I am Sociology with a concentration in Criminology and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Major. I am a Senior at SUNY New Paltz. I am not yet sure what I will be doing after graduation. I will likely be moving back home with my parents and working on Long Island in order to save money/plan for the future. I am paying for school through loans. I work about 34 hours a week between my two paid jobs. I also have an unpaid internship.
I pay for books myself or share the cost/book with a classmate.
I don’t receive SNAP or work study. Although I have worked throughout all four years of college, it is likely that I will have very little saved upon graduation as I have to spend my money on costs like groceries and rent.
If I did not receive financial aid, I would be taking out more loans and therefore graduate with even worse debt than I will already be facing.
Since I am a transfer student, a large sum of credits from my former university were not accepted at SUNY New Paltz. I did not think I would be able to graduate on time but am doing so by taking 18-credit course loads and enrolling in summer and winter classes that are not covered by financial aid.
We need fully funded SUNYs and CUNYs because education should be treated as a right, not a privilege. It is unacceptable that cuts are being made to opportunity programs that assist students who need the most support. More than that, it is disheartening that students like myself have to work multiple jobs on top of taking classes and being involved in our campus communities. We are over-worked, lack sleep and sometimes malnourished. Although I am extraordinarily busy, I make time for NYPIRG in order to advocate for things like fully-funded higher education and voter rights with the hope that generations to come don’t have to face the same struggles as myself and many of my peers. My story is not unique and absolutely not the worst of the pack. There are students who are responsible for going to school, paying for their livelihood (rent, groceries, medicine, etc.) who are also responsible for supporting their families at home, whether it be parents, siblings or children, etcetera. Fully-funded SUNYs and CUNYs would alleviate the stressors that cause many students to drop-out of college. They would likely also increase enrollment rates, as money and/or lack of access to financial aid is one of the major reasons people choose not to go to college. Education is a right! And we will continue to fight, fight, fight!
My biggest challenge as a SUNY student has been identifying my priorities and how to spend my time. As previously mentioned, I work two jobs and have an on-campus internship. I am also a member of four organizations on campus and take a full course load. It is difficult to maintain a positive attitude and give my 100% in all sectors of my life. I rarely have time for the “self-care,” or even sleep, that administrators advocate for. I wholeheartedly disagree with the politicians who regard my generation as a bunch of lazy complainers. My classmates, co-workers, and the individuals in my clubs are some of the most hardworking students and activists that I have ever met. It is unfair that we have to choose between being advocates for the things that will alleviate our stressors, doing homework, going to work or sleeping. I think I speak for many when saying that it is beyond difficult to delineate which of the aforementioned obligations “should” be prioritized. H