Leslie Spinosa is a first-year student at Pratt Institute. Although apprehensive about the remote learning option offered to her after committing to Pratt, Leslie felt somewhat obligated to accept the offer in fear of losing her presidential merit scholarship or loans in the future. Leslie was accepted into Pratt in Spring of 2020, right before COVID-19 had kicked into high gear. Given her family’s financial security at the time, she felt confident in committing to the institute with reliance on her presidential merit scholarship, student loans, and federal work study allotment. However, that security was compromised in the wake of COVID-19, as her father was out of work as a car dealer for months. Mr. Spinosa applied for a pell grant to provide his family some relief, however it never followed through. Now, he is back at his job, however business is slow and school has become harder to pay for as a result. Leslie has taken on a job of her own to help out, however, with the especially chaotic schedule of online school, she has not been able to take on enough work hours to generate a significant income. Not being able to work on campus to acquire her federal work study money has been a major loss. Additionally, Leslie’s family income was higher at the time of applying for the FAFSA, resulting in a lower grant which, in light of her current financial situation, has left her to rely heavily on loans. Further, Leslie has dealt with her fair share of basic struggles with the new remote learning system. She often finds it difficult to count on consistent communication with her professors, and has had a particularly hard time getting her questions answered by her financial aid advisor, leaving her in the dark about where she stands with the school. Despite all of this, Leslie has worked exceptionally hard to make it through the semester thus far, and will continue to push forward through these trying circumstances. Leslie sees the great value and necessity in acquiring her college degree, and hopes Pratt will provide her with the technical skills and connections to launch her post-graduate career.
Posts Tagged ‘Pell Grant’
Leslie Spinosa, Pratt Institute
Mohima Bahar, Brooklyn College
I am a dual major in Children and Youth Studies and Political Science. I hope to be an advocate and fight for matters that are important to me. I have decided to pursue Children and Youth Studies because there are many children in Bangladesh, my native country that continue to suffer with little to no voice. I am fortunate enough to come to the United States and pursue education. But many children around the world are not as lucky. I hope to make a change in how children are viewed and treated in society. Thus, I decided to major in Political Science also, because in order to make a change I need to have the power to influence or be part of policymaking such as through activism.
I receive Pell, TAP, and I also work to put myself through school. The financial aid awards covered my higher education costs like tuition, textbooks. But it definitely does not cover my food, rent, and other living expenses. I work to cover my living expenses such as food and transportation. I have one job and I work 20 hours a week. It is hard to pay for commuting while paying tuition so I have to work. I would like to see the state support students with the other costs associated with college that people often forget about.
Hifza Hameed, Brooklyn College
I am a freshman at Brooklyn College. I’m currently undecided. But I hope to major in something that will guarantee a job as soon as possible, so I’ll probably major in something STEM-related. I always knew I had to study and get a higher education so I could be financially independent, move out, and live my life on my own terms.
I currently receive a Pell Grant and TAP. I am the first woman in my family to go to college. I hate the anxiety of filling out my FAFSA when I don’t know how much money I’ll receive. I don’t know why I received less money this year too. The financial aid I receive covers my tuition, textbooks and lab fees. But it does not cover rent, food, and living expenses. I don’t have a job right now but I am looking for one so that I can cover the added expenses of college that people don’t normally consider. I’d never be able to pay rent and pay tuition at the same time. That’s why I still live with my family. TAP should be expanded so that students can better focus on their studies and worry less about the added expenses of education.
Victoria Azor, Brooklyn College
I am a senior at Brooklyn College. I am a Political Science major. I plan on going to Law school after obtaining my bachelor’s degree to be a criminal defense attorney. When there, I want to create my own version of the innocence project. Khalif Browder’s story definitely helped me in deciding what I really wanted to do. The fact that someone who was innocent could spend 2 years in prison for allegedly stealing a backpack was beyond me. The psychological and physical abuse that he endured within the two years was inhumane. I think that he is a prime example of how the criminal justice system fails us all the time.
I currently receive both TAP and Pell to pursue my studies. I’m having trouble graduating on time because I cannot afford summer classes. I wish that TAP would cover summer sessions so that I wouldn’t fall behind.
Kiara Lo Coco, Borough of Manhattan Community College
I’m a first-year student majoring in criminal justice. After obtaining my bachelors I want to go to law school and become a criminal lawyer or a human rights lawyer. I receive TAP and a Pell Grant along with financial aid. My tuition is covered.
Unfortunately I do not have my own advisor. I have an opportunity to join the BLA program at my college but I fear that if I join BLA I will not be able to get any help from other programs such as ASAP. College textbooks, lunch, and transportation are expenses outside of tuition. I was looking for a job but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been made difficult to find a job and register for the upcoming semesters’ classes. My family and I are immigrants from Italy. Nobody in my family is working right now because of the pandemic. If I don’t get a STEM waiver, I will not be able to afford summer or winter courses. I am fortunate that I am able to attend college and receive an education that I can be proud of.
Personally I’m a very determined student. Being an immigrant pushes me to achieve unimaginable things such as getting a high school diploma in one year and doing 4 years’ worth of high school material by going to Saturday classes and waking up very early. I make sure that I am still on track even now because I’m that determined. We need a fully-funded CUNY because we are very motivated and dedicated students. If CUNY were to be fully funded, we would have better infrastructure that would allow us to get to class on time, instead of taking detours, and the staff we need to succeed.
Sarah Russo, Hunter College
I am majoring in Sociology and pursuing a certificate in Public Policy at Hunter College. This is my last semester. I just found out that I got accepted into graduate school in Spain where I will be getting a Masters in Education. I plan on being a teacher for at least the next few years after that. I am also considering going to law school eventually, but that would be many years from now. The reason that I chose this program is because if I work at a school, my tuition fees get waived. I wish I could say the same for my time at Hunter. I am paying for my education at Hunter College with a few different merit scholarships, both private and through my program at Hunter, without which I would not be able to attend school or I would have to make the difficult decision to take out a massive loan. The rest is covered with a combination of mine and my mother’s savings. To be able to be in the position to do this is an immense privilege that I do not take lightly. Because I am from New Jersey I do not qualify for TAP, Pell, or the Excelsior Scholarship. In order to pay for textbooks, food, rent, and a MetroCard I have been working part-time every semester and full time during summer and winter breaks. I wish that I was able to qualify for these types of financial aid because it would take away the stress of a huge financial burden for me and my family. I would have more time to not worry about working and actually have moments for rest and passion projects.
I talk to students all the time, and the biggest barriers to education that I hear every day are always finances – CUNY is an institution built for working-class people, but the rising cost of tuition is making it less and less accessible. Every semester more and more of my friends have to drop out because they can no longer afford the cost of attendance. We need a free and fully funded CUNY so that every student has the opportunity to determine their own destiny, regardless of their financial status. The ability to pursue education is a human right and must be regarded as such. I wish that the state saw CUNY for the potential it has to be an engine of equity for all students, as well as an investment in the future of our economy and society as a whole.
Ashmani Appu, Hunter College
I am a freshman at Hunter College currently studying Biology. After college, I plan on going to medical school to further my education. I do not pay for school on my own, I receive financial aid. I receive TAP, Pell, and am a part of the SEEK opportunity program. I pay for my textbooks with the money I receive from Seek. I do not work but am trying to find a job to help support my family with money. I do not receive SNAP or work-study and pay for food with my SEEK checks and other financial aid. If I did not receive financial aid, I would have to resort to taking out a loan or finding a job so that I can make my own money. I am somewhat concerned about graduating on time, because I might not be able to complete all of my prerequisites for my major in time.
We need a fully-funded CUNY for low-income students who are not in any opportunity programs like SEEK or EOP and have to depend on other means such as working or work-study to pay for college. Many students could benefit from increased investment. Too many students have to rely on balancing jobs, school, and loans.
Judley Baltazard, City College of NY
I’m a junior majoring in Sociology. My future plans include graduate school to become a clinical therapist. I value all the resources available to be able to gain the skills necessary to further my career.
I am able to attend college through financial aid, including TAP and a Pell grant. I’m a first generation student, so furthering my education is more of a community achievement than anything else. Although I receive financial aid I have sought part-time employment to aid with my many expenses i.e food, bills, clothes, etc. I was unable, however, due to my heavy class load of 5 classes per semester. This class load is essential in order to receive the TAP and Pell grants which cap after four years.
A fully funded CUNY is fundamental to not only the success of thousands of students but the economy as a whole.
Sophia Pontello, SUNY Cortland
I’m currently a senior studying Psychology at SUNY Cortland. After graduation, I am going to attend graduate school and then begin a career as a school psychologist. In order to pay for school, I rely upon my own financial resources. My mother helps me, but I only receive a small amount of financial aid. I do not receive any grant money, like TAP or Pell, and I do not qualify for support programs that may assist me financially. When it comes to costs like textbooks and college fees, I pay for it out of pocket. I work regularly at a daycare center to pay for my food costs.
I love college; I love its structure, which encourages me to do well in school. But college students struggle enough already, and SUNY schools should be fully funded because not every student can afford the costs of higher education and that’s something they shouldn’t have to worry about. The biggest challenge for me was the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s made my senior year very difficult to enjoy. Outside of that, some other challenges include having an inadequate adviser, who didn’t recommend the right things that I should be doing as far as my academics. I love SUNY Cortland and I want to see the right changes happen here even after I graduate.
Bryan Reynoso, Syracuse University
I’m a freshman at Syracuse University studying Economics, and I am originally from the Bronx, NY. I decided to attend Syracuse because of all the opportunities available to make connections and build skills for my life after I graduate. Most employers believe that a bachelor’s degree is the same as what a high school diploma is now, and that means we need to build up our resumes so much while also being full-time students. I’m blessed enough to be able to receive part of my costs paid for by private scholarships as well as Pell Grants and a TAP reward, but I’ve still been forced to take out thousands of dollars in loans per year. I still don’t understand why I was forced at 18 to make a decision about going into debt for the next three decades in order to attend the college I wanted to.
I was only able to afford textbooks and some of my personal costs for the past 2 semesters by working at a full-time internship over the summer, and even then I had to use my loan refund to pay for the rest in the Spring. Having to pay an additional $1000 for one year’s worth of textbooks wasn’t something that I was prepared for as an incoming Freshman, and I don’t know how other students who aren’t able to save as much can pay for them. Going forward, I’m extremely worried about cuts to financial aid programs such as TAP and the Pell Grant program because there is no way I’d be able to continue to attend Syracuse without that help. Even though we are a private school, Syracuse students rely on assistance from our state government to be able to afford an education and help out our families after we graduate, instead of taking out even more loans and going deeper into debt.