I am a Sophomore at Hunter College. I am a political science major and I hope to become a lawyer when I graduate. I was inspired to pursue this major when I met a lawyer during career day in middle school who had studied the same thing. She seemed very educated and passionate and I knew I wanted to follow in the same footsteps. I have received TAP and I think the recent improvements were very helpful. Part time TAP now receives more funding and students can feel less pressure when making decisions on whether to go to school or to go college. Thankfully, I have not had any big challenges paying for colleges. Upon finding out there was a portion of my tuition that was not covered this semester, I promptly filled some forms with the VA and their military assisted programs to cover the balance. Between the military program, TAP, Pell and Excelsior all of my tuition and other expenses have been covered thankfully and I have not had to take out loans. The only issues I have faced with finding professors is with certain prerequisites only being offered in the fall. This was a little confusing because then I had to plan in advance of what classes I think I could take each semester to graduate on time.
My experience, especially as a freshman, was not great. I was told a lot of false information about having to take the classes chosen for you when you first enter and about not being able to drop them. I had an advisor who did not really assist me but instead told me to use DegreeWorks. I emailed her with questions and till this day never received a response. Now that I am a sophomore, I think I am more accustomed to the system and therefore need less advising. DegreeWorks and I are now best friends and when I have any large questions, I can ask a professor in the department I am wondering about. Professors and general advisors have been more helpful than the advisor I was assigned.
I am a double major in English and Professional Writing. I transferred to SUNY Cortland in Fall 2020, and am on my last semester. Why Cortland? I’m a homebody and wanted to be able to afford to travel home often. My credits from community college would also transfer well if I picked a SUNY school. Throughout five and a half years of college, I have been able to receive FAFSA, TAP, and Pell Grants. My mom has taken out “Parent Plus” loans for me, and I have taken out loans myself. I’ve had to pay out of pocket a couple semesters to cover the last bit that the government wouldn’t.
Though I have been thankful to not pay as much, I’m still worried about college tuition. As I’ve heard many say, college feels like a scam. You are to pay all this money, but you are not always guaranteed a full-time job right after graduating. You are, however, guaranteed a large sum of student debt. I cannot say I completely disagree. College is highly beneficial in that you grow as a person in more ways than you can count. Yet, it doesn’t always seem worth the money. I’ve seen people graduate, only to find any part-time job that can guarantee them enough to pay off their debt and bills each month.
What’s one thing that can change? The requirements of the Excelsior Scholarship. This is a program that seems reasonable, receiving tuition-free semesters as long as you work in the state for as long as you participate in the program. What the application doesn’t tell you is if you take any time off from school in the time you are completing your degree, you are not eligible. The Excelsior Scholarship came out when I was about to be done with community college. I took a gap year between that and Cortland, to make sure I was pursuing what I genuinely wanted to. I also needed to save up money and secure a more reliable form of transportation. When I started in Cortland, I applied to this program but was denied because I had a break between semesters. It was disheartening, as I knew I’d be a full-time student for the rest of my college career and would really benefit from this program.
I can only hope that the expensive education I have, and will continue, to pay for, pays off. There is still much to do to secure better higher education for all. With this change will come more educated and caring individuals that can have brighter futures, changing the world for the better one degree at a time.
I am a Business Management student. This is my last semester at BMCC. I will continue my education to get my bachelor’s degree. I live off campus with my parents. I have received FAFSA and TAP before. It helped me to pay for tuition and books. But I wish that college was free because it’s too expensive. Tuition, textbooks, and transportation makes it expensive. With all these expenses not everyone can afford it. If you were to take less than 4 classes, you don’t get financial aid. I would like FAFSA and TAP to change that so part time students can be eligible for financial aid. The non-eligible for part time students affected me. This semester I took 3 classes to finish my associate degree. I didn’t get FAFSA or TAP to cover the tuition, textbooks, and transportation. I had to pay out of my pocket which was hard for me. As a result of this, I was tight on money. If FAFSA and TAP were provided for part time student. I could have been stress free.
Azania “Sammie” Maitland is a Junior at Hunter College who majors in Political Science and Minors in Legal Studies. After completing her undergraduate studies she will enter graduate school to study Public Policy. Upon completing her education she intends to begin a career in public service because she wants to help make the world a better place. She pays for school with a mix of TAP, Pell grants, and loans. She takes a part-time course load to balance focusing on her studies and community advocacy – which means she receives less aid and has to take out more loans to make up the difference. She has some concerns about paying back loans once she fully completes her education, but hopes that tax credits or that other avenues for student debt relief will be made available in New York State.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.