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Posts Tagged ‘student loans’

Neely Benoit, SUNY Cortland

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I’m a Professional Writing major with a minor in Anthropology, and this is my fifth year here at SUNY Cortland. I’m planning to go to grad school after this to study Anthropology and Political Science. Right now, I take out private loans. I think I got the Pell Grant for about a semester, and it was only like $50. I don’t receive TAP, and I couldn’t even qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship.

I’m a student director in one of the campus buildings, and I also pick up shifts at Auxiliary Services as a floater. So I’ll wash dishes or cook chicken on the grill for six hours straight. In general, I work anywhere between 12 to 25 hours a week. I’m always looking for more work because I don’t get any money for rent or food, and that takes away from study time and homework.

I applied for food stamps, but I wasn’t eligible because I didn’t work enough to qualify. They don’t take into consideration that I’m also a full-time student. I’m already a year late to graduate, but I’ll be on track to graduate this year. If it wasn’t for working so much, I’m sure I would’ve graduated on time for my degree. We need a fully-funded SUNY so people like me can graduate on time and not have to worry about going to grad school because of all the private loans they’ve already taken out. I’m walking away from undergraduate degree with almost $100,000 worth of student debt. And that’s from a state school. I’ve already started paying those loans off for three years already. That’s another thing I pay for with work, besides car insurance, my car payment, internet, electricity, rent, food, and textbooks.

I don’t pay more than $300 a semester in books. If a semester cost me more than 300 bucks in textbooks, I would weigh which books are more valuable and get rid of the other ones. There are also some classes that require fees in order to take them. I took art for three semesters, and that was $200 for each course each time, totaling $600. And that doesn’t even cover materials. It covered studio space and workshop equipment.

My biggest challenge as a SUNY student has been finances. I worry more about my finances than I do about passing each class. I know I’m at a major disadvantage in class because I have to work so much more just to make sure that I have a roof over my head while I’m in school, or just to make sure the internet doesn’t cut off so that we can finish our homework. I think if we had a much lower tuition or if there were less hurtles to have to jump through for a student like me, then I might be able to not be in as much debt, and then I would be able to go to grad school without the fear of not just getting rejected, but also of it not being paid for.

Katherine Breton, SUNY Cortland

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I’m a sophomore at SUNY Cortland. I study psychology, and I’m working toward a minor in Spanish. After I graduate, I’m going to grad school for my Master’s and PHD in psychology, probably somewhere in New York City– by home. I currently get financial aid, TAP, and the Pell Grant, but even with that I still take out loans, and my parents pay a little bit to help too.

I don’t work during the school year, but at home I work at the YMCA, and between the money I get from that and babysitting, I can pay for my textbooks. If I didn’t get financial aid I’d probably be in a CUNY school instead of at SUNY Cortland, so that I was closer to home and it’d be less expensive. I wanted to go to SUNY because I wanted to get out of the city for awhile. There are so many problems that SUNY and CUNY students have to face right now, but just one of them is transportation to and from school and home. That’s expensive, and I feel like that should be provided. We need a fully funded SUNY and CUNY so that everybody has the opportunity to get a degree no matter what financial circumstances they’re in.

Evelyn Marks, SUNY Cortland

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I’m a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) major at SUNY Cortland, but before that I was an Adolescent Education major. I’m kind of a “super duper senior” because I graduated more than 2 years ago with a B.A. in English, which makes me a non-traditional student.

I have two plans that I could go for after graduating. I could get my master’s here at Cortland and then go to New York City to teach, or the second plan is basically going abroad and teaching. I pay for college with loans and work. I used to receive TAP and the Pell Grant when I was initially going to college, but I don’t receive them anymore.

I work part-time at Walmart, roughly 20 hours a week. Last year I worked full-time and could barely balance my workload between classes and work. This year it’s a lot easier to balance the workload. I get my textbooks through the inter-library loan, which is awesome because you don’t have to pay a million dollars for books. I use whatever money I have leftover from work for food, even though right now I don’t have a lot of money for that, either. I was going to apply for SNAP, but I heard that college kids aren’t always eligible.

Even if I didn’t receive financial aid for college I would still go, considering that’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of years, but I am concerned about graduating on time. Some of the classes I need to take actually conflict with other classes I need, which means I have to push my graduation date out a year, essentially. I think SUNY/CUNY should be free because I think that students shouldn’t have to worry about scraping together money for college when they should be trying to perform better in classes.

Josh Mazariegos, SUNY Cortland

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I am finishing my final year as a Teaching English as a Second Language major with a minor in Spanish. After Cortland I plan on moving back to Columbia to be an English professor.

I do receive some financial help from the Pell Grant, but I still have to work year-round to cover the other expenses, like all of the textbooks I need for my classes. I typically work full-time in the summer months, and I also work at Neubig Dining Hall between classes to get by. As far as food goes, I do have a meal plan that I have to pay for out- of pocket, but I also work in one of the dining halls so I’m not a big fan of working around the same food I have to eat.

Megan, SUNY New Paltz

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I am a double major: Sociology with a concentration in Criminology and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. As a senior at SUNY New Paltz, I’m not yet sure what I will be doing after graduation. I will likely be moving back home with my parents and working on Long Island in order to save money and plan for the future. I am paying for school through loans. I work about 34 hours a week between my two paid jobs. I also have an unpaid internship. Although I have worked throughout all four years of college, it is likely that I will have very little saved upon graduation as I have to spend my money on costs like groceries and rent.  I pay for books myself or share the cost/book with a classmate.

If I did not receive financial aid, I would be taking out more loans and therefore graduate with even worse debt than I will already be facing. Since I am a transfer student, a large sum of credits from my former university were not accepted at SUNY New Paltz. I did not think I would be able to graduate on time but am doing so by taking 18-credit course loads and enrolling in summer and winter classes that are not covered by financial aid.

We need fully funded SUNY and CUNY because education should be treated as a right, not a privilege. It is unacceptable that cuts are being made to opportunity programs that assist students who need the most support. More than that, it is disheartening that students like myself have to work multiple jobs on top of taking classes and being involved in our campus communities. We are over-worked, lack sleep and are sometimes malnourished.

Although I am extraordinarily busy, I make time for NYPIRG in order to advocate for things like fully-funded higher education and voter rights with the hope that generations to come don’t have to face the same struggles as myself and many of my peers. My story is not unique and absolutely not the worst of the pack. There are students who are responsible for going to school, paying for their livelihood (rent, groceries, medicine, etc.) who are also responsible for supporting their families at home, whether it be parents, siblings or children. Fully-funded SUNY and CUNY would alleviate the stressors that cause many students to drop-out of college. They would likely also increase enrollment rates, as money and/or lack of access to financial aid is one of the major reasons people choose not to go to college. Education is a right! And we will continue to fight, fight, fight!

Nagdeska Paulino, SUNY New Paltz

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I am a junior, and I am majoring in Sociology with two minors in Anthropology and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. I do not have any idea about what I am doing after college, but a plan I briefly contemplated is going for my Master’s and teaching sociology. So far, half of my tuition and other school bills have been paid by grants like Pell and TAP and the other half has been loans.

I am not a part of any opportunity programs; EOP would have been nice but the program rejected me because my high school GPA was one point too high. I have a work study job that does not really produce anything substantial; we’re halfway through the semester and I have not received one check. Honestly, I have been flat broke for a while so I finessed textbooks this semester and managed to get all but one of them for free.

I only use my meal plan for food but if I did not have enough financial aid to pay for it, I would probably only eat once a day. I don’t think I’m concerned about graduating on time but it would not surprise me if I had to stay longer than I would like to. A fully funded SUNY would be beneficial since I would not feel as though I’m walking with a -$30,000 above my head every day. Just the thought of the loans I’ve already accumulated, only two years into my degree, makes me want to not do my work. This morphs into procrastination and we all know how that goes. My biggest challenges have been having to decide which assignments are more worth printing out since my printing quota is depreciating quickly and wanting to go home but having no money for a trailways ticket.   

Tiara Jones, City College of NY

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I am an Advertising and Public Relations major. I do not receive TAP or Pell. I take out loans which is always extremely delayed. My refund check is always delayed 3 weeks to a month or longer.

I think there needs to be more opportunities for people who can’t receive financial aid because of their parents even though their parents don’t help them. At one time this school was free. We shouldn’t be struggling month to month figuring out how we’re going to pay for tuition.

Salsabill Mostafa, City College of NY

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This is my second bachelor’s degree. Even though I do get some financial aid, it does not cover my whole tuition. I’m in a difficult position since I’m a full-time student it’s not possible for me to also work full-time. I work part-time and that’s just enough to get me by with my expenses. Then the question arises, how do I pay the rest of my tuition after TAP because I don’t get any Pell. So, I ask for loans, I ask for private loans, I ask for federal loans.

It’s just so unfortunate because even if I’m a second degree student, this is a public institution and education is a public right and is a civil right. Not only should we be taken care of for our first degree, but anytime we want to further our education, further our life. Whether it’s a second degree or graduate level studies, we should not be paying out of pocket. My first degree was from Brooklyn College. For my first degree, my tuition was covered by Pell and by TAP.

It feels like you are always stuck it feels like you will never move on with your life. I live under a decent standard of living. Sometimes I do end up borrowing money from my parents. I have difficulty buying books, I barely get to buy my textbooks, the commute is an issue. This makes life very difficult, spending your energies in places where you should not be.

Ariyah Adams, SUNY New Paltz

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I am currently a junior majoring  in communications with a concentration in public relations and double minoring in theater and business. I pay for tuition through TAP and Pell Grants, as well as take out loans to cover the the rest of my bill. After I graduate I plan on attending graduate school at either SUNY New  Paltz or a different SUNY. I am still undecided about that. I plan on paying for graduate school through applying for grants and scholarships.

Right now I am working two jobs, I work at the dining hall on campus and I have a work study job. I don’t depend on money from my parents so usually I pay for my textbooks and food on my own or a split the cost of the textbook with a friend or classmate in the same class as me. I am also a student at the Educational Opportunity Program at my school which has helped me a lot, getting through navigating financial aid. If this program didn’t exist I’m not sure if I would be in college. The EOP program has helped me grow into a strong individual and has offered me tutoring, mentors and advisors that always have my back.

Flor Najera, SUNY New Paltz

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I am a Public Relations major and Journalism minor.  I intend to graduate in December 2019. After college, I plan on attaining a stable job where I will pursue marketing and get a place of my own. However, I am not ruling out graduate school. I pay for school through financial aid as well as the two loans I took out. I feel blessed to be a part of the EOP program, where I have had an advisor and group of students in similar positions as me for the last four years helping me navigate the SUNY system.  I receive TAP and work study – I work at the student union front desk. I pay for textbooks through financial aid and receive a refund check of $150 per semester. In the case of that not being enough to afford all textbooks, I will turn to scanning or finding the electronic version.

Help also comes from Alumni donations to EOP that are applied toward paying for books.  I live on campus and have a meal plan that is paid for within financial aid. I do not make use of the childcare center located on campus, as I do not have any children. However, I still find the center to be beneficial because some of my professors bring their children there so they can teach for the day, which in turn allows me to receive an education. If I did not receive financial aid, I would still find a way to attend college, whether that be working as many shifts as possible, applying for scholarships, and loans.  It is important for me to receive at least a bachelor’s degree because of the difference it makes having one vs. not having one in the real world.

My family and I are immigrants. I am fortunate that I am able to attend college and receive a degree, and I am one of the first in my family to achieve this. My brothers did not go to college and had to work straight out of high school to help out my family financially. It’s tough because most businesses are expanding their credential requirements, most requiring a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. How can we work toward achieving what is required of us if it is not made available?