him, however, he and his cousin have both lost income due to these trying circumstances. But one thing Eric has noticed is just how much the pandemic affects the class dynamic. It comes as no surprise that overall communication between teachers and students has become more difficult, as sending an email doesn’t exactly lend for the best back and forth sort of discussion that is necessary for fostering education. 

Eric doesn’t have too much more to go before he accomplishes his goal and is thankful for all the individual support he has received from his professors and peers over his time being a student in America.