Posts Tagged ‘Pell Grant’

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.

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.

Sharon Huang, Queens College

I’m a junior who majors in Psychology and intends to pursue a career as a therapist. These goals are motivated by my personality traits as an individual and my intent for others to feel heard. I afford my tuition through Federal Pell Grants and New York State Tuition Assistance Program. I am satisfied with the financial aid process and so is my family considering I’m a first generation college student. Difficulties I find within the financial aid system is the substantial pressure to maintain my grades in order to not have my awarded aid decreased. I live off-campus with my family and haven’t run into any issues with professors of class accessibility as yet. I am granted reasonable advice from my advisors and guidance throughout my process. The physical upkeep of my campus is well-preferred over virtual classes which bore me to sleep at times.

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.

janata Harrison, Hunter College

I am a Sophomore at Hunter College. I am a political science major and I hope to become a lawyer when I graduate. I was inspired to pursue this major when I met a lawyer during career day in middle school who had studied the same thing. She seemed very educated and passionate and I knew I wanted to follow in the same footsteps. I have received TAP and I think the recent improvements were very helpful. Part time TAP now receives more funding and students can feel less pressure when making decisions on whether to go to school or to go college. Thankfully, I have not had any big challenges paying for colleges. Upon finding out there was a portion of my tuition that was not covered this semester, I promptly filled some forms with the VA and their military assisted programs to cover the balance. Between the military program, TAP, Pell and Excelsior all of my tuition and other expenses have been covered thankfully and I have not had to take out loans. The only issues I have faced with finding professors is with certain prerequisites only being offered in the fall. This was a little confusing because then I had to plan in advance of what classes I think I could take each semester to graduate on time. 

My experience, especially as a freshman, was not great. I was told a lot of false information about having to take the classes chosen for you when you first enter and about not being able to drop them. I had an advisor who did not really assist me but instead told me to use DegreeWorks. I emailed her with questions and till this day never received a response. Now that I am a sophomore, I think I am more accustomed to the system and therefore need less advising. DegreeWorks and I are now best friends and when I have any large questions, I can ask a professor in the department I am wondering about. Professors and general advisors have been more helpful than the advisor I was assigned.

Sammie Maitland, Hunter College

Azania “Sammie” Maitland is a Junior at Hunter College who majors in Political Science and Minors in Legal Studies. After completing her undergraduate studies she will enter graduate school to study Public Policy. Upon completing her education she intends to begin a career in public service because she wants to help make the world a better place. She pays for school with a mix of TAP, Pell grants, and loans. She takes a part-time course load to balance focusing on her studies and community advocacy – which means she receives less aid and has to take out more loans to make up the difference. She has some concerns about paying back loans once she fully completes her education, but hopes that tax credits or that other avenues for student debt relief will be made available in New York State.

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.

Atlas Thomas, Pratt Institute

Atlas Thomas is a senior, sculpture integrated practices major at Pratt Institute. Going to college in the midst of a global pandemic forced Atlas to rethink the way he approached his educational finances. Though with the help of financial aid Atlas was able to get this far in his educational journey. 

“I got really into ceramics when I was in high school. I was doing okay with it then we got to wheel throwing, and I sucked. I just couldn’t do it. Everything I made would be terrible. I said to myself this is inexcusable, I can’t be bad at this. I continued to work at it, and I got a job at a pottery studio. As the years went on I just fell in love with pottery and fell in love with sculpting. It wasn’t like one moment, it was like a slow build up. I have a Parent Plus loan. I think I have the Pell Grant, the Presidential Scholarship, and I work – I work two on campus jobs – one in the Fine Arts wood shop, and another in the ceramics studio. We (my parents and I) have been getting loans since my freshman year. If we hadn’t been getting loans it would have been a lot more difficult, mainly because it’s just so expensive to live here. 

For the last two years I’ve lived off campus, and paying rent is difficult, because it’s just so expensive to live here. I live in an apartment a couple blocks from campus, and I have roommates. A good majority of my expenses are covered through financial aid. I budgeted a little bit less than I needed on purpose, because I didn’t wanna have too many loans to pay after I graduated. I made it to where loans will pay for so much and I would need to work to cover the rest. I had a plan, because I didn’t wanna be in debt for the rest of my life. I probably am – but like less debt now, by a couple thousand. I’m a little bit worried about how I’m going to pay back my loans, only because I don’t have a guaranteed job after graduation. I’m looking for paid internships, and a job, because after graduation I won’t have these on-campus jobs, which covers my expenses. I am lucky enough  that my parents are helping me out a little bit. Last year I was trying to do it all on my own; it wasn’t sustainable, so my parents agreed to help me out. I work 18 hours a week on top of six classes, because I’m a full time student. So I’m a full time student with 2 full time jobs and that cover most of my expenses. 

It’s difficult to pay for it all (tuition, rent, etc) – the apartment I live in wasn’t my first choice, so I ended up paying a couple hundred dollars more than I had budgeted for. It’s still less than I was paying last year. I only took out the bare minimum, I’m just trying to be frugal with it. My junior year I got loans to cover a little bit of my living expenses. Covid messed up whatever numbers I had. It ended up not being what the school was going to charge me. The school tends to charge people more than they say they will, so I had to deal with that. I was working 2 jobs on campus last year about 19 – 20 hours a week. So that covered most of it. I had to dip into my savings, but for the most part all of last year everything was on me. My parents helped me with groceries, but I have three siblings that my parents also support, and I didn’t want to be a burden. It’s exhausting to go through school and deal with those feelings. My mom always talks about how she paid her way through college and med school, so there’s this mentality that you have to work – you have to put in the hours – you just gotta work. I’ve been working since I was like 6 years old basically. I’ve been expected to work for a good majority of my life, so working my way through college was just like a given.” 

Abram Morris, City College of NY

Abram is a junior at the City College of New York pursuing a degree in Architecture. After he graduates, he wants to work on municipal buildings and urban planning. Although Abram receives TAP and Pell, it is not enough to cover his entire tuition. He mostly relies on his Macaulay honors awards and his grandmother to pay his remaining tuition. His scholarship money only covers 70% of his tuition and the rest is paid out of pocket. Although paying off his tuition is not a big challenge, he hopes that with more CUNY funding, he can get the resources to pay for his housing expenses.

Nathan Lloyd, Queensborough Community College

Currently, I am in my last semester at Queensborough Community College where I am working on an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice. After I graduate from QCC my plan is to move on to a 4 year degree at John Jay. I am also a full-time student so I have to take 13-14 credits each semester. I am an ASAP student, which pays for a multitude of expenses like my Metro card, Textbooks, and part of my tuition. The rest of tuition gets covered by FAFSA and TAP. I don’t work and I wanted to when I applied for federal work study but I was denied because I already “met” financial needs. I pay for my food out of pocket or I would take food from home.

If I didn’t receive financial aid I probably wouldn’t have the chance to gain a place in the professional workforce or acquire new skills needed for my personal and professional development. I am very concerned about graduating on time because that is my time that I am dedicating to earning this degree and I want it to be maximized and put to good use with no impediments.

It still amazes me that CUNY used to be a free institution but now we have to pay for our future and our success. We have to constantly be worried about certain programs being cut like ASAP or SEEK. I come from a single parent household where my mother has to hold down two jobs just to support my family. Education has been a big staple in my household as well because not a lot of people get to go to college or take advantage of the opportunities given. This is why we need a fully funded CUNY because students like me. It would be very beneficial to raise efforts in doubling the Pell grants because that would allow for more students of color like myself to be able to enroll in college and diversify admissions as well as the workforce. We wouldn’t be discouraged to take a stand.