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.
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.
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.
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.
I am a senior at Brooklyn College. I am a Political Science major. I plan on going to Law school after obtaining my bachelor’s degree to be a criminal defense attorney. When there, I want to create my own version of the innocence project. Khalif Browder’s story definitely helped me in deciding what I really wanted to do. The fact that someone who was innocent could spend 2 years in prison for allegedly stealing a backpack was beyond me. The psychological and physical abuse that he endured within the two years was inhumane. I think that he is a prime example of how the criminal justice system fails us all the time.
I currently receive both TAP and Pell to pursue my studies. I’m having trouble graduating on time because I cannot afford summer classes. I wish that TAP would cover summer sessions so that I wouldn’t fall behind.
I am a senior at SUNY New Paltz, majoring in English and Journalism. I decided to go to a state school because it would be cheaper than any other on-campus experience I could have. Despite this, I’m still going to be in debt for quite a long time after I graduate. It’s scary to think about, especially now with having to enter the work world after a catastrophic event like the COVID-19 pandemic. Job opportunities will be scarce and my debt will only grow the longer it doesn’t get paid off.
It is vital that we close the TAP gap, expand the excelsior scholarship, and increase state funding for SUNY/CUNY. The financial burden of tuition costs does not belong on the backs of students. Affordable higher education is essential to the future success and economic wealth of New York State.
I’m a first-year student majoring in criminal justice. After obtaining my bachelors I want to go to law school and become a criminal lawyer or a human rights lawyer. I receive TAP and a Pell Grant along with financial aid. My tuition is covered.
Unfortunately I do not have my own advisor. I have an opportunity to join the BLA program at my college but I fear that if I join BLA I will not be able to get any help from other programs such as ASAP. College textbooks, lunch, and transportation are expenses outside of tuition. I was looking for a job but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been made difficult to find a job and register for the upcoming semesters’ classes. My family and I are immigrants from Italy. Nobody in my family is working right now because of the pandemic. If I don’t get a STEM waiver, I will not be able to afford summer or winter courses. I am fortunate that I am able to attend college and receive an education that I can be proud of.
Personally I’m a very determined student. Being an immigrant pushes me to achieve unimaginable things such as getting a high school diploma in one year and doing 4 years’ worth of high school material by going to Saturday classes and waking up very early. I make sure that I am still on track even now because I’m that determined. We need a fully-funded CUNY because we are very motivated and dedicated students. If CUNY were to be fully funded, we would have better infrastructure that would allow us to get to class on time, instead of taking detours, and the staff we need to succeed.
I am majoring in Sociology and pursuing a certificate in Public Policy at Hunter College. This is my last semester. I just found out that I got accepted into graduate school in Spain where I will be getting a Masters in Education. I plan on being a teacher for at least the next few years after that. I am also considering going to law school eventually, but that would be many years from now. The reason that I chose this program is because if I work at a school, my tuition fees get waived. I wish I could say the same for my time at Hunter. I am paying for my education at Hunter College with a few different merit scholarships, both private and through my program at Hunter, without which I would not be able to attend school or I would have to make the difficult decision to take out a massive loan. The rest is covered with a combination of mine and my mother’s savings. To be able to be in the position to do this is an immense privilege that I do not take lightly. Because I am from New Jersey I do not qualify for TAP, Pell, or the Excelsior Scholarship. In order to pay for textbooks, food, rent, and a MetroCard I have been working part-time every semester and full time during summer and winter breaks. I wish that I was able to qualify for these types of financial aid because it would take away the stress of a huge financial burden for me and my family. I would have more time to not worry about working and actually have moments for rest and passion projects.
I talk to students all the time, and the biggest barriers to education that I hear every day are always finances – CUNY is an institution built for working-class people, but the rising cost of tuition is making it less and less accessible. Every semester more and more of my friends have to drop out because they can no longer afford the cost of attendance. We need a free and fully funded CUNY so that every student has the opportunity to determine their own destiny, regardless of their financial status. The ability to pursue education is a human right and must be regarded as such. I wish that the state saw CUNY for the potential it has to be an engine of equity for all students, as well as an investment in the future of our economy and society as a whole.
I am a freshman at Hunter College currently studying Biology. After college, I plan on going to medical school to further my education. I do not pay for school on my own, I receive financial aid. I receive TAP, Pell, and am a part of the SEEK opportunity program. I pay for my textbooks with the money I receive from Seek. I do not work but am trying to find a job to help support my family with money. I do not receive SNAP or work-study and pay for food with my SEEK checks and other financial aid. If I did not receive financial aid, I would have to resort to taking out a loan or finding a job so that I can make my own money. I am somewhat concerned about graduating on time, because I might not be able to complete all of my prerequisites for my major in time.
We need a fully-funded CUNY for low-income students who are not in any opportunity programs like SEEK or EOP and have to depend on other means such as working or work-study to pay for college. Many students could benefit from increased investment. Too many students have to rely on balancing jobs, school, and loans.
I’m a junior majoring in Sociology. My future plans include graduate school to become a clinical therapist. I value all the resources available to be able to gain the skills necessary to further my career.
I am able to attend college through financial aid, including TAP and a Pell grant. I’m a first generation student, so furthering my education is more of a community achievement than anything else. Although I receive financial aid I have sought part-time employment to aid with my many expenses i.e food, bills, clothes, etc. I was unable, however, due to my heavy class load of 5 classes per semester. This class load is essential in order to receive the TAP and Pell grants which cap after four years.
A fully funded CUNY is fundamental to not only the success of thousands of students but the economy as a whole.