Posts Tagged ‘food insecurity’

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.

Sophie Deverell, Borough of Manhattan Community College

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I pay for my tuition entirely out of pocket with no financial support from my family. I was forced to drop out of my four year public college because my family fell on hard financial times and TAP didn’t cover enough of my outstanding tuition costs. I worked for four years in order to afford to send myself back to school.

Even now, I am constantly at risk of having to leave school again because of financial reasons. I’ve had to choose between buying textbooks and buying groceries, and I’ve frequently gone hungry in order to make timely payments towards my education. Because of my independent status and other factors, I don’t qualify for any financial aid, state or federal. I will be transferring to a four year public college next semester, but without financial assistance from the state, my future at that school is uncertain.



Shahadah Williams, Buffalo State College

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I went off to college immediately after high-school and I did not have any idea of what I was getting myself into financially. In the first weeks of my first semester I found out that I had to take out loans because I didn’t have enough with my scholarship money, Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award, and Pell Grant. I also needed money to pay for my books. A worker in the financial aid office told me I had to take out loans in order to pay my bill. I had already moved away from home, settled into the dorms and attended a few classes before I even found out that I didn’t have enough to pay for it. I kind of felt like it was a trap.

And I still had other expenses to pay. I spend most of my extra money on food because the on campus meal plan (financial aid covers this food option) doesn’t have healthy options. There are hardly any vegetarian options and since I’m a vegetarian I am always forced to find food at outside food stores. In order to pay for this, I work every school break there is, summer break, winter break, and even spring break. For me, finding affordable, healthy food adds more stress and anxiety than having to take a mid-term or a final exam.

My undergraduate days are coming to an end and I’m filled with anxiety because I’m already $30,000 in debt. It is estimated that I could pay that off in 10 years, meanwhile, it only took 4 years to obtain. I don’t think getting accepted into graduate school would be a problem because my grades are really good. However, paying for the GRE test, application fees and the cost to attend has lead me to pause. The price of one application fee is enough to buy food for 2 weeks and the cost of the GRE exam is enough to buy me food for an entire month! Sometimes I feel that eventually I will have to sacrifice my nutritional health in order to afford an education.