My name is Sabah Ahsan and I am a junior, Urban Studies and Political Science double major at Queens College, City University of New York. After graduating, I plan to pursue a Master’s of Public Administration (MPA), and work for a municipal agency in New York City or State. I originally became interested in an MPA in my Urban Studies classes. In these courses I learned how insufficient some social services are in the United States. I would like to improve these systems so that more people have a social safety net to rely on and have opportunities for upward mobility. I’m grateful for my professors and advisors at Queen College, who have guided me to my career path. That being said, there are facets of my college experience, and CUNY more broadly, that have room for improvement.
I’ve had a positive college experience at Queens College, but I have a few challenges. I am a recipient of the Macaulay Honors Full Ride Scholarship, which covers tuition, textbooks, and provides me with a laptop. I also have an advisor through the Macaulay program, and It has been nice to have one-on-one academic guidance. Personally, my main struggle is maintaining the high GPA requirement for my scholarship. To continue to be eligible for the scholarship, I must earn a 3.5 GPA or higher every semester. I wouldn’t be able to attend college without my scholarship, so it is stressful for me, especially juggling my coursework, extracurriculars, and an internship. While my college experience has been mostly positive, my scholarship does put additional pressure on me.
Outside of myself, I can see ways in which Queens College and the CUNY System could be better. For example, in this coming semester, the Urban Studies department is offering all in person classes. I’ve noticed that throughout the pandemic, in-person classes are less likely to be filled than the online classes. This is a challenge for adjunct professors, as their jobs are dependent upon students taking their classes. It would be better if it were up to the discretion of the professor whether or not the class was in-person or online, or if we had additional funding for Covid safety measures. Overall, CUNY’s response to the pandemic could have been better.
To solve issues of the pandemic response, and the stressors of the Macaulay Scholarship, CUNY needs more state funding. Since we are largely a commuter school, most students live with their parents, and many are wary of exposing the older generation to COVID-19. More students would feel comfortable coming to campus if there was a weekly testing program for all students. Additionally, CUNY has been cutting the amount of tenure track faculty, and instead replaces them with adjunct positions. Adjunct faculty lack the job security and have lower salaries than the full time faculty. CUNY needs more funding in the state budget to treat our professors right. Lastly, CUNY needs more funding for mental health resources for students. Students face many stressors in college, such as for me, maintaining the high GPA requirement for my scholarship. Currently, the counselors at Queens College can only see students for free for a few sessions, until the student needs to pay out of pocket. This makes counseling at QC inaccessible for many students. Therefore, we need more state funding for CUNY to help with the pandemic response, treat our faculty fairly, and to provide more mental health resources for students.
My name is Isabellah Paul I am currently a sophomore transfer student double majoring in Political Science and Women & Gender Studies here at CUNY Hunter. At my previous institution I was in a program that granted me a tuition scholarship, however upon transferring to Hunter I was awarded no financial aid since my mother had a full time job and has been working for 20 years. I resorted to taking out loans to pay for my tuition and I also work to cover any other costs. Being a full time matriculated student and working part time gets difficult to manage, especially when considering the money I am taking out in loans. I wish to go to law school upon graduating too so I will have to continue taking out loans for another 3 years. As a single mother of 4, my mom works full time and pays rent. Therefore, I like to remain fiscally independent to ease some of her burden. I pay for my own phone bill, books, my commute, food, and any other miscellaneous costs. Managing all this in tandem with school has been stressful at times.
Oftentimes since my mother is so overwhelmed with work, I have to assume responsibility for household errands such as grocery shopping, laundry, picking up my siblings from school, etc. One night my brother broke his arm and I had to bring him to the hospital since my mother had work the next morning and I was the only other household member above the age of 18. I spent the whole night there and could not get a chance to go to school the next day. Events like this often make managing school difficult, especially when they abruptly occur and no one else can handle them but me.
CUNY has been known for its affordability and their ability to grant students the opportunity to achieve their academic dreams on their own time. However, this affordability has been compromised and supporting a fully funded CUNY will enable students like myself and many others in getting their degree more feasible than before. Every student has a different financial situation and supporting them through making CUNY free like in the past can help aid the accessibility in obtaining higher education for many.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.