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Posts Tagged ‘SEEK’

Andreina Martinez, City College of NY

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I am a senior majoring in Physiology and minoring in Latin Studies. I’m graduating in May. I plan on getting a job in politics after college so I have a couple of internships with legislators in my community. I am a SEEK student so I get some help from financial aid. I receive the Pell Grant and work here at school as a tutor. I pay for textbooks and food with that money.

Without financial aid I would not be in school. Last year I was concerned with tuition being raised that I would have to take out a loan but I managed my classes so that my financial aid didn’t run out.  A lot of things in high school I took for granted. Like for instance, in high school, you get a metro card provided and don’t have to pay $130 every month. Textbooks are very expensive in college and even if you rent them they cost a lot of money. It’s hard trying to maintain a decent lifestyle like trying to eat healthy and those things while being in school full time or part time. I often still do not have enough money to eat.

A fully funded CUNY would give a lot of opportunity to people who can’t afford it who maybe didn’t have any kind of financial aid programs. Without financial aid a lot of us wouldn’t even be here today.

Ismael Ali, Hunter College

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I am a junior at Hunter College majoring in Political Science with a minor in Black Studies. I am also the first person in my family to go to college. Right now, my main priority is to graduate as soon as possible so I can get a job to provide for my family and pay my student loans.

I was first a college student at SUNY New Paltz where I was part of the Education Opportunity Program (EOP). One of my main challenges at New Paltz was the price of textbooks. Even though I was working two on-campus jobs, I found myself spending two thirds of my paycheck towards textbooks. I addressed the issue to my EOP advisor, who cared and loved me like their own, and they were able to help me with an EOP book voucher. This voucher helped me to pay for the rest of my school supplies. The downside is that this book voucher is limited. I know that I am one of so many students who struggle with textbook costs.

In the fall of 2018, I transferred to Hunter College. The first thing that comes to mind when people ask me why I transferred is the fact that the cost of tuition at SUNY New Paltz was overwhelming. As a full-time college student, it was impossible for me to get a job that would cover my tuition so every semester I had to take out loans.  

I’m now in SEEK. Like EOP, Search for Education Elevation and Knowledge Program (SEEK) helps me with my textbooks and provides me with an advisor. Thanks to the SEEK program, my transition from New Paltz to Hunter College was very smooth. This is why we need true leadership from our representatives to defend and expand opportunity programs.

Ariana Hernandez, College of Staten Island

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I am currently a sophomore in my second semester majoring in Psychology at the College of Staten Island. I am worried about actually graduating on time with the problems I’ve had with my financial aid. Last semester I received aid from TAP and Pell; however, my financial aid has been taken away from me now.

I decided to change my major a few months ago, and, despite being told that this would not affect my financial aid, I got a notice at the start of the semester that there weren’t enough credits for financial aid to cover me. This left other financial opportunity programs such as Excelsior, ASAP, and SEEK out of my reach as well. Right now, my parents are paying out of pocket to keep me in college, and sooner or later we might have to start taking out student loans, which I really don’t want to do. In addition, I might not even have enough credits to graduate on time, and I think winter and summer courses are going to be a massive toll on me, financially and mentally.

The fact that programs like TAP are not offered to winter and summer students leaves me stuck between not wanting to become a financial burden on my family and wanting to graduate as quickly as possible. The financial burden of living expenses such as textbooks, utilities, and food on campus really impacts what I’m going to do in the future. I believe a fully funded CUNY could give passionate and driven students the opportunity to attend and graduate from college without having to worry about the costs. I want a higher quality education in New York, so that everyone has a chance to plan for their dream job in the future.

Jairon Munoz, Brooklyn College

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When I graduated from Brooklyn College with a Business Management and Finance degree, I thought this was it. Financial aid from TAP and the SEEK program had covered my tuition and expenses, I would find a job and start my life. However, I am back in school studying Accounting in order to get more job security because I could not secure a job within the first major I studied.

Currently, I do not work, so I pay for college and other expenses with the money I saved since I graduated Brooklyn College. Luckily, I worked hard and can fall on that cushion I provided for myself. Then again, I have to make a lot of decisions on how to allocate my money, such as I ride the bike to school rather than take the bus because transit money can be used to buy food, rent or supplies for school.

Eventually, my savings will run out and I will have to work again in order to go to college. I would qualify for financial aid, TAP and other services but because of the four-year limit, my time is up. I am already looking in to scholarships and awards because I do not want to take a loan and be one of the many students in debt. Hopefully, after obtaining my second Bachelors I can start studying for the CPA exam, get my license and work in an accounting firm. Although, with that comes more money in order to take the courses to study for those exams. All I worry about are my finances when I should be focusing more on a midterm I have next week for Managerial Accounting.

Michael D’Amato, Brooklyn College

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I am the first in my family to go to college, thanks to the help of a partial TAP award, the Pell Grant the SEEK program and now the Excelsior Scholarship. I am a transfer student, attending Brooklyn College to obtain my Bachelors of Science in Psychology. My father had also lost his job two years ago, so my financial aid situation has fluctuated each year based on how much he makes.

Overall, I am  able to go to school and be the first in my family to graduate college, so I am very thankful that the scholarship has helped with that. The idea of living in New York after graduation is not a problem. The idea of taking 30 credits by the end of the year, however, is.

12 credits a semester is already a lot. I am currently only taking 12 credits this semester, through the SEEK program, which I have been a part of since attending Kingsborough Community College. 

 Without the Scholarship or any financial aid, I would have paid out of pocket since my family is against the idea of taking out loans. The most stressful cost for me right now is my metro card.

 

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.