I am a freshman at Nassau Community College. Currently, I’m a Liberal Arts Major, but I’m thinking of switching into the Nursing program. My parents and I pay for school out-of-pocket. I work a lot to help pay for my part. Usually, I work about 25 hours a week, doing five hour shifts five days a week. I used to work less, but I’ve had to increase my hours because of tuition. Now it’s harder to make time for my schoolwork.
As a DACA student, I can’t get any federal aid. I had to look for other scholarships, but it’s been hard because I’m the first person in my family to go to college, so no one could really help me at home. What made things more difficult was that I was almost charged out-of-state tuition. NCC said that since I was not a resident, I did not qualify for in-state tuition. I had to jump through a lot of hoops and send them a lot of extra documents to finally get in-state tuition.
I am a sophomore at Queensborough Community College majoring in sociology. I am graduating after the summer semester 2021 and have applied to Hunter College – Silberman School of Social Work. I want to be a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). I am 31 years old, and I was not able to go to College after graduating high school in 2007. I was one of the many students who was undocumented and was not able to afford going to college. I was not able to get any aid to pursue an education after High school, and it was also very difficult because I had to also work to support my family. I was the eldest of 3 and came to The United States when I was 9.
In 2012 when President Obama passed the Dreamer’s Act. I filed for D.A.C.A and a year later in 2013 I was able to work in the country legally and support my family with a decent paying job. Even after receiving D.A.C.A I was not able to go to school. Because D.A.C.A does not aid students with any financial support. I just had to keep working to support my family because even though I received D.A.C.A my parents did not. So, the responsibility lied heavily on me.
I met my husband in 2013 and we dated for 5 years, before getting married in 2018. He is an American citizen, and I got my Green Card a year after we got married. I applied to Queensborough Community College on my 30-birthday rewarding myself with progressing my education, trying to achieve my goals. I thought it would be easier now paying for school and I would qualify for getting financial aid but that was definitely not the case. I applied for FAFSA and was denied because now together my husband and I made over the threshold amount to receive financial aid. At this time, I was still working trying to support my family.
Soon after in 2020 the pandemic hit, I lost my job. My husband and I had some savings which are getting used to pay for school and textbooks. FAFSA still will not approve me for any aid, since they use taxes from years prior to see if you qualify. I have made numerous attempts to apply to the Excelsior Scholarship, TAP and PELL for assistance but got denied yet again. My husband works, and I go to school. It has been really tough, but we make it work. We do not have any children; I am an excellent student and have been on the dean’s list since I started college. I was not even aware of being on the Dean’s list, till I saw my transcript. I then proceeded to ask my advisor if that shows for anything, and his answer was “Unfortunately, that doesn’t do much but congratulations”.
Fortunately, I am not below the poverty line but living in New York and paying high prices for everything means paying for college has not gotten any easier. It has been a really long journey for me to achieve my goals. We need a fully funded CUNY because there are students like me who are still stuck in limbo. First, I was undocumented I couldn’t afford tuition because of no tuition assistance and I had to take care of my family, then I was approved for D.A.C.A still couldn’t afford school because D.A.C.A does not make you eligible for any financial assistance, it just makes you legal so you can pay taxes and continue to work. When I received my green card, I was still left out with any financial support because the combined income was over the threshold.
There are millions of me out there, who would like to pursue their dreams but are not able to because of finances. Having a fully funded CUNY would help New Yorkers like me, finish school, get a decent job so we are not stuck in limbo when it comes to our future. I am fortunate enough that I have a partner who supports me and my dreams. But most do not, and a Fully funded CUNY would really help those who have struggled and are struggling to get a higher education to pursue their goals and dreams.