Posts Tagged ‘opportunity program’

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.

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.

Mehnaz Sultana, Purchase College

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Luckily, I do not have any student loans as of now but, it does seem like something I might need in the future.  One reason I am actually in college I would say is because the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) exists and the support they provide.  Right now, I’m not taking any loans, but I am struggling. I am a commuter so I have to actually spend two-three hours sometimes commuting depending on when I miss a train or something.

Either I spend more time, or I spend more money.  So, if you’re not in economic debt, then you are in mental debt.   I am totally, I don’t function half of the time. I’m so tired when I come to class, I’m just trying to stay awake. If I didn’t have to commute and if I could live on campus and get up and go to my classes it would be awesome.  I’m pretty sure my grade would not suffer as much as they do right now. It’s hard to balance that time.

Toni Yancey, SUNY Cortland

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As a senior in high school, I did not think college would ever be in my grasp. Most of my family did not go to college so I thought I would not either. I was unsure how I would pay for my higher education.  Thankfully, my high school had a terrific career program that provided the necessary tools to make my college dreams a possibility.  I applied to SUNY Cortland through their Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and was admitted. I am grateful to have come across this program. They helped me prepare for college socially and economically, as well as help me prepare in terms of academics.  I receive financial aid in order to help pay for school, however a majority of the additional costs are placed on my shoulders. Aside for paying for tuition, I front the cost of other expenses such as food, social activities, toiletries, textbooks and other school supplies. The list can go on forever, As an off-campus resident, I must also pay rent. I am taking eighteen credits and also working two jobs to help me with the cost of living.

I am studying sociology and professional writing and planning on attending graduate school. I am an aspiring counselor and believe that the investment for a postgraduate degree will increase my chances of employment, and ultimately allow me to pay off loans more efficiently.

GiGi Nieson, Pratt Institute

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I am a resident of Brooklyn, NY and go to the Pratt Institute of Art and Design. My family is unable to afford higher education by itself. Pratt has one of the highest college tuition rates and although it is a private school its students do get help from special programs such as the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). Without this program, it would be impossible for me and for many other people to afford higher education. Currently I have two part time jobs, which interfere with my schooling.

I am also worried about my future financially when I get out of college. It is hard to focus on schoolwork when finances are an issue, and it is especially hard knowing your parents back home are struggling to secure a future for their child.  Funding for education is funding for the future, and I don’t think any person should have to struggle and worry about their future. I do not want others to worry and struggle like my family does.  If New York does not fund higher education, they are endangering the future for everyone. Education should be given to anyone who has the desire to learn, regardless of their ability to pay.   Please, set an example for the rest of the country and the world by funding higher education.

Chris, SUNY New Paltz

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I mainly pay for college through loans and I have a grant through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). I’ll eventually be struggling to pay back my loans in the future. I always avoid buying textbooks.

I’ve also worked part-time on campus and those jobs haven’t interfered with my studies. I’ve been able to do my homework at those jobs. I wouldn’t be able to go to college without EOP. EOP grants don’t just help you out with money. They help you with actually getting into college, too. It has its own orientation, pretty much. So, they’re the ones that have accepted me, not necessarily the school.



Sapphire Garris, Borough of Manhattan Community College

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Part of my tuition is covered through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the rest of my costs are paid out of pocket. This includes textbooks, transportation and additional online fees to access homework assignments for certain courses. I’m a 25 year old mother of a 1 year old son. Gratefully, I managed to find a job on campus, through the COPE program (now called CUNY EDGE, Educate, Develop, Graduate, and Empower) which also pays for his daycare. This allows me to maintain some financial stability for my growing family.

Just like many other students, I cannot afford to pay for all of these costs. Last semester, before I was enrolled in EDGE, I had trouble registering for classes because I had a hold on my account from the Bursar’s office. The balance was $1,050 and I hadn’t gotten any notification that my financial aid wasn’t covering my full tuition. I was required to pay the entire balance before the first day of class. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place! I had to find a way to be able to pay this full amount in such a short amount of time. Eventually I had to ask my family, who were experiencing their own financial burdens. The stress had become overwhelming and it was very hard to stay focused during finals week! I needed help and there was no one to help me. Luckily, now I have a job through the EDGE program which allows me to pay for my tuition, and all other expenses.