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Posts Tagged ‘credit requirements’

Megan, SUNY New Paltz

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I am a double major: Sociology with a concentration in Criminology and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. As a senior at SUNY New Paltz, I’m not yet sure what I will be doing after graduation. I will likely be moving back home with my parents and working on Long Island in order to save money and plan for the future. I am paying for school through loans. I work about 34 hours a week between my two paid jobs. I also have an unpaid internship. Although I have worked throughout all four years of college, it is likely that I will have very little saved upon graduation as I have to spend my money on costs like groceries and rent.  I pay for books myself or share the cost/book with a classmate.

If I did not receive financial aid, I would be taking out more loans and therefore graduate with even worse debt than I will already be facing. Since I am a transfer student, a large sum of credits from my former university were not accepted at SUNY New Paltz. I did not think I would be able to graduate on time but am doing so by taking 18-credit course loads and enrolling in summer and winter classes that are not covered by financial aid.

We need fully funded SUNY and CUNY because education should be treated as a right, not a privilege. It is unacceptable that cuts are being made to opportunity programs that assist students who need the most support. More than that, it is disheartening that students like myself have to work multiple jobs on top of taking classes and being involved in our campus communities. We are over-worked, lack sleep and are sometimes malnourished.

Although I am extraordinarily busy, I make time for NYPIRG in order to advocate for things like fully-funded higher education and voter rights with the hope that generations to come don’t have to face the same struggles as myself and many of my peers. My story is not unique and absolutely not the worst of the pack. There are students who are responsible for going to school, paying for their livelihood (rent, groceries, medicine, etc.) who are also responsible for supporting their families at home, whether it be parents, siblings or children. Fully-funded SUNY and CUNY would alleviate the stressors that cause many students to drop-out of college. They would likely also increase enrollment rates, as money and/or lack of access to financial aid is one of the major reasons people choose not to go to college. Education is a right! And we will continue to fight, fight, fight!

Kim Wylie, Queens College

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I am currently part of the Macaulay Honors Program where I am a sophomore double majoring in Psychology and Political Science. In the future I plan on pursuing my master’s degree in criminal psychology. I also receive full TAP and Pell grants which pay for my college career. If it would not be for these grants, I would have to take out various student loans to be able to afford college.

My biggest challenge as a CUNY student receiving TAP and Pell is taking fifteen credits a semester to graduate on time without these grants running out.  As far as my other expenses go such as food, textbooks, and transportation my parents help me out. There needs to be a fully funded CUNY. In today’s economy one can not get a decent paying job without a diploma, therefore making it a necessity and not a commodity. Also, at the most basic level education should be accessible to all.

Christy Suquitana, Queens College

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I am currently a freshman majoring  in political science and minoring in Urban Studies. After graduation, I plan on going to law school.  I pay for tuition through TAP and Pell Grants, and my parents assist me with the costs of textbooks. TAP only covers four years of financial aid, so I must take fifteen credits per semester to graduate on time. If TAP would cover summer and winter courses then it would lighten my load over the fall and spring semesters. Along with being a full time college student, I also work part time to financially assist my family.  It is nearly impossible to make college my first priority when I feel overwhelmed with the overload of credits and working.

CUNY and SUNY should be fully funded, so that specifically my two siblings will not have to feel pressured to work in order to afford college. In terms of my college experience, CUNY needs to be better funded. I had difficulty registering for a calculus class which I needed to fulfill a core requirement.

Additionally, finding an academic adviser who will be able to give me accurate advice is very hard. At the beginning of my Freshman year, I had a question regarding financial aid. One adviser gave me inaccurate advice which almost caused me to lose my financial aid due to the fact, that there are not enough advisers for the amount of students. She had to rush when giving me advice in order to make time for the long line of students waiting to be advised. This budget deficit at CUNY could have had detrimental effects on my college career.

Suraiya Priyanka, Hunter College

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I am a second semester freshman at Hunter College and currently undeclared because I’m narrowing down which major interests me most. I am trying to graduate college as soon as possible, which means I have to take 15 credits per semester, but that is very difficult when you also have to work and support your parents. I receive financial aid from TAP and Excelsior, but that only covers my tuition and Excelsior only gives me a few hundred dollars. I considered applying for ASAP since it would’ve been very helpful to me, but it is not offered at my college. I have to pay for my other expenses including textbooks, food, and transportation.

In my four people household, my dad is the only one that works full time and I work a part time job two days a week. If I decided to prioritize earning money and worked a couple extra days, I wouldn’t be able to focus on school and graduate on time. I already struggle to pay for food, textbooks, and transportation so if I didn’t receive aid to cover my tuition, I would not be able to go to college at all. In high school, I didn’t have to worry about all these things and all of a sudden, with all of this pressure being put on me, I constantly find myself trying to balance school and work and am left with no time to relax. Taking 5 classes every semester and also working is too much to handle and as a result, I am concerned that I won’t be able to do well in school or graduate on time.

We need a fully funded CUNY because many students depend on it. New York City is filled with low-income students and families who choose CUNY because it is advertised as a more affordable option, when in reality it is not. So far, my biggest challenge with being a CUNY student has been financial aid. If all my college expenses were paid for and covered by the government, I would be able to focus a lot more on my education and not have to stress about my finances. CUNY needs to be free again because New Yorkers need free public college now more than ever before.

Susan Brea Riley, SUNY New Paltz

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I have a few grants, some scholarships, and the Excelsior Scholarship. I pay for nothing but books, however the Excelsior Scholarship definitely needs to be a little more transparent with its requirements. I didn’t have an issue with it at first but then they didn’t want to give me the scholarship even after I qualified and was accepted for it because I had 9 credits on my transcript from a school I used to go to. 

There, I paid out of pocket for everything and it was too expensive. I had to budget a lot of things out of my shopping list and even went on a diet due to my school expenses while at my last school. I was considering taking out loans before the Excelsior Scholarship came around because I was literally putting my health at risk by not wasting money that could go into school. College is a necessity. There is no reason for it to be treated like it’s a luxury when we have western countries being just as successful as we are.

Levi Castle, Queens College

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I come from a middle class background in a family of 9 so I never expected to get any financial assistance from my parents. I also never expected to receive financial aid from the government because of my father’s income. I knew college would mean debt and I’ve accepted that. However, I don’t think it’s something that I should have had to accept or that future generations should accept. I work two part time jobs along with an 18-credit schedule and an internship. I am also a part of a resident planning committee for my dorms.

I don’t regret all the hard work I do because I know it’s making me a better person every day.  But, I do not like that on top of all that I do, I still have to worry about finding several thousands of dollars in order to continue making contributions to my college and the surrounding community. I have wanted to attend college since I was a little kid, in my mind it represented the first step towards achieving the American dream. However as time went on and I woke up to the reality of America’s true nature, I have come to terms with the fact that I’m going to have to work as hard as I physically and mentally can just to achieve stability.  My legislators owe it not only me but to the honor of their office to make sure the financial burden of college becomes a thing of the past.