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Posts Tagged ‘Excelsior’

Michael D’Amato, Brooklyn College

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I am the first in my family to go to college, thanks to the help of a partial TAP award, the Pell Grant the SEEK program and now the Excelsior Scholarship. I am a transfer student, attending Brooklyn College to obtain my Bachelors of Science in Psychology. My father had also lost his job two years ago, so my financial aid situation has fluctuated each year based on how much he makes.

Overall, I am  able to go to school and be the first in my family to graduate college, so I am very thankful that the scholarship has helped with that. The idea of living in New York after graduation is not a problem. The idea of taking 30 credits by the end of the year, however, is.

12 credits a semester is already a lot. I am currently only taking 12 credits this semester, through the SEEK program, which I have been a part of since attending Kingsborough Community College. 

 Without the Scholarship or any financial aid, I would have paid out of pocket since my family is against the idea of taking out loans. The most stressful cost for me right now is my metro card.

 

Ramona Shoy-Parker, Brooklyn College

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I am a freshman at Brooklyn College studying Communication Television and Radio.  Without the Excelsior Scholarship, I would have needed to take out a loan.  Luckily, I found out about the scholarship through Forest Hills High School. They pushed me to fill out FAFSA early. They had an assembly about the scholarship and sent emails with a link to apply.  I don’t plan to stay in Brooklyn College.  My mom just moved to Florida and I will be transferring to a school down there.  I am aware that the scholarship will turn into a loan however, I am still grateful because the scholarship gave my mother time to save up before she can start paying out of pocket.

Currently, balancing work and school is a lot.   I am taking 15 credits while working 40 hours a week to pay for additional costs such as textbooks, food and transportation. My mom helps me out with the costs but balancing it is a lot, especially straight out of high school. If I had the option to take fewer classes I would. I believe the scholarship would be better if students were able to take a mandatory 12 credits because 15 is a lot of pressure, especially since the scholarship doesn’t cover Winter or Summer semesters.

Eric Ransom, College of Staten Island

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I was initially rejected from the Excelsior Scholarship. I was looking forward to having my last year of college paid for. When I did some research into why I was rejected, I realized it had to do with the amount of credits I had. As an Excelsior applicant, I needed to have 90 credits going into my senior year but only had 89. I realized that my college level courses in high school had not been transferred to CSI. I had taken credits through College Now at Kingsborough Community College when I was in high school that had not automatically been applied to my transcript.

Once I contacted my high school, I was able to access the credits, appeal and qualify for the scholarship. I had taken out loans for the first three years, gotten some TAP and some merit scholarships. Excelsior came at the right time, I figured if I could get it for my last year that would be great so it was worth appealing! For the rest of the costs I have a small savings from my grandfather and I work 20 hours a week. This pays for books, food and metrocards.

Textbooks are definitely the most stressful cost. I pay around $200 a semester. I don’t know a lot of people who applied for Excelsior, maybe only one other person. I found out because I saw the commercial on TV and the news stories. My parents also saw it and urged me to apply. I think that the 15 credit requirement is fair as long as students know about it beforehand. As far as the four year requirement, I think it would be unfortunate if they got a job outside of the state, but for majority of students I think it’s fair. For me that would be the least fair part of the scholarship.

Nicole Vasquez, Hunter College

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As a dual enrollment student taking high school classes and college classes at the same time, I felt prepared for college, but not for the debt that would come with it. I am a full time junior who works part time and tries to chip in for tuition as I see my parents struggle to make ends meet.
I applied to the Excelsior Scholarship looking for some financial relief and was denied because I only completed 24 credits my first two semesters instead of 30 at Hunter College.  This was because I had already accumulated college credit in high school, so it wasn’t necessary to overload my schedule.  New York should have affordable education for everyone so that students can focus on school and being able to buy health meals, instead of having to juggle work, travel expenses and school.

Stephanie Almodovar, City College of NY

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My name is Stephanie Almodovar and I am a freshman at CUNY City College. I am currently looking to go into Civil Engineering. Right now, I work as a group leader at a local YMCA and this job allows me to save a little for school. Unfortunately, I do not receive Pell Grants and I do not qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship because my mother’s income is just above the cut off level. Often times I struggle with paying tuition and buying the necessary textbooks for school.

I do not qualify for work-study so most weeks I have to choose between saving money towards school or buying lunch. I usually only eat lunch 2-3 times a week but sometimes that’s too much because buying snacks will deplete my savings and I would not be able to eat for the rest of that week. Thankfully, with the help of outside scholarships, I am now able to pay tuition without worry. However, at any time, that could change. I try my hardest to not let these troubles overcome my college experience but sometimes it all becomes too much. In all honesty, I dream of tuition-free CUNY so that one day I will no longer have to worry about paying for school and just enjoy learning.