Posts Tagged ‘TAP’

Sajina Shrestha, City College of NY

Sajina is a senior at the City College of New York, majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Journalism. After graduating, she hopes to be a journalist in New York. Sajina receives both TAP and Pell but the award amount has been decreasing every year while the tuition is also increasing. Although her financial aid pays for most of her tuition, she has to rely on her Fellowship awards and pay out of pocket for the rest of the tuition. What makes it even harder to pay or save up for tuition is that her FAFSA never has a clear number of how much she’ll be expected to pay. Inconsistency with FAFSA is a common occurrence among college students and it can be very frustrating to deal with when you don’t know how much to save up. Although her parents also help her pay her tuition, it is becoming difficult for them to pay the increasing cost every year. With increasing tuition costs and decreased award sizes causing financial strains, Sajina has to work while attending classes to stay afloat. With more CUNY funding, Sajina hopes that tuition costs will be lowered and award sizes will be increased.

Lorna Duran, Hunter College

My name is Lorna Duran and I am a Junior at Hunter. I don’t receive any financial aid, so my tuition is covered by my parents who pay out of pocket. I have consistently applied for federal tuition help, but I never meet the requirements. My father, a teacher, makes slightly more than NYS Taxable Income Limit and because of this, I have never been eligible for TAP. The reality is that I am part of a single-income family in one of the most expensive cities around the world, I cannot truly afford tuition. On top of the thousands of dollars spent on tuition, every semester I spend about $500-$800 on expensive textbooks and access codes. Additionally, I also have to pay for my commuting expenses which come out to a couple of hundred dollars a year. 

Every semester when I get that email that tuition is due, I stress out because I know my parents will have to find that money one way or another. If my family has an emergency towards the end of the semester, my father has to carefully consider how he will pay my $3,465 dollar tuition. I wish that there were more funding opportunities for students like me. I shouldn’t have to worry about paying for tuition, and how I will afford my textbooks.

Sabrina Maharaj, Borough Manhattan Community College

MY name is Sabrina Maharaj and it is my fourth year studying at BMCC. My major is business management and when I graduate BMCC my goal is to work for a business firm. I pay for college through the DISCOVERY program and TAP assistance. My first year of college I had to pay for my tuition out of pocket because I didn’t fill out the correct financial aid forms in time. Because of the confusing and overwhelming forms to fill out for financial aid, my brother had to pay for my tuition out of pocket for me that semester.

Since receiving financial aid, the DISCOVERY program has been very helpful for me to help cover the costs of college. It helps pay for most costs associated with college, except I still have to pay for my transportation costs. I would not be able to afford college if it were not for the DISCOVERY and TAP programs that help me cover the costs. I would have had to get a full time job and I know from experience that juggling both a job and classes makes both very difficult.

Even though I receive financial aid I still did get a job to help my parents pay for the mortgage and other household bills. I would not have been able to afford tuition while also helping my parents out. In 2018 I got a job at the airport as a cashier at a travel sales store. I was waking up at 3:30 in the morning to catch the bus to JFK for my 6am shift. I worked 4 times a week, working 36 hours weekly. Eventually, I had to take a break from classes because it was too much doing both work and school at the same time. During COVID my job laid me off and then they would not rehire me because they found out I was back at school. This makes it very difficult to help pay for costs of living and help my parents with the bills. Tuition needs to be free and there needs to be more financial assistance to college students and their families. 

Abram Morris, City College of NY

Abram is a junior at the City College of New York pursuing a degree in Architecture. After he graduates, he wants to work on municipal buildings and urban planning. Although Abram receives TAP and Pell, it is not enough to cover his entire tuition. He mostly relies on his Macaulay honors awards and his grandmother to pay his remaining tuition. His scholarship money only covers 70% of his tuition and the rest is paid out of pocket. Although paying off his tuition is not a big challenge, he hopes that with more CUNY funding, he can get the resources to pay for his housing expenses.

Angela Shin, Hunter College

I am a senior attending Hunter College. Thankfully, I was eligible for FAFSA and TAP which paid for my college tuition as well as provided me with money for transportation and book fees. However, not everyone is lucky enough to get their tuition paid for. I remember hearing the sad news about people around me not being able to go to their dream college or college at all due to the expensive and constantly rising tuition that could not be easily paid. Not everyone had parents who saved up money for their children’s tuition or had extra money to pay for college. To some students and families, it was already hard to pay rent, phone bills, Wi-Fi bills, or buy food to feed their families. Some of these students could not do loans to create more debt which will burden them more or were not eligible for tuition assistance. I find it so sad that there are people out there that had to give up their dreams, passions, and education due to the cost of tuition. People should not be expected to pay to learn and if they were to pay, it should not cost this much. It is unbelievable that one of the highest debts in America is from student loans. 

Although I am grateful to get tuition assistance, I worry that one mistake will take away my financial aid such as not doing well in school, failing a class, or in this case, an error made by the system. I remember being a freshman in college and not knowing how college and financial aid worked. I had filled out FAFSA and TAP but I did not receive my financial aid until the end of the semester. After repeatedly going to the Financial aid and Bursar offices at my school, I found out that due to a mistake made by the system, I could not receive my financial aid. They had never informed me of this issue and it was not until I fixed it that I received financial aid. Due to my tuition being paid late that semester, I had to pay a few hundred dollars out of my own pocket to pay for late fees, textbooks, transportation costs, and etc. I wish there were more things being done to help students feel at ease when receiving financial aid. I think of the many students out there that must have gone through the same problem as me. 

Like many of the students, I also help pay for phone bills, water bills, Wi-Fi bills, and etc. Tuition, textbook fees, and transportation are not the only things being paid for with the help of financial aid. To make it worse, transportation fees cost a lot and with things being a one tap system, I cannot save money on transportation fees. I worry that the MTA will increase the price again one day which will become very troubling to me. I want to continue studying psychology so I can one day use my knowledge to help people out. To do so, I will be staying in college for a few more semesters to study. I worry about the cost of tuition as financial aid will not cover me the whole time. I am looking for jobs and have been applying to scholarships to help with my tuition. Therefore, I wish the people in charge of higher education realize that many students out there are worrying about paying for their tuition on top of working hard to study. I hope that they can work more on the funding and make it more accessible to other people who wish to have the opportunity to go to college. 

Daniela Medina, City College of NY

Daniela is a freshman at the City College of New York pursuing a degree in Psychology. She hopes to become a psychiatrist after she graduates so she can address the taboos of mental health in her culture and help vulnerable people. Although Daniela is working hard to get her degree, limited financial aid and lack of communications with financial aid advisors is making it hard for her to stay focused. She receives TAP but it is not enough to cover all her expenses, leaving her to pay most of her tuition out of pocket. Daniela’s mother helps her pay her tuition but that is becoming hard since she has 2 younger siblings she also needs to provide for. Daniela also has to dorm on campus since her parents live far from CCNY, and that increases the cost of going to college significantly. To make matters worse, financial aid advisors don’t always answer Daniela’s questions about FAFSA or financial aid packets, making it harder to plan how she will pay her tuition. She has recently applied for loans and is looking to work to pay for her college education.

Jasmine Augustus, Borough of Manhattan Community College

I am the second person in my family to be attending college in America, in New-York as well. I had the opportunity a year after my high school graduation to get admitted into The Borough of Manhattan Community College to study Business Management. It was a new world for me, I took my two very first semesters at the end of 2014 Fall semester, and into the start of 2015 Fall semester. I had to failed 5 out of 8 classes horribly. My advisor, or what I could call my advisor at the time had poorly given me class that were much more difficult to manage as a freshmen and also told me to take five of those hard courses to improve my chance of graduating on time. I did, but I did not do well at all, and as a student who did not easily give in and accept failure, it was hard to see those failing grades, I had to take those classes over and I was no longer a fan of getting advised for my class. I learned from another student how to access my Degreeworks that shows us our course requirements and I figured out what I could handle and what I couldn’t, but I had to take a year off of school immediately after my second semester, because it had turned out that my financial aid had only paid for half of my tuition because of a missing New-York resident document that I had not been notified that I needed and I had a debt of two thousand plus dollars to pay off. For the next year I took my time to pay it off as I got a job that helped me out, at the time the pay was 7.50 an hour, and every second week of a month that paycheck went to the debt collectors who had called me every two weeks a month religiously for a whole year. He was quite nice, but it was a sad time for me as I could not continue my education.

I finally managed to return to school for the fall of 2016 and passed every class with flying colors, during the worst black Friday ever. I hadn’t taken advice on time or early after my first horrible experience with them, I had waited until the day before school each semester up until 2018 when my professors from my own degree could finally advise me. It went over much better and I took a light workload of three to two classes since I kept working and could not commit to being full time anymore, the price of living was defeating me and I was quite the hard worker so I juggled work and school while finally having the burden of paying for school off my back as I then received full Financial aid. I was thankful that I never took out a loan towards college, but it was tempting.

For me, this degree means that I was strong enough, determined enough and driven enough to push myself no matter the hardships and costly charges and rapid worry that swam through me on a daily basis and finally made it to the finish line. I want to show that I wouldn’t give up, that this degree for me will be an achievement that I worked my hardest for and would help me get somewhere better even though I’m not yet certain as to where yet. My struggles have definitely put off my graduation three years longer than it had to, and the pandemic coming into the picture also pushed it back another semester, but I truly do intent to fight until I can hold my degree in my hand. I would not disappoint my family or myself, I worked too hard for this.

Seemzehra Zaidi , Queensborough Community College

I am a sophomore at Queensborough Community College majoring in sociology. I am graduating after the summer semester 2021 and have applied to Hunter College – Silberman School of Social Work. I want to be a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). I am 31 years old, and I was not able to go to College after graduating high school in 2007. I was one of the many students who was undocumented and was not able to afford going to college. I was not able to get any aid to pursue an education after High school, and it was also very difficult because I had to also work to support my family. I was the eldest of 3 and came to The United States when I was 9.


In 2012 when President Obama passed the Dreamer’s Act. I filed for D.A.C.A and a year later in 2013 I was able to work in the country legally and support my family with a decent paying job. Even after receiving D.A.C.A I was not able to go to school. Because D.A.C.A does not aid students with any financial support. I just had to keep working to support my family because even though I received D.A.C.A my parents did not. So, the responsibility lied heavily on me.


I met my husband in 2013 and we dated for 5 years, before getting married in 2018. He is an American citizen, and I got my Green Card a year after we got married. I applied to Queensborough Community College on my 30-birthday rewarding myself with progressing my education, trying to achieve my goals. I thought it would be easier now paying for school and I would qualify for getting financial aid but that was definitely not the case. I applied for FAFSA and was denied because now together my husband and I made over the threshold amount to receive financial aid. At this time, I was still working trying to support my family.


Soon after in 2020 the pandemic hit, I lost my job. My husband and I had some savings which are getting used to pay for school and textbooks. FAFSA still will not approve me for any aid, since they use taxes from years prior to see if you qualify. I have made numerous attempts to apply to the Excelsior Scholarship, TAP and PELL for assistance but got denied yet again. My husband works, and I go to school. It has been really tough, but we make it work. We do not have any children; I am an excellent student and have been on the dean’s list since I started college. I was not even aware of being on the Dean’s list, till I saw my transcript. I then proceeded to ask my advisor if that shows for anything, and his answer was “Unfortunately, that doesn’t do much but congratulations”.
Fortunately, I am not below the poverty line but living in New York and paying high prices for everything means paying for college has not gotten any easier. It has been a really long journey for me to achieve my goals. We need a fully funded CUNY because there are students like me who are still stuck in limbo. First, I was undocumented I couldn’t afford tuition because of no tuition assistance and I had to take care of my family, then I was approved for D.A.C.A still couldn’t afford school because D.A.C.A does not make you eligible for any financial assistance, it just makes you legal so you can pay taxes and continue to work. When I received my green card, I was still left out with any financial support because the combined income was over the threshold.


There are millions of me out there, who would like to pursue their dreams but are not able to because of finances. Having a fully funded CUNY would help New Yorkers like me, finish school, get a decent job so we are not stuck in limbo when it comes to our future. I am fortunate enough that I have a partner who supports me and my dreams. But most do not, and a Fully funded CUNY would really help those who have struggled and are struggling to get a higher education to pursue their goals and dreams.

Mohima Bahar, Brooklyn College

I am a dual major in Children and Youth Studies and Political Science. I hope to be an advocate and fight for matters that are important to me. I have decided to pursue Children and Youth Studies because there are many children in Bangladesh, my native country that continue to suffer with little to no voice. I am fortunate enough to come to the United States and pursue education. But many children around the world are not as lucky. I hope to make a change in how children are viewed and treated in society. Thus, I decided to major in Political Science also, because in order to make a change I need to have the power to influence or be part of policymaking such as through activism. 

I receive Pell, TAP, and I also work to put myself through school. The financial aid awards covered my higher education costs like tuition, textbooks. But it definitely does not cover my food, rent, and other living expenses. I work to cover my living expenses such as food and transportation. I have one job and I work 20 hours a week. It is hard to pay for commuting while paying tuition so I have to work. I would like to see the state support students with the other costs associated with college that people often forget about. 

Hifza Hameed, Brooklyn College

I am a freshman at Brooklyn College. I’m currently undecided. But I hope to major in something that will guarantee a job as soon as possible, so I’ll probably major in something STEM-related. I always knew I had to study and get a higher education so I could be financially independent, move out, and live my life on my own terms. 

I currently receive a Pell Grant and TAP. I am the first woman in my family to go to college. I hate the anxiety of filling out my FAFSA when I don’t know how much money I’ll receive. I don’t know why I received less money this year too. The financial aid I receive covers my tuition, textbooks and lab fees. But it does not cover rent, food, and living expenses. I don’t have a job right now but I am looking for one so that I can cover the added expenses of college that people don’t normally consider. I’d never be able to pay rent and pay tuition at the same time. That’s why I still live with my family. TAP should be expanded so that students can better focus on their studies and worry less about the added expenses of education.