Posts Tagged ‘EOP’

Ashmani Appu, Hunter College

I am a freshman at Hunter College currently studying Biology. After college, I plan on going to medical school to further my education. I do not pay for school on my own, I receive financial aid. I receive TAP, Pell, and am a part of the SEEK opportunity program. I pay for my textbooks with the money I receive from Seek. I do not work but am trying to find a job to help support my family with money. I do not receive SNAP or work-study and pay for food with my SEEK checks and other financial aid. If I did not receive financial aid, I would have to resort to taking out a loan or finding a job so that I can make my own money. I am somewhat concerned about graduating on time, because I might not be able to complete all of my prerequisites for my major in time.

We need a fully-funded CUNY for low-income students who are not in any opportunity programs like SEEK or EOP and have to depend on other means such as working or work-study to pay for college. Many students could benefit from increased investment. Too many students have to rely on balancing jobs, school, and loans.

Jacqueline Escobar, Queens College

I was raised in Hempstead, NY in Long Island, in a town that’s most talked about as “chaotic” and “helpless.” I was raised in a family of six, with two Latino parents who came into this country with a different vision for my sisters and me—to pursue much more in this life.

We lived in a basement, all six of us. It was deteriorating and we had no stove, no refrigerator. We starved together; we cried together. Every night, I saw how much I was losing weight, and I just let it happen because I used all my funds just so that my family can eat. Senior year of high school came, and we were still in the basement. I received 6 scholarships, and to be honest, I didn’t use them for me. I used them to feed my family.

I wasn’t psyched about the milestones like high school graduation, but then I applied for an on-spot admissions to Long Island University, to the HEOP Program. I sat with Directors who questioned my reasons for wanting to be in college, and I answered them: “I want to support my family.” I became an HEOP student, and I received academic and financial support. This brought tears of joy. Upon my return back to Hempstead, my parents hugged me and told me, ”We are proud of you” in Spanish.

In 2018, everyone in my family went our separate ways, due to the financial burdens we kept facing. I wasn’t ready for the leap. I kept this secret from my family, but I became homeless and had to sleep inside my co-worker’s car because I had no funds and nowhere to stay. Now, in 2019, I rent a room in Hempstead, and I visit my family.

I am now a SEEK student at Queens College and transferred from LIU Post with a 3.5 GPA. Because of HEOP and SEEK, I can almost give my family and myself the better life we desired for a long time. Because of these programs, I am able to advocate for the youth in Hempstead and tell them that no matter how hard the trials are back at home, an education will heal them. It’s because of programs like HEOP and SEEK that I’ve gained confidence and the voice to share my story. As a SEEK student now, I am proud to say that I receive all the help I need from the SEEK program in Queens College.

We all have a story to share, and I am not politicizing this issue. I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I am a human being that cares for all. Us students, who face immense poverty and some academic trails, need SEEK, HEOP, and EOP. Funding these programs will illuminate the lives of those who need support and help those who struggle and yet work multiple jobs, just to receive a degree.

Because of Queens College SEEK, I was able to share my story with you, and I thank you for your time. Please continue to fund these programs because the underrepresented need them.

Alexis Pillot, SUNY New Paltz

I am a senior at SUNY New Paltz majoring in communication disorders with a minor in deaf studies. After college, I intend on pursuing a career as an audiologist. I am currently employed as a cashier at the Student Union Building, and I also do catering for on-campus events.

Working on campus is the only way I can ensure that I will stay enrolled in school. I have always had to work in order to manage my expenses, especially school fees that were mandatory for me to pay out-of-pocket in order to stay in school. I have come really close to being kicked out of school because my financial aid was not enough to cover all of the costs. Thankfully, I was able to use the money I received from my campus jobs to pay off any remaining amounts.

I receive both TAP and Pell Grants, but that is not enough. I had to increase my unsubsidized loans for it to cover tuition and room and board. I could only get approval to increase my unsubsidized loan if my Parent Plus loan was denied.

I am an Educational Opportunity Student (EOP), and this program has helped me cover the majority of the costs for school. Without EOP, I’m not sure if I would still be in college. This program has been a great help for me from the beginning.

Felix Santos, SUNY New Paltz

I am a junior at SUNY New Paltz, studying sociology with a concentration in criminology and a minor in communications. On campus I have been a student assistant at the Sweets N’ Treats bakery and a student chef at Peregrine Dining Hall. Working at these locations provided help with finances and helped me buy food because after a while campus food gets old. Working on campus also helped me pay off the money that I owed to the school because financial aid couldn’t cover all of my tuition and fees even though I receive the maximum amount for the TAP and Pell Grants.

I am very grateful to be a part of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). EOP has helped me in tons of ways. First, in terms of financial aid, they provide up to $1,400 towards financial aid. Although it does help, it still did not cover all of my financial needs for the semesters. Sometimes towards the end, the program receives leftover money from schools in order to help fund the missing amount from a student’s financial aid.

EOP has helped guide me through the criteria of college by giving me an idea of what to expect from classes, especially since it was a big transition from high school. EOP has also helped me in the process of deciding what major was best for me, and the program provided connections in order for me to succeed. Those resources are even there for me when the semester hits and anxiety and stress takes over my body.

I have been facing problems with financial aid since I started school. I was never told that the amount of financial aid you receive depends on the amount of credits you earn in a year. One semester during freshman year I took 12 credits instead of 15, and you need 30 credits to be considered a sophomore. At the beginning of my sophomore semester, I had to take about a thousand dollars out-of-pocket in order to pay off the school since my financial aid didn’t cover all of my bill. And with loans, I’m not allowed to take out a certain amount of money because I didn’t qualify to be a sophomore that year. I was too scared to take out another loan (the Parent Plus loan).

It’s really hard to pay that amount because $1,000 isn’t pocket change, especially since I come from a family that relies on an insignificant income. I had to rely on the funds that I earned from working at the on-campus job that I had. This year I was faced with taking out the Parent Plus loan, and I ended up doing it. A lot of my friends dropped out because they couldn’t pay the amount that they owed to the school.

Ceianna Farquharson, Buffalo State College

I am a currently a freshman, undeclared major as for now, but studying to be a language interpreter. I receive financial aid from TAP and the Pell Grant and I am currently an EOP student. I also am currently receiving a grant from the New York Yankees because of my mother.

My biggest challenge is trying to stay calm and not to feel overwhelmed by the workload. I receive a lot of support. EOP supplies me with two textbooks and my family sends money to pay for the rest of my books. I have a meal plan paid through financial aid and also my mother helps me pay for food. I also do receive SNAP benefits as well. Also, I have a goal to complete work at a gradual pace so I won’t be overwhelmed by a last minute urgency.

We need SUNY fully funded because students who take the initiative to go into higher education deserve to be supported for their desire for higher success. Please continue to fund our schools and to fund me.

Nagdeska Paulino, SUNY New Paltz

I am a junior, and I am majoring in Sociology with two minors in Anthropology and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. I do not have any idea about what I am doing after college, but a plan I briefly contemplated is going for my Master’s and teaching sociology. So far, half of my tuition and other school bills have been paid by grants like Pell and TAP and the other half has been loans.

I am not a part of any opportunity programs; EOP would have been nice but the program rejected me because my high school GPA was one point too high. I have a work study job that does not really produce anything substantial; we’re halfway through the semester and I have not received one check. Honestly, I have been flat broke for a while so I finessed textbooks this semester and managed to get all but one of them for free.

I only use my meal plan for food but if I did not have enough financial aid to pay for it, I would probably only eat once a day. I don’t think I’m concerned about graduating on time but it would not surprise me if I had to stay longer than I would like to. A fully funded SUNY would be beneficial since I would not feel as though I’m walking with a -$30,000 above my head every day. Just the thought of the loans I’ve already accumulated, only two years into my degree, makes me want to not do my work. This morphs into procrastination and we all know how that goes. My biggest challenges have been having to decide which assignments are more worth printing out since my printing quota is depreciating quickly and wanting to go home but having no money for a trailways ticket.   

Ariyah Adams, SUNY New Paltz

I am currently a junior majoring  in communications with a concentration in public relations and double minoring in theater and business. I pay for tuition through TAP and Pell Grants, as well as take out loans to cover the the rest of my bill. After I graduate I plan on attending graduate school at either SUNY New  Paltz or a different SUNY. I am still undecided about that. I plan on paying for graduate school through applying for grants and scholarships.

Right now I am working two jobs, I work at the dining hall on campus and I have a work study job. I don’t depend on money from my parents so usually I pay for my textbooks and food on my own or a split the cost of the textbook with a friend or classmate in the same class as me. I am also a student at the Educational Opportunity Program at my school which has helped me a lot, getting through navigating financial aid. If this program didn’t exist I’m not sure if I would be in college. The EOP program has helped me grow into a strong individual and has offered me tutoring, mentors and advisors that always have my back.

Flor Najera, SUNY New Paltz

/Users/charliewebber/Desktop/IMG_0905.JPG

I am a Public Relations major and Journalism minor.  I intend to graduate in December 2019. After college, I plan on attaining a stable job where I will pursue marketing and get a place of my own. However, I am not ruling out graduate school. I pay for school through financial aid as well as the two loans I took out. I feel blessed to be a part of the EOP program, where I have had an advisor and group of students in similar positions as me for the last four years helping me navigate the SUNY system.  I receive TAP and work study – I work at the student union front desk. I pay for textbooks through financial aid and receive a refund check of $150 per semester. In the case of that not being enough to afford all textbooks, I will turn to scanning or finding the electronic version.

Help also comes from Alumni donations to EOP that are applied toward paying for books.  I live on campus and have a meal plan that is paid for within financial aid. I do not make use of the childcare center located on campus, as I do not have any children. However, I still find the center to be beneficial because some of my professors bring their children there so they can teach for the day, which in turn allows me to receive an education. If I did not receive financial aid, I would still find a way to attend college, whether that be working as many shifts as possible, applying for scholarships, and loans.  It is important for me to receive at least a bachelor’s degree because of the difference it makes having one vs. not having one in the real world.

My family and I are immigrants. I am fortunate that I am able to attend college and receive a degree, and I am one of the first in my family to achieve this. My brothers did not go to college and had to work straight out of high school to help out my family financially. It’s tough because most businesses are expanding their credential requirements, most requiring a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. How can we work toward achieving what is required of us if it is not made available?


Ismael Ali, Hunter College

I am a junior at Hunter College majoring in Political Science with a minor in Black Studies. I am also the first person in my family to go to college. Right now, my main priority is to graduate as soon as possible so I can get a job to provide for my family and pay my student loans.

I was first a college student at SUNY New Paltz where I was part of the Education Opportunity Program (EOP). One of my main challenges at New Paltz was the price of textbooks. Even though I was working two on-campus jobs, I found myself spending two thirds of my paycheck towards textbooks. I addressed the issue to my EOP advisor, who cared and loved me like their own, and they were able to help me with an EOP book voucher. This voucher helped me to pay for the rest of my school supplies. The downside is that this book voucher is limited. I know that I am one of so many students who struggle with textbook costs.

In the fall of 2018, I transferred to Hunter College. The first thing that comes to mind when people ask me why I transferred is the fact that the cost of tuition at SUNY New Paltz was overwhelming. As a full-time college student, it was impossible for me to get a job that would cover my tuition so every semester I had to take out loans.  

I’m now in SEEK. Like EOP, Search for Education Elevation and Knowledge Program (SEEK) helps me with my textbooks and provides me with an advisor. Thanks to the SEEK program, my transition from New Paltz to Hunter College was very smooth. This is why we need true leadership from our representatives to defend and expand opportunity programs.

Avalann Bargallo, Buffalo State College

I was raised in a single parent household with my two sisters. My mom worked full time to support us all. She didn’t get the opportunity to go to college but wanted better for me and my sisters. No one in my family has finished a four year degree yet and that is mainly because of the financial burden.

I am a full time student enrolled in the EOP program and do receive financial aid, but that covers tuition. I still have multiple loans in my name I had to take out and have worked 1-2 jobs during the school years to pay for living expenses such as books, food, my car, and most recently off campus rent because seniors aren’t allowed to live on campus anymore. I would love to just focus on school but that’s not possible.

I am worried about paying back those students loans and possibly wanting to further my education because of the costs. Investing in higher education will greatly improve the future students of New York.