I am a Sophomore at Hunter College. I am a political science major and I hope to become a lawyer when I graduate. I was inspired to pursue this major when I met a lawyer during career day in middle school who had studied the same thing. She seemed very educated and passionate and I knew I wanted to follow in the same footsteps. I have received TAP and I think the recent improvements were very helpful. Part time TAP now receives more funding and students can feel less pressure when making decisions on whether to go to school or to go college. Thankfully, I have not had any big challenges paying for colleges. Upon finding out there was a portion of my tuition that was not covered this semester, I promptly filled some forms with the VA and their military assisted programs to cover the balance. Between the military program, TAP, Pell and Excelsior all of my tuition and other expenses have been covered thankfully and I have not had to take out loans. The only issues I have faced with finding professors is with certain prerequisites only being offered in the fall. This was a little confusing because then I had to plan in advance of what classes I think I could take each semester to graduate on time.
My experience, especially as a freshman, was not great. I was told a lot of false information about having to take the classes chosen for you when you first enter and about not being able to drop them. I had an advisor who did not really assist me but instead told me to use DegreeWorks. I emailed her with questions and till this day never received a response. Now that I am a sophomore, I think I am more accustomed to the system and therefore need less advising. DegreeWorks and I are now best friends and when I have any large questions, I can ask a professor in the department I am wondering about. Professors and general advisors have been more helpful than the advisor I was assigned.
I am a double major in English and Professional Writing. I transferred to SUNY Cortland in Fall 2020, and am on my last semester. Why Cortland? I’m a homebody and wanted to be able to afford to travel home often. My credits from community college would also transfer well if I picked a SUNY school. Throughout five and a half years of college, I have been able to receive FAFSA, TAP, and Pell Grants. My mom has taken out “Parent Plus” loans for me, and I have taken out loans myself. I’ve had to pay out of pocket a couple semesters to cover the last bit that the government wouldn’t.
Though I have been thankful to not pay as much, I’m still worried about college tuition. As I’ve heard many say, college feels like a scam. You are to pay all this money, but you are not always guaranteed a full-time job right after graduating. You are, however, guaranteed a large sum of student debt. I cannot say I completely disagree. College is highly beneficial in that you grow as a person in more ways than you can count. Yet, it doesn’t always seem worth the money. I’ve seen people graduate, only to find any part-time job that can guarantee them enough to pay off their debt and bills each month.
What’s one thing that can change? The requirements of the Excelsior Scholarship. This is a program that seems reasonable, receiving tuition-free semesters as long as you work in the state for as long as you participate in the program. What the application doesn’t tell you is if you take any time off from school in the time you are completing your degree, you are not eligible. The Excelsior Scholarship came out when I was about to be done with community college. I took a gap year between that and Cortland, to make sure I was pursuing what I genuinely wanted to. I also needed to save up money and secure a more reliable form of transportation. When I started in Cortland, I applied to this program but was denied because I had a break between semesters. It was disheartening, as I knew I’d be a full-time student for the rest of my college career and would really benefit from this program.
I can only hope that the expensive education I have, and will continue, to pay for, pays off. There is still much to do to secure better higher education for all. With this change will come more educated and caring individuals that can have brighter futures, changing the world for the better one degree at a time.
I currently attend The Borough of Manhattan Community College and I’m a Science major. I got in on an excelsior scholarship and with limited financial aid. So, I had transferred to BMCC in my freshman year in the Spring semester and was put into a remedial math course after I had taken it at my other school before BMCC and I passed it as well. It took me some time to get it dealt with but I was able to speak to a deputy teacher in the department who said that she’d try me out of it but that it was past the deadline to drop classes, but I managed through that pitfall.
Right now, the only thing that’s really holding me back is the pandemic. I have also been battling some health issues, nothing connected to Covid-19, but still enough to keep me out of class for a while. I would love to be given a break by the school board because some classes have gotten more difficult due to the professor being hard to work with and the pandemic throwing everything off. I had no loans and when I had a job I was working roughly 20 plus hours a week, since I worked when I had a day off of school or had a class finish early. I normally worked on night shifts, I was also a full time student during this time.
For some reason financial aid only paid for half of my tuition, I had no idea why, but the pandemic kinda saved me because financial aid was not paying everything. I did have to pay for what they didn’t cover, I paid out of pocket when I had a job but this semester it’s lower since I’m at home. I currently live with my parents and they predominantly pay the bills, but I do pay the gas and light bills, and sometimes other bills. I thankfully paid the max on our gas and it saved us during the pandemic.
Personally, any degree in this day and age is for me, an opportunity to not be held back by society. It’s the place that I got the most opportunity, with great teachers who have seen so much in me, since in high school and in junior high I had to compete so hard against others. So, getting this degree is a really important opportunity. I hope that I’ll be able to graduate on time because of this pandemic.
I am a senior at SUNY New Paltz, majoring in English and Journalism. I decided to go to a state school because it would be cheaper than any other on-campus experience I could have. Despite this, I’m still going to be in debt for quite a long time after I graduate. It’s scary to think about, especially now with having to enter the work world after a catastrophic event like the COVID-19 pandemic. Job opportunities will be scarce and my debt will only grow the longer it doesn’t get paid off.
It is vital that we close the TAP gap, expand the excelsior scholarship, and increase state funding for SUNY/CUNY. The financial burden of tuition costs does not belong on the backs of students. Affordable higher education is essential to the future success and economic wealth of New York State.
I am majoring in Sociology and pursuing a certificate in Public Policy at Hunter College. This is my last semester. I just found out that I got accepted into graduate school in Spain where I will be getting a Masters in Education. I plan on being a teacher for at least the next few years after that. I am also considering going to law school eventually, but that would be many years from now. The reason that I chose this program is because if I work at a school, my tuition fees get waived. I wish I could say the same for my time at Hunter. I am paying for my education at Hunter College with a few different merit scholarships, both private and through my program at Hunter, without which I would not be able to attend school or I would have to make the difficult decision to take out a massive loan. The rest is covered with a combination of mine and my mother’s savings. To be able to be in the position to do this is an immense privilege that I do not take lightly. Because I am from New Jersey I do not qualify for TAP, Pell, or the Excelsior Scholarship. In order to pay for textbooks, food, rent, and a MetroCard I have been working part-time every semester and full time during summer and winter breaks. I wish that I was able to qualify for these types of financial aid because it would take away the stress of a huge financial burden for me and my family. I would have more time to not worry about working and actually have moments for rest and passion projects.
I talk to students all the time, and the biggest barriers to education that I hear every day are always finances – CUNY is an institution built for working-class people, but the rising cost of tuition is making it less and less accessible. Every semester more and more of my friends have to drop out because they can no longer afford the cost of attendance. We need a free and fully funded CUNY so that every student has the opportunity to determine their own destiny, regardless of their financial status. The ability to pursue education is a human right and must be regarded as such. I wish that the state saw CUNY for the potential it has to be an engine of equity for all students, as well as an investment in the future of our economy and society as a whole.
My parents have been generous enough to pay for my tuition thus far—even though they have to pay for two mortgages, their cars plus mine, utility bills, and more. It’s making our already unstable financial situation worse. My mom is going to have to sell her house and move to an apartment in a less expensive city once my brother turns 18.
My parents make “too much” in salary, as high school teachers, for me or my brother to qualify for financial aid from FAFSA or need-based scholarships. In reality, we’re struggling financially.
I have transferred between colleges multiple times, between an out-of-state public college, a SUNY community college, CUNY 4-year school, and finally a SUNY 4-year school. When transferring into CUNY, I had difficulty communicating with an advisor, and they did nothing to help me get into the major I wanted. Then, once I transferred here, the first advisor I spoke to had me take two classes that I ended up not needing with my transfer credits.
If I had taken literature classes for my major instead of those unnecessary classes, I probably wouldn’t be cramming all my major requirements (as well as a gym requirement) into my last two semesters.
I grew up mostly in upstate New York. I went to Lyons High School in Lyons, NY, which is a really small school; my graduating class was about 60 people. My career goal is to become a software developer or programmer—something along those lines—and I am taking computer science classes here at Buffalo State.
I transferred to Buffalo State from Finger Lakes Community College, which was a two-year school, and Buffalo State was one of the less expensive options for four-year colleges.
Last semester was my first semester here in Buffalo. Because my family is recognized as being in need, I get financial aid of like all stripes. I get Pell Grants and would have gotten Perkins if they hadn’t done away with that. I get TAP and Excelsior. Despite all of that—which sounds like a lot, but it’s not—there’s still money that I have to pay out-of-pocket even though my family really can’t afford it.
At Finger Lakes there were three professors that got together and wrote their own book, and that helped with textbook costs there. This semester, most of my textbooks, like three of them were under $20, but one of them was $150. It was one for my information systems class, and there was another I had that was like $90, and it was just to access an online version.
If I could just focus full-time on schoolwork I would do that, but I need money to pay for textbooks and living expenses beyond what’s covered by financial aid, so I am looking for a job.
I’m majoring in political science and minoring in journalism. I’m part of the 1% of students that receive the Excelsior scholarship, so I have to complete 30 credits per year, which makes college more stressful by increasing my workload. I also have to stay in New York four years after my graduation, so I plan to attend graduate school. I also am a recipient of the Pell Grant and the TAP award.
I work on the weekends and have to pay for food, transportation, and books myself because I don’t receive SNAP, and I am not part of any opportunity programs. If I didn’t receive any financial aid, I would probably be in debt. I think that CUNY should be fully funded to help to support the growing student body that overwhelms public colleges because most people find it nearly impossible to attend private colleges.
More aspects of CUNY, such as maintenance of the elevators of CCNY, should also be funded. I would also appreciate a child care center on campus to provide support for students that are also parents.
I’m a freshman at SUNY Cortland studying English
and philosophy with minors in women, gender, and sexuality studies, and in
economics. At this point, I don’t have a definite plan for after
I pay for school with scholarships, financial
aid, and loans. I receive TAP and the Pell Grant, and I also work through the
work-study program as a part of my financial aid. I use my aid to pay for some
of my tuition and textbooks, and I have a meal plan. Like many other students,
if I didn’t receive financial aid I would not be able to attend college.
My biggest challenge as a student has been thinking about the future. The Excelsior scholarship was not clear about how they deduct Pell and TAP grants, so my parents had to take out an extra loan right before the tuition bill was due so I could afford to go here. I’m going to have all this debt to pay off when I leave college, and that’s stressful to think about.
We need fully funded colleges because in this economy you can’t rise up without a college education, and preventing someone from receiving such an education is depriving them of equal opportunity and a chance at the life they want and deserve. I think college should be free for everyone, everywhere. Education should be a right, not a privilege.
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.