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.
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.
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.