Posts Tagged ‘transit’

Nathan Lloyd, Queensborough Community College

Currently, I am in my last semester at Queensborough Community College where I am working on an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice. After I graduate from QCC my plan is to move on to a 4 year degree at John Jay. I am also a full-time student so I have to take 13-14 credits each semester. I am an ASAP student, which pays for a multitude of expenses like my Metro card, Textbooks, and part of my tuition. The rest of tuition gets covered by FAFSA and TAP. I don’t work and I wanted to when I applied for federal work study but I was denied because I already “met” financial needs. I pay for my food out of pocket or I would take food from home.

If I didn’t receive financial aid I probably wouldn’t have the chance to gain a place in the professional workforce or acquire new skills needed for my personal and professional development. I am very concerned about graduating on time because that is my time that I am dedicating to earning this degree and I want it to be maximized and put to good use with no impediments.

It still amazes me that CUNY used to be a free institution but now we have to pay for our future and our success. We have to constantly be worried about certain programs being cut like ASAP or SEEK. I come from a single parent household where my mother has to hold down two jobs just to support my family. Education has been a big staple in my household as well because not a lot of people get to go to college or take advantage of the opportunities given. This is why we need a fully funded CUNY because students like me. It would be very beneficial to raise efforts in doubling the Pell grants because that would allow for more students of color like myself to be able to enroll in college and diversify admissions as well as the workforce. We wouldn’t be discouraged to take a stand.

Olivia Sudol, City College of New York

A lot of people fail to consider how financial aid needs to cover more than just tuition. The living expenses associated with getting a college education quickly add up and end up costing students thousands of dollars on necessities — mandatory expenses that not everyone can afford. Even though I was lucky enough to get financial assistance to afford my tuition, like many other students, I’m left responsible for hundreds of dollars in books and transportation each semester as well as thousands of dollars for housing. 

I lived on campus at City College when COVID-19 hit; we were told we would receive partial refunds for leaving our leases early but we only received this money six months later. Additionally, many students had already signed lease agreements for the Fall 2020 semester, and the only financial solution for them was to pay $1000 to terminate that lease or be held responsible for the full $12-18 thousand dollars. Most students pay for dorming with their finances and the refunds could have had a significant impact on students who lost income due to the pandemic. In a twisted way, COVID-19 has made college more affordable for me by reducing the cost of transportation to campus and allowing me to live with my parents instead of paying for housing. It’s time politicians in Albany acknowledge the external costs of higher education.

Ankush Gaba, Queensborough Community College

I am studying Business Administration at Queensborough Community College, and I want to pursue accounting in the future. This is my second year, and I am graduating in Fall 2020. I’m currently in ASAP and they help cover some expenses and books, but I don’t receive any financial aid and pay out of pocket for tuition during the summer or winter sessions. Because of COVID-19 I haven’t been able to work for a month, but I still have to pay off my bills and help support my family. 

I am an immigrant. The only way I can pay for this college is by working and working too much. I have to deal with my travel expenses, meals, and then my tuition or textbook expenses. I work three jobs to get myself going and also help my family financially too as we are here to make our future. A fully funded CUNY would take a big load of stress off of me and my family, and would especially help immigrant families who are trying to save as much as they can to have a secure and better future. 

Being QCC’s Student Government President I think if people didn’t have to worry about paying for college, they could have more time to study or get involved with campus life and opportunities, rather than running to work right after class.

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. 

Ava Mayer, Pratt Institute

I love Pratt, but sometimes I feel frustrated that the institution doesn’t do a better job accommodating the financial needs of students. I’m commuting from Astoria, Queens to my classes because of the cost of housing here at Pratt. It was also really tough getting a work-study position. A lot of my friends weren’t able to either, and I think there should be more jobs available on campus. It’s difficult enough having to work while being a student, and I think Pratt could do a better job acknowledging that and supporting initiatives that help them. If there were a better work-study program, I would more easily be able to support myself through school.

Jennifer Martinez, Borough of Manhattan Community College

My major is criminal justice. My career aspirations are mostly getting to help others through my work as not just a police officer but a homicide detective. I haven’t taken out a loan to pay for school and I am not currently employed. I expect to graduate from BMCC in the year of 2021, however with the current pandemic we are dealing with I’m afraid I will not graduate in time. I am struggling a little even if I have an advisor because of the way things are right now and the general situation.

Mental health care is highly important for times such as this, where the majority of people are being negatively affected. I personally never needed any help, however when it comes to assignments and due dates it is quite stressful having to complete school work at the same time. I did not receive any financial aid, so besides school expenses, I had to pay for transportation.

My biggest academic goal is to pass my quizzes by improving my time management. There were times where I had to buy some textbooks, the most expensive I bought was used but still paid in the 150-200 dollars range. Unfortunately, the school frequently has malfunctions with the elevators escalators but they are repaired somewhat quickly and are working normally.

A fully funded school can be seen as many different things. I personally don’t know what it will turn out to look like. It’s only been my first semester in college but, hopefully, it will look nicer and safe for everybody.

Kiara Lo Coco, Borough of Manhattan Community College

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.

Isra Tahir, Brooklyn College

I am a sophomore at Brooklyn College. Before this semester began, my FAFSA was processed a little later than planned because I needed to obtain additional documents to complete my application. The semester began and I had an outstanding balance due, since my FAFSA had not been processed. I was told that I must start a payment plan to prevent the cancellation of my classes and that I would get my money back after I received financial aid. So I started a payment plan, confident that I would eventually get my money back. Over two months, I paid about half of my tuition out of pocket.

In addition to tuition payments, I used my own money to pay for textbooks and homework—some classes require the purchase of an online program to gain access to do my homework assignments. Without starting the payment plan, I could not do my homework, ultimately affecting my grade. After paying for all of this, I did not have much left in my bank account and could not afford to pay for my commute to school or lunch after a long day of classes. When my financial aid finally came in, I found out that it was only going to cover half of my tuition, and I would not get reimbursed for the money I had already given. It was too late.

I had to continue this semester with almost no money in my account. Even though financial aid covered half of my tuition, I still have to pay a few hundred dollars on top of that. I started doing online jobs such as Rev which involves transcribing audio. However, these online jobs can only help me pay for my commute which involves an express bus and a train ride. It is exhausting to balance school and work. On top of that, I have to travel two hours to get to school and back; that’s four hours commuting in a day.

Fortunately, I live with my parents so I do not have to pay rent or buy all of my food. My family is currently going through some tough financial times, so at first I refrained from telling my parents about what was going on. After I found out that I wasn’t getting my money back, I told them, and it became an additional financial burden to them.

Right now, I am undeclared, but I’m thinking of majoring in Chemistry. After I receive my Bachelor’s degree, I want to go to medical school so I can become a pediatrician. It’s something I’m really passionate about. I think I will be able to graduate on time because now I know what I need to accomplish and am better prepared. It’s just going to be a lot of work. The reality is that if I did not get at least half of my tuition covered, I would not have been able to continue this semester, and my college career would have been put on hold.

Omar Andron, City College of NY

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I’m a senior majoring in political science. After graduating, I want to work in public policy. I’m graduating on time because I cannot afford not to. Because I’m a transfer student from Russia, I don’t have any financial aid and have to pay more than the average student. My FAFSA application was not accepted because I already have a degree from Syria.

Compared to private schools, CUNY is cheaper but a diploma from a private college comes with prestige. I’m the first person in my family to go to college and the first to not work a blue-collar job. I pay for school, rent, food, transportation, books, and support my family back home in Turkey.

I’m currently in debt over $28,000 because I needed help to pay for everything because I can’t work a full-time job since I have been in school for the past 7 years. I receive Medicare from the State of New York, but the process itself is very difficult and tedious.

We need a fully funded and free CUNY because all public universities should be truly public. The moment you put a price tag on a public service, it’s no longer for everyone. It’s now only for those who can afford it!

Also, the rising tuition should be alarming to students. In other countries, once the government tries to raise the price of tuition, students protest. Here we are simply not. If we don’t raise our voices against the status quo and stand for what we all deserve, it’ll get worse and worse!

Alejandra, City College of NY

I’m a freshman at CCNY. I receive financial aid and pay for books, transportation, and food with my earning from work. I don’t receive work-study and am not part of any opportunity programs. If I didn’t receive any financial aid, I would probably have to take out loans and ask for my parents’ support, but that would be an additional burden on them since they have to have other financial responsibilities.

I would certainly appreciate a child care center on campus because a lot of CCNY students really need it. We need a fully funded CUNY because not all students have access to money. Many of them are struggling. I’m lucky to have parents that would support me if I couldn’t work, but many students don’t have that kind of support. Having to work full time at a job puts a lot of stress on a student and often interrupts their ability to study and maintain their grades. Being in school on its own is very stressful and adding a job to that becomes very draining and can lead to mental health issues.

My biggest challenge as a CUNY student is transportation because the only bus that I’m able to take to get to campus is not reliable, and it interferes with my attendance in class.