Posts Tagged ‘food insecurity’

Sonia Nabi, SUNY New Paltz

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I’m currently a first semester senior and I’ll be hopefully graduating in December 2019. It’s been a really stressful few months. I switched my major junior year and I’ve been playing catch up ever since. I’m not too sure what I want to do after I graduate college, I’m more focused on actually graduating since I’m already graduating late. I think I’m going to get a job and take a year off to pay some of my loans.

I recently moved off campus last semester because I realized that it would be cheaper for me. I don’t live too far from campus so the commute isn’t that bad. I’m really grateful that my parents help me pay for some of my textbooks, because I currently don’t have a job because I’m so overwhelmed with the credits I’m taking. When my parents don’t  have money to send me for food, I go to the food pantry on campus, one of my housemates told me about it.

I think about how fortunate I am because of all the financial aid assistance I receive and having  the support of my parents these are the things that really keep me going. I am a TAP and Pell grant recipient and can’t imagine how I would pay for college without that aid, both of my parents are immigrants from Guyana and I just want to make them proud by earning this degree.

Suraiya Priyanka, Hunter College

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I am a second semester freshman at Hunter College and currently undeclared because I’m narrowing down which major interests me most. I am trying to graduate college as soon as possible, which means I have to take 15 credits per semester, but that is very difficult when you also have to work and support your parents. I receive financial aid from TAP and Excelsior, but that only covers my tuition and Excelsior only gives me a few hundred dollars. I considered applying for ASAP since it would’ve been very helpful to me, but it is not offered at my college. I have to pay for my other expenses including textbooks, food, and transportation.

In my four people household, my dad is the only one that works full time and I work a part time job two days a week. If I decided to prioritize earning money and worked a couple extra days, I wouldn’t be able to focus on school and graduate on time. I already struggle to pay for food, textbooks, and transportation so if I didn’t receive aid to cover my tuition, I would not be able to go to college at all. In high school, I didn’t have to worry about all these things and all of a sudden, with all of this pressure being put on me, I constantly find myself trying to balance school and work and am left with no time to relax. Taking 5 classes every semester and also working is too much to handle and as a result, I am concerned that I won’t be able to do well in school or graduate on time.

We need a fully funded CUNY because many students depend on it. New York City is filled with low-income students and families who choose CUNY because it is advertised as a more affordable option, when in reality it is not. So far, my biggest challenge with being a CUNY student has been financial aid. If all my college expenses were paid for and covered by the government, I would be able to focus a lot more on my education and not have to stress about my finances. CUNY needs to be free again because New Yorkers need free public college now more than ever before.

Stephanie Moy, Hunter College

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My name is Stephanie Moy and I go to Hunter College, double majoring in Environmental Studies and Urban Studies, and minoring in Asian American Studies. I would like to preface this by clarifying that although my story will sound oddly similar to other students’ experiences with college, it is not a testament of how poorly we manage our time, but rather it is a multitude of personal and systematic circumstances that make us have to work that much harder to leave college successfully with degrees.

Tuition hikes have been going up every year, yet the quality of education is remaining stagnant. Having been at Hunter for nearly four years, I have seen a decrease in diversity and availability of course offerings throughout the semesters, making it harder to finish elective requirements for my majors. In addition to that, I have lost all my financial aid in the last two years of college, even though FAFSA has been asking for the same tax forms with the same necessary information.

To go from having my financial aid covering the entirety of my tuition to having absolutely no funding, it has been an extreme financial burden. As a full time student with an internship and volunteer extracurricular activities, working a part time job in order to fund my education is another stressor making it all the more difficult to have a successful higher education career. Because of the limited course selections, it makes it more difficult to rearrange my class schedules to allow availability for a part time job.

For my first three years of college, I was working not only as a server three to four days a week, but also as an usher. After attending classes and doing all my extracurriculars in the morning and afternoon, I would have to rush to work, work another seven to eight hours, suffer through immense nightly train delays, and get home at 2 or 3am, only to study and do more schoolwork.

Losing my financial aid and having to pay the ever increasing cost of tuition has compromised not only my educational success in college, but also my mental and physical health. For years, I was only getting two the three hours of sleep maximum, if any at all. In addition to that, there were days I did not have time to meal prep and bring lunch from home, leaving me no choice, but to either buy lunch at school or skip out on meals because I simply could not afford it.

This is why CUNY schools need more funding for more opportunities to expand financial aid programs.

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.