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Posts Tagged ‘financial aid’

Avalann Bargallo, Buffalo State College

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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.

Anny Mariano, Queensborough Community College

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I am a freshman psychology major. I would like to eventually work at a school and work with teenagers or do social work. I receive the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the Pell Grant and I am looking for a job to pay for the bus, food and clothes. I didn’t qualify for ASAP because they said I had too many remedial courses. But I had taken those classes in the summer already. When I went to try again to appeal, the spots in ASAP were already filled up. If I was able to get into ASAP I would get my metrocard covered which would be a huge help. I am the first person in my family to go to college. My family and I are from the Dominican Republic. If I didn’t get financial aid I’d have to take out loans. I am trying to work to save money in case there is a semester that I don’t get enough financial aid.

Eli, SUNY Cortland

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I am a married father with two biological and two foster children. I went to school later in life out of economic necessity. Higher education affordability is very important to me. In 2012 I was denied a much-needed promotion. Simultaneously, my wife became pregnant with our daughter. The reality of the world hit us. My family couldn’t afford to live on my salary any longer, so I decided to leave the workforce to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

After excelling at Onondaga Community College, I transferred to SUNY Cortland where a large portion of my educational expenses were covered by aid. However, despite working upwards of 25 hours a week, I still had to take out loans to cover additional costs associated with getting a degree like transportation, rent, and textbooks. I could not afford to satisfy these costs juggling a full-course load and part-time work.

I will be graduating in May and will be pursuing a doctorate of physical therapy coupled with a master of public health from Adelphi University. My hope is that I can progress into the world of rehabilitation in the hospital setting, working with spinal cord injury patients.

Roman Mendez, Bronx Community College

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I have received help through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the Pell Grant. This federal and state assistance has helped me go to school and not have to worrying about paying for it. After taking a long break and working many jobs, I decided to go back to school. I realize that Pell and TAP don’t last forever. This semester (Spring 2017) has been a struggle because I didn’t receive full financial aid. I was able to save money and got loads of help from my parents. Because of this, I was able to meet the payments needed to pay half my tuition, books, Metrocard, and food.

I do appreciate the people that have to work full time and go to school because I know it is not easy. Paying for school made me realize how important programs are for many students such as SEEK, ASAP, and EOP because they help you get to where you need to go.  If it wasn’t for half the help from Pell, TAP and my parents, I wouldn’t be able to complete this semester.  I do wish free tuition in NY State had more support for part-time and undocumented students. Being a full time student and working full time is really stressful and leaves little to no time to actually study for the classes you are taking.

Santana Alvarado, Bronx Community College

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My first two semesters at Bronx Community College, I didn’t qualify for financial aid, even though my family lives on only my mother’s income and there are five of us at home with two of my siblings away for college. But, then I enrolled in the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), which has been a blessing for me.  The cost of textbooks and a MetroCard is just too much, especially when multiple people are in college at the same time. I remember I was on my way to the financial aid office with the loan application form for Spring 2017 filled out, when I stopped to ask my ASAP advisor a question. I brought up taking out a loan, but she told me that because I qualified for partial Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funding, ASAP would cover the rest. I texted my mom in the office that I had great news. After I spoke to her I felt like I was going to burst out in tears because I was so relieved and blessed, like I had been stopped on my way to making a deal with the devil.

College is a time to be challenged but paying for it shouldn’t be the main stressor. At times, it consumes my thoughts and leaves with me with an anxiety about my education and future, when I want to focus on the hope and excitement of earning a degree. There needs to be a change so that the burden of student debt can be lifted from students. We’re the future, after all.

Alexis Ramos, Borough of Manhattan Community College

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I am majoring in political science and theater, and aim to be a senator or mayor. I believe tuition and other costs to attend CUNY and SUNY schools should be state funded. I started college right after getting my GED. When I started to look into schools, I was worried I couldn’t afford it.  A huge obstacle was figuring out where my 2 year old son would go while I was in school. My mother was too old and sick to take care of him and I didn’t have any other family members around me so I felt stuck. My only option was to look for daycare but the prices were way too expensive. I felt like I would be drowning in debt and costs of tuition and childcare. I enrolled at BMCC since it had a childcare center. I decided to do 5 courses in order to qualify for full financial aid.

Luckily, because of the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), the Pell Grant, and the publicly funded childcare center at BMCC, I was able to afford to attend college. Textbooks and my monthly metrocard were a huge burden for me this year, though.  Luckily I’ve enrolled in Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for next year so those costs will be covered. I have a part time job that covers these costs currently, but between textbooks, metrocards, and paying for diapers and food for my son, I often can’t afford to buy food for myself. I’m determined to get an education, failure is not an option but it’s come at a cost to my health.

Abdullah Huda, Hunter College

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Throughout my college career, I have received financial assistance through the Pell grant and the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). The assistance was a huge help for me because without it, I would not have been able to go to college. My father is the only person who works full time in my family. He barely makes enough money to pay for all the expenses of providing for a five-member family. I attended college full time while working part time to help take some of the burden off his shoulder, and at the same time pay for my own expenses such as books, metrocards, and food. However, work would sometimes get in the way of my studies. There were many times when I had to choose between studying for an important exam and going to work because I needed the money. While the assistance of Pell grant and TAP has been extremely helpful, I still struggle financially.

I realized, although too late, that there were other programs offered in college to help students with their everyday expenses; programs like ASAP and SEEK.  I wasn’t informed about these programs in high school or in my first semester of college. When I learned about them and went to the financial aid office in my second semester of college, I was told it was too late for me to be eligible for the programs. If I had the assistance that educational opportunity programs provide, I could focus more on my studies and less on working to pay for expenses. This would have made a huge difference in my academic life.

Royland Robinson, Nassau Community College

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I pay for some of my education through financial aid.  Books and transportation, I have to pay for out of pocket, because the amount of money that I get from FASFA is not really enough.  I take the bus most of the time and sometimes ask for rides from family members if I can. The price of books has definitely increased over the past few years. And that’s been kind of hectic. Especially for someone like me who has arthritis. I have been living with arthritis since I was 6 years old and the medication costs $2,000 a month.  

Being able to graduate from high school was a big achievement for me. And now that I was able to do that, I’m not going to let anything stop me. I just want to keep moving forward and be as successful as possible so I can pursue my career goals in the future.

Marie Ceant, Brooklyn College

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As a member of SEEK (Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge, a CUNY Educational Opportunity program), I have received full financial aid since the beginning of my college career. I live with a widowed mother who has always worked extremely hard to get me to where I am today.  Without the SEEK program I would not have been blessed with this opportunity to be a college student. SEEK has provided me with coverage for my tuition, textbooks, and even an extra semester if needed.

The only reason I’ve been able to get by is because of all the extra support SEEK has provided me with, in not just the things listed above but also academic support e.g. tutoring when needed and even an opportunity to get a head start on my college career with summer classes before my first year. All of these reasons are why I find it extremely unfortunate that SEEK and many other programs like it have  been threatened with budget cuts in the past couple of years. I believe this is extremely unfair because it will create disadvantage to students like me who rely so heavily on SEEK and all that it has to offer. Many successful people, such as engineers, teachers, medical students etc. were blessed with the same opportunity I was given and rose to the occasion, which is why it is extremely important that more funding goes into programs like these.

Chanelle Alvarez, College of Staten Island

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I would like to address the problems that I’ve faced so far as a student and how they would further worsen if tuition was raised. First, I pay out of pocket for part of my tuition. The only financial aid I get is from the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).  My problem is that the state doesn’t take into account that my mom has debt, like most Americans. Whether it’s from child support, paying for higher education for herself, or a credit card there should be a realization that not many Americans are without debt. This effects one’s ability to pay for school.

The government does not account for the debt my family has to pay off when deciding on how much financial aid I receive making it hard for my family to pay.