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Posts Tagged ‘TAP’

Sonia Nabi, SUNY New Paltz

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I’m currently a first semester senior and I’ll be hopefully graduating in December 2019. It’s been a really stressful few months. I switched my major junior year and I’ve been playing catch up ever since. I’m not too sure what I want to do after I graduate college, I’m more focused on actually graduating since I’m already graduating late. I think I’m going to get a job and take a year off to pay some of my loans.

I recently moved off campus last semester because I realized that it would be cheaper for me. I don’t live too far from campus so the commute isn’t that bad. I’m really grateful that my parents help me pay for some of my textbooks, because I currently don’t have a job because I’m so overwhelmed with the credits I’m taking. When my parents don’t  have money to send me for food, I go to the food pantry on campus, one of my housemates told me about it.

I think about how fortunate I am because of all the financial aid assistance I receive and having  the support of my parents these are the things that really keep me going. I am a TAP and Pell grant recipient and can’t imagine how I would pay for college without that aid, both of my parents are immigrants from Guyana and I just want to make them proud by earning this degree.

Suraiya Priyanka, Hunter College

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I am a second semester freshman at Hunter College and currently undeclared because I’m narrowing down which major interests me most. I am trying to graduate college as soon as possible, which means I have to take 15 credits per semester, but that is very difficult when you also have to work and support your parents. I receive financial aid from TAP and Excelsior, but that only covers my tuition and Excelsior only gives me a few hundred dollars. I considered applying for ASAP since it would’ve been very helpful to me, but it is not offered at my college. I have to pay for my other expenses including textbooks, food, and transportation.

In my four people household, my dad is the only one that works full time and I work a part time job two days a week. If I decided to prioritize earning money and worked a couple extra days, I wouldn’t be able to focus on school and graduate on time. I already struggle to pay for food, textbooks, and transportation so if I didn’t receive aid to cover my tuition, I would not be able to go to college at all. In high school, I didn’t have to worry about all these things and all of a sudden, with all of this pressure being put on me, I constantly find myself trying to balance school and work and am left with no time to relax. Taking 5 classes every semester and also working is too much to handle and as a result, I am concerned that I won’t be able to do well in school or graduate on time.

We need a fully funded CUNY because many students depend on it. New York City is filled with low-income students and families who choose CUNY because it is advertised as a more affordable option, when in reality it is not. So far, my biggest challenge with being a CUNY student has been financial aid. If all my college expenses were paid for and covered by the government, I would be able to focus a lot more on my education and not have to stress about my finances. CUNY needs to be free again because New Yorkers need free public college now more than ever before.

Stephanie Moy, Hunter College

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My name is Stephanie Moy and I go to Hunter College, double majoring in Environmental Studies and Urban Studies, and minoring in Asian American Studies. I would like to preface this by clarifying that although my story will sound oddly similar to other students’ experiences with college, it is not a testament of how poorly we manage our time, but rather it is a multitude of personal and systematic circumstances that make us have to work that much harder to leave college successfully with degrees.

Tuition hikes have been going up every year, yet the quality of education is remaining stagnant. Having been at Hunter for nearly four years, I have seen a decrease in diversity and availability of course offerings throughout the semesters, making it harder to finish elective requirements for my majors. In addition to that, I have lost all my financial aid in the last two years of college, even though FAFSA has been asking for the same tax forms with the same necessary information.

To go from having my financial aid covering the entirety of my tuition to having absolutely no funding, it has been an extreme financial burden. As a full time student with an internship and volunteer extracurricular activities, working a part time job in order to fund my education is another stressor making it all the more difficult to have a successful higher education career. Because of the limited course selections, it makes it more difficult to rearrange my class schedules to allow availability for a part time job.

For my first three years of college, I was working not only as a server three to four days a week, but also as an usher. After attending classes and doing all my extracurriculars in the morning and afternoon, I would have to rush to work, work another seven to eight hours, suffer through immense nightly train delays, and get home at 2 or 3am, only to study and do more schoolwork.

Losing my financial aid and having to pay the ever increasing cost of tuition has compromised not only my educational success in college, but also my mental and physical health. For years, I was only getting two the three hours of sleep maximum, if any at all. In addition to that, there were days I did not have time to meal prep and bring lunch from home, leaving me no choice, but to either buy lunch at school or skip out on meals because I simply could not afford it.

This is why CUNY schools need more funding for more opportunities to expand financial aid 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 and 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.

Mikee Villanueva, Hunter College

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I am currently a senior double majoring in Political Studies and Urban Studies. I do not qualify for the TAP and Pell grants, but I do receive a small scholarship from Hunter since I am part of the Roosevelt Scholars Program. While the scholarship helped me in paying my tuition, I still struggle to make ends meet. I currently work two jobs, totaling to around 40 hours per week, in order to finish paying off my tuition. I also try to help my family out with expenses at home since both my parents are not working.

Since I work two jobs, I find it hard to make time to focus on my studies. There have been countless times where I had to choose between calling off for work in order to study for a test and risk losing my job, or to go to work, pull an all-nighter to study and hope that I studied enough to do well in the class.

If I had a larger scholarship, I would not have to work 40 hours a week. Instead, I could focus more time on my studies and other opportunities that would help me in developing my future.

Sarah Zielstorf, SUNY Cortland

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As a college student I knew I would have my fair share of financial issues. Applying for scholarships, grants and taking out loans can be a painful process, especially when you’re deemed not poor enough to get actual help and not rich enough to cover the expenses. I’m a sophomore at SUNY Cortland and am currently in the BFA studying studio art but I plan on changing my major to gear more towards illustration/animation. My career goals involve working for major companies creating storyboard art for tv shows/movies or video games. As an artist I understand that right from the get go I won’t have an immediate high paying job, it’s something I will have to work hard for and I look forward to that part of my life. Furthermore as an artist I know money will be tight but I haven’t even stepped foot into that career field yet and I’m already facing many financial struggles that I was under the impression would be taken care of. As of right now I have received the federal Pell grant, TAP, federal Perkins loan and other loans and I also work to get myself through school. And sadly that still isn’t enough. Due to a low credit score I am unqualified to get more loans that would pile on to my amount of debt. I couldn’t afford to pay my tuition up front so now I make monthly payments, any money I earn I can barely touch because it goes towards a $500.00 monthly payment plan that my mom struggles to help me with.

Any time I need to spend money or finally agree to eat out I always check in with my mom to see if I can afford it. I report back to her any payments I made so we can keep track of our funds. The Excelsior scholarship promised to aid those making $100,000 a year or less. I fall under that category as do many others. The Excelsior Scholarship also claimed it would cover tuition payments and as years progressed the threshold would increase so no one had to pay for college and be in debt. Sounds great right? And it is, in theory. I understand that when any new program rolls out there are bumps in the road but my experience with the scholarship was anything but helpful. If the items on your college bill don’t have the word “tuition” in it you pay for it yourself. Though it’s true that any amount of money is helpful, the specific qualifications for the scholarship helped as little people as possible. One of my friends who received it only got $1,000. After receiving financial aid, federal aid etc and receiving the Excelsior Scholarship I thought I was finally free of counting pennies to see if I could buy a half gallon of milk, I was wrong. The Excelsior Scholarship only allows up to $5,000 per student. Although I qualified, the extra aid I received covered many expenses so the Excelsior Scholarship was taken away from me. The federal aid I received due to my poverty disqualified me from getting more help. I had to pick my poison; get more money from aid, loans and grants, or get anywhere from a few hundred to $5,000 for solely tuition. This scholarship doesn’t include dorms, meal plans, studio fees, lab fees, athletic fees, transportation fees etc. I chose the aid I received because it came out to more than the scholarship. But why do I have to choose?

Those whose incomes are higher don’t qualify for the federal aid that I received so they would receive the Excelsior Scholarship, but I’m not rich enough to solely rely on that. Those who are poorer than me recieve even more aid and may not need Excelsior. Is it better to be so poor that you require full government aid to get you through school?

College is a time for fun, experimenting, learning and so much more. I shouldn’t be crippled by my financial situation. The financial aid office also required my parents 2015 tax records, my financial situation has changed drastically in two years! Looking at recent records most likely would have helped me get more aid but that is not the way the system works. I want to study abroad so I have a savings account but on more than one occasion we’ve had to dip in to help with payments. So I work more to save more money which gets exhausting and cuts into my social life, but I wouldn’t even be able to go to college without this job so I have to keep working.

After going back and forth with the financial aid office (who were not given information about the Excelsior Scholarship) and the Excelsior Scholarship office for two weeks I thought I wouldn’t be able to attend college again and I would have to stay home to work. Luckily I was able to take out a loan and work some more with the financial aid office and dip into my savings account. Life isn’t easy, people have to make sacrifices and work hard, but college is about getting integrated into adult life slowly, not getting thrown in and suffering all the way through.

Monique Ritchie, Queensborough Community College

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South African leader Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon in which you can use to change the world”. Since I started my education at Queensborough Community College in Fall 2016, I’ve realized my growth and the importance of having a college degree. In the future, I would like to become an attorney, to advocate justice for those less fortunate.

Currently, I’m enrolled in the ASAP program and I am a TAP and Pell recipient. I could not imagine coming to school without financial aid and opportunity programs that help support and pay for my schooling. Without these I would probably be more focused on working long hours to pay off tuition, than on classes and experiences that would be beneficial to my career later on. I want tuition hikes to be ended and higher education in New York to be fully funded so everyone will have the chance to get a fair education and further themselves like I am.

Rachael Adeloye, College of Staten Island

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I am a sophomore and currently a Liberal Arts major but I plan to become a police officer after I graduate.  I’ve worked with the police for the last two years during the summer and it’s been a real eye opener for me because I barely see any black female police officers there, and that’s something I’d like to change.

Unfortunately, my plans suffered a setback this year.  My GPA is too low to receive financial aid this semester, including the Excelsior Scholarship, but past semesters I did receive aid.   Without the aid my family and I have been struggling to find a way to pay for school out of pocket.  We now are living paycheck to paycheck, and even though there are a lot of things we would like to do, due to lack of funds we can no longer do them.

As a person who was not born in this country, I feel like the system is not set up in a way that enables me to succeed.  For example, I’m doing poorly in my English 151 class and my professor tells me I don’t know how to write to an American standard, but then he doesn’t have the time to teach me how to correct it.  A fully funded CUNY would mean that professors would be able to spend more time with each student, more student services would be available to help students like me improve skills like writing, and I could commit to being a full-time student without burdening myself or my family.

Clark Adomaitis, CUNY City College

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I am a sophomore. My major is Economics with a concentration in Business Administration and Management. I

hope to one day become an activist focused on environmental inefficiency and to also teach a college poet

ry class on rap. Currently, my parents pay for my tuition, as well as the costs to dorm on campus. I do not qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship, TAP, or Pell Grants, so the full burden of my college education falls on my parents and students loans. I

believe in a fully funded CUNY system so that every student can attain the high quality education they deserve. With a fully funded CUNY, students like myself will no longer have to struggle financially and can fully focus on our future.

Winnie Lei, City College

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I am a freshman at CUNY City College. My major is currently undeclared but I am exploring my options by taking a diverse range of classes. I do not have a job but would like to get one in the future to support my daily needs. Due to my parents’ income, I do not qualify for financial assistance and do not receive any TAP or Pell Grants. Although CUNY’s tuition is lower than other schools, my parents have to pay all the school costs for both my brother and I, which places a significant burden on their shoulders. I do not qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship because my household income is slightly above the limit. I am able to pay for textbooks and weekly meals but the costs continuously add up. I am only a freshman so I have three more years of tuition, textbooks, and other costs left to pay in order to continue my higher education. As a result, my biggest challenge is not my classes, but being able to pay for the classes I need in order to graduate.