Posts Tagged ‘transit’

Caroline Scott, SUNY Cortland

I attend SUNY Cortland as a full-time student. I’ve been here for two years and  attended SUNY Broome my freshman and sophomore year. When applying for college I didn’t know where I wanted to go, but I knew that I didn’t want to be that far from home. That’s why I decided on  Broome because it’s about 30 minutes from home. I was able to live off campus and not commute so I was able to get a real college experience. After two years there I decided to go to Cortland because it was far from my home where I am able to be independent, but still close enough to go home if I need to. I am able to go to Cortland without having to have student loans because my parents can pay for it in full. That is a reason why I chose Cortland because I wouldn’t have student debt. Cortland comes with a lot of expenses though whether it’s parking, the price of textbooks (which I don’t always need), or materials teachers make us get outside of the classroom. My major is important to me so I will do whatever it takes to obtain my degree, but the price for many things have gotten out of control and I believe all SUNYs need to look at their finances and think about their students. 

Ines Schmitt, Hunter College

I am a senior at Hunter College and a Psychology major. I am a mother of three going back to school now my children are grown up and would like to help young people since when I was young I didn’t have that support. I was at BMCC my first two years and I got my associate’s degree. It was really nice because I didn’t have to worry about the burden of paying for my tuition books and transportation since I had ASAP with an unlimited metrocard and I had an excellent adviser. Unfortunately when I transferred to Hunter I didn’t have the same experience with the advisement. They made me take a class that I already took in BMCC and I felt that the adviser didn’t take me seriously. I had to take that class online with 300 other students and I didn’t learn anything since the professor couldn’t take the time to explain. I think one of the changes that CUNY could benefit from is extending ASAP since it is a great program to hire more advisers that care about students instead of making it more difficult. Fixing the heating system since sometimes the professor had to let us leave because it was too hot and there wasn’t anybody to put the heating down. I think going to university shouldn’t be a struggle and administration should help us to navigate the system.

Donald Glivens, Borough of Manhattan Community College

I am a senior at BMCC and I am majoring in Business Management. I am planning on continuing my education at a four year college to get my bachelor’s degree. I live with my parents, but they can’t afford to pay for my college expenses. So I have to take out loans in order to pay for my education. I take out subsidized loans through FASFA. It covers all of my school expenses but it doesn’t cover my textbooks, transportation, or food. Also, I have to help support my family, so I have to work two jobs to afford other expenses. This makes it difficult for me to concentrate on my education. In order to graduate I needed to take a certain class that wasn’t offered my last semester. This forced me to take out more loans because I had to go to school for an extra semester. I am really worried about paying these loans back in the future. I wish they would make college free for everyone, so I wouldn’t have to be so overwhelmed about paying for my education.

Emma Gutowski, SUNY Cortland

I attend SUNY Cortland as a full time student. I am currently a senior but have been attending school here since I was a freshman. I am from Corfu, New York. When I started considering colleges and going through my options I made sure to keep my parents in the loop as they are the ones who pay for my schooling. I first considered two private schools in different states but as time passed I realized that the tuition cost would be far too much so I began to focus on SUNY schools. When the time came, I ultimately chose Cortland. It felt right and once I heard about their Professional Writing major, I was sold. Once Covid-19 hit, all of my classes were online except for one science lab but I was already on campus so I couldn’t do much to change it. The second semester of my freshman/sophomore year (I am graduating early so it gets a bit complicated) I stayed at home and did all of my classes virtually. Although that first year was tough, it was helpful to my family as we didn’t have to pay the living on campus fees and we received a lot of refunds since I wasn’t using the campus amenities. That semester at home was also the hardest for me grades wise. I began to work while taking these classes and strained myself too much. Ever since then my grades have improved massively and I’ve continuously made the dean’s list. I will say that the toughest part about going to college is the tuition and figuring out how these student loans will affect me in the future. I usually have a discussion with my mom before I move back to school about how we are going to pay for school and although she always figures it out, it’s still a very stressful situation. There should be changes to tuition and what fees are included. I was never a fan of dining hall food so having to pay for a meal plan I barely used felt ridiculous to my family. The amount for a parking pass should also be lowered due to the fact that they will sell way over how many actual parking spots there are on campus. My experience here has been great and I will miss it when I graduate in the spring. 

Samantha Healey, SUNY Cortland

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.

Iftakar Bakhsh, Borough Manhattan Community College

My name is Iftakar Bakhsh. I am majoring in Business Management. I am planning to go to a four-year college to achieve my Bachelor’s degree. I live with my parents, so they pay for my college expenses. I used to get financial aid but now I don’t get full cover for tuition and other expenses like textbooks, transportation, food and shelter due to my parents’ income. My parents pay out of their pocket which is hard for them because they have a hard time to have enough money. So, they sometimes have to borrow from our family members and pay them back later which puts my parents in debt. Both of my parents have to work in order to pay for my tuition, other college expenses, rent, and food.  I wish that they can make colleges free for everyone. This can help my parents, so they don’t feel stressed about paying for my college expenses.

Lorna Duran, Hunter College

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.

Samuel Davenport III, Nassau Community College

I am a first year student at Nassau Community College. Currently, I am studying Liberal Arts, but my goal is to switch to IT. I am paying for school both with unsubsidized loans and out of pocket. However, I am an out-of-state student, so the tuition is double for me. My mom and I are splitting the remaining balance after loans half and half. At first, she was paying it all, but then I got a job and offered to help out.

Paying for school is far more expensive than I thought, and it’s a challenge working and going to school at the same time. Pretty much all the money I’m making is being dedicated to school. That’s why I try to make sure I’m doing well in school; because the money that my mother and I are spending would go to waste if I don’t.

I am a full time student and work almost full time – about 30 hours a week. It takes a lot of discipline and focus to make sure I can still do well in school while balancing all the hours at work. When I first started working, I thought I would only be working 20 hours a week, but I needed to increase my hours to help pay for school. If I had the option, I would only work 20 hours, so that I could spend my time doing readings for class and getting a really good handle on the material. Balancing school, work, sleep, and personal time is definitely not easy, but with a lot of dedication and determination, it’s manageable.

Being at a commuter school in a suburban area makes transportation hard too. Depending on the day of the week, I either borrow my cousin’s car, someone drops me off at school, or I get an Uber. However, I uber more than anything else. I usually spend about $60 a week on Ubers, but the real money issue is tuition.

Sabah Ahsan, Queens College

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. 

Isabellah Paul, Hunter College

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.