Posts Tagged ‘financial aid’

Andy Huang, Hunter College

I am a senior studying chemistry at Hunter College. I chose to attend a CUNY because it was much more affordable than a SUNY or private college. I live with my parents as dorming would be too expensive. I am lucky to receive the Pell Grant and TAP, both of which help cover my tuition fees. I also receive a scholarship per semester that helps fund my transportation, school materials, and food. While I rely on financial aid, I have come close to losing it during several semesters. This semester specifically, I was stressed about financial aid because I lost TAP. I couldn’t receive it because I was not taking enough eligible credits (the classes I needed to take were locked to the spring semester). I hope to see TAP’s eligibility expand in the future so that it accepts all the classes that students take. Attending college and getting a degree should not be blocked by tuition fees. Students need to be able to focus more on studying instead of stressing about working part-time/full-time to attend their classes.

Milen Paulose, Purchase College

I am a junior at SUNY Purchase studying Literature. I hope to go to law school afterwards. My family feels pretty unstable financially, and college is both a hope and a hurdle. I moved back to New York from Texas in 2021 and I am having trouble with my residency and it is affecting my financial aid; I feel the system is too difficult to navigate by myself. Although my parents support me by helping me commute to my university and paying for my education after aid, it is becoming difficult. I have a part-time job on campus but I am looking for another job on campus. SUNY Purchase is a fantastic university and while it was one of my top schools, one of the major reasons it ranked so high was because I could commute there. With the financial aid packages, on-campus housing was simply not an option for me. I wish there were more virtual options for classes since I have to commute from pretty far and more options for classes, since few classes for my degree are actually offered in a semester. A lot of the offered classes also overlap in their timing, so I can only pick one among many classes I would have liked to take and would help fulfill my degree requirements. I have come to love many things about college here. 

Sylvie Ledain, NYC College of Technology

I began at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in the early 2000s, and applied for FAFSA and Pell. Unfortunately at the time, I did not know what career path I wanted to choose and advisement was not really very helpful with mapping a future goal. It took me almost four years to complete my Associates Degree in Liberal Arts. Unknown to me at the time, the Pell grant offers “no more than 12 terms or the equivalent.” After graduating from BMCC, I began my first legal job at a personal injuries firm. I took a very long time before attending college again, but when I finally did I applied to City Tech with the intention to learn more about the field I was working in. I have been at City Tech since spring 2021 and was recently informed that I am no longer eligible for any Federal financial aid due to my maximum limit being reached. This semester alone has been especially hard due to my brother’s sudden passing and the expenses tied to it, along with being a single mom to a 13 year old boy and having a full time job to pay for living expenses. Paying tuition seems like an unreasonable situation for me. As a current student on the Dean’s List with only one more semester before graduation, it’s disappointing to know that I may not be able to “afford” to finish my degree.

Brenda Ojeda, Queens College

I am a freshman who majors in Political Science. I hope to learn more about my community and help future generations with the knowledge I acquire. I hope to attend graduate school in order to become a lawyer. I have always admired lawyers. This interest was sparked through the attendance of environmental rallies and engagement in my AP Government courses. I am able to pay my tuition through Federal Pell Grants. However, Federal Aid doesn’t cover all of my tuition expenses so I receive financial assistance through my father. Concerning the Federal Pell Grant process, it is not declared how much aid a student may initially receive. Therefore, the school selection process is deemed a bit challenging in terms of out-of-pocket pay expectancy. Aside from Federal Pell, I recommend that New York State Tuition Assistance Program aides in clarifying the application process so students could complete the application process more efficiently. I’m a first-generation college student, in result I experience the pressure to do well throughout my academic career. I live off-campus, so at times it can be confusing to virtually navigate my tuition and billing information through CUNY. I find the physical upkeep of the campus to be up to part and accessibility to classes/advisement to be convenient. However, I have received professors that experience confusion due to having to hold various amounts of classes during a semester because they are under-paid and need to teach so many classes to provide for themselves.

Matthew Aherns, NYC College of Technology

I am a Sophomore at NYC College of Technology majoring in Computer Information Systems (Bachelor program). I hope to get a job as a programmer. I decided to pursue this field because when I was 10 years old, I stumbled upon the coding in a game where I messed around with different values and saw how the game reacted and changed. I have been running into issues with my financial aid. My TAP award does not cover my full tuition and if I don’t pay by a certain date, I get a hold put on my account which holds me back from registering for classes. The TAP verification process takes too long, at two to three weeks. Finding academic advisement to decide which classes to take has also been a struggle as it has been very complex and not easy to navigate. In addition, I don’t really spend much time on campus because some of the rooms don’t have working heat.

Sajina Shrestha, City College of NY

Sajina is a senior at the City College of New York, majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Journalism. After graduating, she hopes to be a journalist in New York. Sajina receives both TAP and Pell but the award amount has been decreasing every year while the tuition is also increasing. Although her financial aid pays for most of her tuition, she has to rely on her Fellowship awards and pay out of pocket for the rest of the tuition. What makes it even harder to pay or save up for tuition is that her FAFSA never has a clear number of how much she’ll be expected to pay. Inconsistency with FAFSA is a common occurrence among college students and it can be very frustrating to deal with when you don’t know how much to save up. Although her parents also help her pay her tuition, it is becoming difficult for them to pay the increasing cost every year. With increasing tuition costs and decreased award sizes causing financial strains, Sajina has to work while attending classes to stay afloat. With more CUNY funding, Sajina hopes that tuition costs will be lowered and award sizes will be increased.

Iftakar Bakhsh, Borough Manhattan Community College

My name is Iftakar Bakhsh. I am majoring in Business Management. I am planning to go to a four-year college to achieve my Bachelor’s degree. I live with my parents, so they pay for my college expenses. I used to get financial aid but now I don’t get full cover for tuition and other expenses like textbooks, transportation, food and shelter due to my parents’ income. My parents pay out of their pocket which is hard for them because they have a hard time to have enough money. So, they sometimes have to borrow from our family members and pay them back later which puts my parents in debt. Both of my parents have to work in order to pay for my tuition, other college expenses, rent, and food.  I wish that they can make colleges free for everyone. This can help my parents, so they don’t feel stressed about paying for my college expenses.

Melissa Hernandez, SUNY Cortland

My name is Melissa Hernandez and I attend SUNY Cortland full time. I am a senior and have been here since freshman year. I am from Long Island, and my Senate District is 3 and my Assembly District is 16. When I was applying to college my first choice was University of Tampa but unfortunately I did not get enough financial aid to afford it and began to look at SUNY and CUNY schools. Out of all the SUNY and CUNY schools I applied to, I felt that SUNY Cortland was the best fit for me. I had toured many schools previously and although I toured Tampa and fell in love, SUNY Cortland also gave me the same feeling I felt when I toured Tampa. I knew a few people who had gone to Cortland and heard all their great memories which made me feel more comfortable and excited to come. I am majoring in political science and I do really enjoy this major. I am taking a year off before applying to graduate school to focus on myself and future opportunities.

I pay my tuition through the help of my parents and financial aid.  I am fortunate enough that my tuition has been paid through financial aid. I work almost everyday over the summer to help pay sometimes my rent at school and other personal spending I might have. I am the first child in my family to go to college and understood that my parents would not be able to pay full tuition without getting some financial help, however, before I began my college career I always had the impression that going to a SUNY or CUNY school would be considered to be less than nothing in terms of tuition. I think that since tuition has risen over the decade it is very unfortunate for many, myself included. It is not fair that society places this idea that college is a stepping stone for an individual to get a good job and make it in today’s world. Not only is tuition an expense at college but textbooks are another cost for students. Textbooks depending on the class vary but still add up and can be very expensive. Textbooks should not be an extra expense for students. 

The pandemic was a hard time for my family because my mom is diabetic which meant she was at a high risk, which then made it difficult for my dad to continue to work. My mom is a nanny and my dad has a painting service. My dad is an independent company which already makes it hard enough, and then when the pandemic hit it made it harder for him. During this time, I had recovered from unemployment and later began working again in July which allowed me to save enough money to pay my rent junior year without the help of my parents because of how tight money was. 

I personally always wanted to go to college because of the promise that going to college means I would have a good job. I want to finish my degree to have a comfortable life and be able to support myself. I think that although school does cost a lot I would still be at school, however, I would have prepared myself financially before I attended. 

Lorna Duran, Hunter College

My name is Lorna Duran and I am a Junior at Hunter. I don’t receive any financial aid, so my tuition is covered by my parents who pay out of pocket. I have consistently applied for federal tuition help, but I never meet the requirements. My father, a teacher, makes slightly more than NYS Taxable Income Limit and because of this, I have never been eligible for TAP. The reality is that I am part of a single-income family in one of the most expensive cities around the world, I cannot truly afford tuition. On top of the thousands of dollars spent on tuition, every semester I spend about $500-$800 on expensive textbooks and access codes. Additionally, I also have to pay for my commuting expenses which come out to a couple of hundred dollars a year. 

Every semester when I get that email that tuition is due, I stress out because I know my parents will have to find that money one way or another. If my family has an emergency towards the end of the semester, my father has to carefully consider how he will pay my $3,465 dollar tuition. I wish that there were more funding opportunities for students like me. I shouldn’t have to worry about paying for tuition, and how I will afford my textbooks.

Samuel Davenport III, Nassau Community College

I am a first year student at Nassau Community College. Currently, I am studying Liberal Arts, but my goal is to switch to IT. I am paying for school both with unsubsidized loans and out of pocket. However, I am an out-of-state student, so the tuition is double for me. My mom and I are splitting the remaining balance after loans half and half. At first, she was paying it all, but then I got a job and offered to help out.

Paying for school is far more expensive than I thought, and it’s a challenge working and going to school at the same time. Pretty much all the money I’m making is being dedicated to school. That’s why I try to make sure I’m doing well in school; because the money that my mother and I are spending would go to waste if I don’t.

I am a full time student and work almost full time – about 30 hours a week. It takes a lot of discipline and focus to make sure I can still do well in school while balancing all the hours at work. When I first started working, I thought I would only be working 20 hours a week, but I needed to increase my hours to help pay for school. If I had the option, I would only work 20 hours, so that I could spend my time doing readings for class and getting a really good handle on the material. Balancing school, work, sleep, and personal time is definitely not easy, but with a lot of dedication and determination, it’s manageable.

Being at a commuter school in a suburban area makes transportation hard too. Depending on the day of the week, I either borrow my cousin’s car, someone drops me off at school, or I get an Uber. However, I uber more than anything else. I usually spend about $60 a week on Ubers, but the real money issue is tuition.