Posts Tagged ‘student loans’

Joshua Chandra, SUNY ESF

While I’ve been lucky enough to have family members that have the means to support me through school, tuition and fee hikes have taken a major toll on my friends. Almost everyone I know is taking a full load of science classes that include lab sessions. They all have to work long hours.

Because we are majoring in hard sciences, textbooks can easily be over a thousand dollars a semester on top of rising tuition costs. We’re expected to either pay now or take out tens of thousands in loans that we can pay if we get jobs after college. This makes it stressful to just be a student because getting a well-paying job is so important.

We’re supposed to be the ones protecting our planet and developing new technologies to fight climate change, but how can we do that if learning how to do that is so difficult? Almost everyone I know talks about how worried they are about their future post-graduation.

I’m also extremely worried about the SUNY system because I have a younger brother and sister who will both be going to college in a few years. If the economy tanks, and my parents lose their jobs, what are my siblings supposed to do? They haven’t been able to save for themselves because they’ve been brought up thinking that they’ll be okay. But if school keeps getting more expensive, I’m not sure what they’ll be able to do.

Nzinga Rosa, Buffalo State College

I’m a sophomore at Buffalo State. I’m coming to Buffalo from the Bronx, where I also went to high school. I’m a psychology major, and when it comes to my career goals, I go back and forth between wanting to get into clinical psychology or having my own business around health care.

One of the reasons I chose to come to Buffalo State is that it is one of the less expensive SUNY schools, but even with that, I wouldn’t call it affordable. One of the biggest costs, which changes a lot depending on the semester, is textbooks. I actually didn’t take a math class in the past knowing that I was going to have to spend a hundred plus dollars on a single textbook. This semester, though, I didn’t spend anything on textbooks because one of my teachers has an online textbook, but last semester I spent a little over $300 for textbooks.

I also don’t get a lot in financial aid, so I find myself constantly having to take out loans. I’ve looked into sponsorship and other programs to apply for to pay for school, and I currently do get one grant, but it’s not that much money.

I wish there was an easier way to find out what I can apply for as far as financial aid goes. I’ve been to the financial aid office maybe four times throughout my two years here—so every semester—really just to try to understand my bill and to understand what resources there are to be able to pay it.

I have an advisor, but I wish there were more options, and it was more convenient for students to schedule meetings because a lot of the time your advisor is not available. Even if the resource is technically there, if you can’t access it when you need it, I think it needs to be changed.

Janiris Rodriguez, SUNY Cortland

I’m a junior at SUNY Cortland studying Teaching English as a Second Language. After graduation, I plan on becoming a teacher.

I pay for school in a few ways. I’ve taken out student loans and received grants. I work to help cover the costs on top of that. I receive both TAP and the Pell Grant which is about $5,000 per year between the two. I also work at ASC (auxiliary services) about seven hours a week to help pay for food and gas so that I can go to my observations for my education class.

If I didn’t receive financial aid, I wouldn’t be in school because there is just no way I could afford it. We need a fully funded SUNY so that everyone can get an education no matter their financial situation. We all have a right to an education and a better future.

Maria Klara Ventura, SUNY Cortland

I’m a sophomore at SUNY Cortland double majoring in anthropology and international studies. I’m also getting a minor in Latin American studies. At this point, I’m considering going to law school after graduation or going into humanitarian work.

I’m from California, so I pay the out-of-state tuition for SUNY Cortland, and I have no choice but to take out private loans and government loans to pay for school. I don’t receive TAP or the Pell Grant, so I rely on my loans to pay for college.

I do work-study and receive minimum wage, which I use to pay for textbooks and any other expenses that I have. I have a meal plan which is included in my loans. If I didn’t receive work-study aid, I would not be able to attend college.

There are countries that have free college, and opening the doors to education to more people will help future generations. The value of having a degree is huge, and making SUNY free would allow everyone to have the ability of attaining one. 

Daniel Reischer, SUNY Cortland

I’m currently a sophomore at SUNY Cortland majoring in Political Science. At this point, my plan is to attend graduate school after graduation.

As far as paying for school, I rely on taking out loans, using the financial aid I receive, and having my parents pay some tuition out-of-pocket. I receive both TAP and the Pell Grant, which allow me to pay for school each semester. I don’t work, so I need financial aid to pay my tuition and to pay for textbooks.

If I didn’t receive financial aid, in all likelihood, I would not be able to attend college. So many people struggle to pay for college, which is a large part of why SUNY needs to be fully funded. If SUNY was better funded, those who can’t afford college would be able to go, and middle-class families that have more than one child would have the ability to send all of their children to school.

The biggest challenge that I have faced as a SUNY student is dealing with the stress of not knowing how my parents will pay for my sister to go to college in two years and worrying about paying off my student debt.

Mary Faduski, SUNY Cortland

I’m a senior at SUNY Cortland majoring in Sociology with a minor in Anthropology. Once I graduate, I plan on getting a job working at a children’s home in case management.

I pay for school with private loans. Because my parents don’t qualify, I don’t receive TAP or the Pell Grant. I have no option but to take out loans. I have to work back home and on the weekends when I’m at school to help pay for college and other expenses that I have.

When it comes to textbooks, my parents help pay for them, but I pay out of pocket for groceries because I don’t have a meal plan. I decided to take out another loan so that I could afford a meal plan, but that hasn’t gone through yet.

Since my dad makes too much, I don’t qualify for financial aid, but my parents still can’t afford to send me to school so my only option was to take out multiple loans and have my dad co-sign them. My parents have already put my two siblings through school, and we all have had to take out loans because it’s just not possible for my parents to pay for us all to go.

My biggest concern is that when I leave school I won’t get a job that will allow me to pay off my loans, which I have to start making payments on six months after graduating. If SUNY was fully funded, I wouldn’t have to worry about paying all these loans back, and it would also open doors for those who can’t afford to attend school.

Michaila Larsen, SUNY Cortland

I am a senior at SUNY Cortland studying Sociology with a concentration in Criminology. My plan after graduation is to go into social work, and I’m currently looking at a possible job in Maine that doesn’t require a master’s degree. I can’t afford graduate school, and my loans are already collecting interest so I have no option but to only look at jobs that don’t require another degree.

I currently pay for school with subsidized and Stafford loans and a small amount of financial aid. I don’t receive TAP, and I only receive a small amount of aid from the Pell Grant. In order to pay for school, I have to work. I work at the child care center at the YWCA before and after school.

I sometimes use the money I make from my job to pay for textbooks, and my parents help out when they can, but oftentimes if I can’t afford a textbook, I just don’t get it. I have had textbooks that cost more than $100, and I just can’t afford that. I have no option except to not buy the book.

I don’t have a meal plan, so I pay for groceries out of pocket, and sometimes my parents help pay for food. If I didn’t receive financial aid, going to school wouldn’t be an option for me, or I would have no choice but to co-sign another loan.

A fully funded SUNY system would allow those students who can’t afford school to have the ability to attend, and it would help current students stay in school without fear of paying loans back. Some students have no choice but to leave college because, financially, they just can’t do it. How can anyone start a life after graduating when they’re so deep in debt?

Not only is paying for school a challenge I face, but paying for parking is another financial obligation that I have. I would say that I have paid close to $300 in parking tickets since I have been here, and the cost of a parking pass is huge.

The biggest challenge that I’ve faced as a SUNY student is having my classes blocked when I can’t pay my bill. I wasn’t able to register for classes that I needed because I couldn’t make my payment. This could prevent students from graduating on time because certain classes are only offered at specific times, and if students can’t make their payments then they won’t be able to register when the class is offered. This forces students to pay more and stay for another semester.

Courtney Hines, SUNY Cortland

I’m a senior at SUNY Cortland majoring in philosophy. After I graduate, I plan on working for a nonprofit organization. I pay for school with both financial aid and loans.

I receive TAP and the Pell Grant, and I also have a part-time job during the semester.

When it comes to textbooks, I usually don’t buy them because I can’t afford them. I try to find an online PDF version of the textbook, but if I can’t find that, then I have no option but to not have the book for class. For food, my financial aid covers the cost. I use it to buy groceries.

I depend on my financial aid, and this year I didn’t receive as much as previous semesters. My financial aid went from $4,000 to $400 because my sister moved out so my parents were expected to have that extra money to pay for my tuition. My mom had no choice but to take out a loan to help cover the costs of school.

We need a fully funded SUNY system so that all students have the opportunity to attend college, and they won’t be worried about paying for it. My biggest challenge as a SUNY student has been paying for school and worrying about how my parents are going to help me pay for it. A student’s main focus should not be paying for school; they should be focused on pursuing their education.

Wasan Bahr, SUNY Cortland

I’m a senior at SUNY Cortland studying Teaching English as a Second Language. After graduation, I plan on getting a teaching job and to begin working towards paying off my extensive student debt.

I pay for school in a few ways. I take out student loans and work a few part-time jobs, such as driving for Uber, cleaning houses, and interpreting for various places in the Syracuse area. As for TAP, I’m not eligible because I was working full-time, and I made too much money two years ago to qualify. I only receive about $200 from the Pell Grant, and I work as much as possible so that I am able to pay for college. As for textbooks, I use financial aid to pay for them. I don’t receive SNAP, so my husband and I pay out of pocket for groceries.

If I didn’t receive financial aid, I would not be able to go to school because it is so expensive. I have had no choice but to take out student loans, so I’m hoping to get a job after graduation that will help to pay off my student loans. I have no worries about graduating on time, but I am a non-traditional student.

SUNY should be fully funded and affordable so that students have the ability to attend college and ultimately have more opportunities and a better quality of life where they’re not forced to work low-paying jobs. 

Andi Bruce, SUNY Cortland

I’m a freshman at SUNY Cortland studying English and philosophy with minors in women, gender, and sexuality studies, and in economics. At this point, I don’t have a definite plan for after graduation.

I pay for school with scholarships, financial aid, and loans. I receive TAP and the Pell Grant, and I also work through the work-study program as a part of my financial aid. I use my aid to pay for some of my tuition and textbooks, and I have a meal plan. Like many other students, if I didn’t receive financial aid I would not be able to attend college.

My biggest challenge as a student has been thinking about the future. The Excelsior scholarship was not clear about how they deduct Pell and TAP grants, so my parents had to take out an extra loan right before the tuition bill was due so I could afford to go here. I’m going to have all this debt to pay off when I leave college, and that’s stressful to think about.

We need fully funded colleges because in this economy you can’t rise up without a college education, and preventing someone from receiving such an education is depriving them of equal opportunity and a chance at the life they want and deserve. I think college should be free for everyone, everywhere. Education should be a right, not a privilege.