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Posts Tagged ‘TAP’

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.

David Paiz-Torres, Nassau Community College

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To pay for my education, I get a Pell Grant and a TAP Grant from New York. Usually, I would pay for books with my book voucher, but this year I couldn’t because tuition went up. The way the voucher works is that I would need to have at least $100 more in financial aid than tuition costs, which due to tuition hikes at Nassau Community College did not happen this semester. Instead, I had to use a credit card and some money that I had left over from my summer job to pay for my schoolbooks this semester. I plan on graduating Nassau Community College, and moving on to get my Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Since I want to be a teacher, I will need to follow that with my Master’s in teaching which only adds to the costs I will have to pay. The cost of attending a 4 year school are very concerning for me, because I know I will have to take out student loans. I’m worried that by the time I would be eligible for loan forgiveness programs; these programs would have been dismantled. Any cuts to these programs would be putting my future at risk. Here in New York, we need to increase funding for SUNY and CUNY schools so professors and academic programs can be properly paid for and so electricity and other utility bills aren’t put on the backs of students. Our state leaders can definitely do a better job in terms of funding our schools.

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, 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 2nd 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 finance 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.

 

Maria Obmachkina, Hunter College

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I am studying psychology.  I receive the Pell Grant and TAP.  I had to drop chemistry because it was so hard and I ended up becoming part time that semester.  It disqualified me from TAP mid semester, which was really stressful.  Another semester, I dropped Russian and the same thing happened.  If I didn’t receive financial aid at all during college I would be in a lot of debt, probably have a mental breakdown. 

I work as a home attendant 20 hours a week.  I used to do tutoring.  I pay for food out of pocket.  I live with my grandma and we have SNAP.  When I first got into school it was hard to register for the courses I needed.  If college was free it would mobilize and expand people.  People would have more time.  It would help people in need that can barely survive.  Transportation is the biggest challenge for me as a student.  It takes me 2 hours each way.  Also mental health.  There needs to be better mental health services and services for non traditional students. 

 

 

Emanuel Bolano, Hunter College

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I am a Sophomore Computer Science major. I qualify for TAP and Pell, which are not offered in the summer or winter.  I’m constantly worried about failing a course that I need in order to continue on track with my major and graduate on time. 

I don’t get financial aid in the winter.  This is very stressful.  I missed the application process for a program like SEEK that offers priority registration and textbooks.  I don’t have a job.  My parents give me money and I use money saved from my summer job for food.  If I didn’t receive financial aid I’d have to take out a loan. 

My biggest challenge is focusing academically and trying to get by on the money I have.  It’s very difficult to buy food on the upper east side.