Posts Tagged ‘transit’

Suraiya Priyanka, Hunter College

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I am a second semester freshman at Hunter College and currently undeclared because I’m narrowing down which major interests me most. I am trying to graduate college as soon as possible, which means I have to take 15 credits per semester, but that is very difficult when you also have to work and support your parents. I receive financial aid from TAP and Excelsior, but that only covers my tuition and Excelsior only gives me a few hundred dollars. I considered applying for ASAP since it would’ve been very helpful to me, but it is not offered at my college. I have to pay for my other expenses including textbooks, food, and transportation.

In my four people household, my dad is the only one that works full time and I work a part time job two days a week. If I decided to prioritize earning money and worked a couple extra days, I wouldn’t be able to focus on school and graduate on time. I already struggle to pay for food, textbooks, and transportation so if I didn’t receive aid to cover my tuition, I would not be able to go to college at all. In high school, I didn’t have to worry about all these things and all of a sudden, with all of this pressure being put on me, I constantly find myself trying to balance school and work and am left with no time to relax. Taking 5 classes every semester and also working is too much to handle and as a result, I am concerned that I won’t be able to do well in school or graduate on time.

We need a fully funded CUNY because many students depend on it. New York City is filled with low-income students and families who choose CUNY because it is advertised as a more affordable option, when in reality it is not. So far, my biggest challenge with being a CUNY student has been financial aid. If all my college expenses were paid for and covered by the government, I would be able to focus a lot more on my education and not have to stress about my finances. CUNY needs to be free again because New Yorkers need free public college now more than ever before.

Jairon Munoz, Brooklyn College

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When I graduated from Brooklyn College with a Business Management and Finance Degree I thought this was it. Financial Aid, TAP and the seek program had covered my tuition and expenses, I would find a job and start my life. However, I am back in school studying Accounting in order to get more job security because I could not secure a job within the first major I studied. Currently, I do not work so I pay for college and other expenses with the money I saved since I graduated Brooklyn College. Luckily, I worked hard and can fall on that cushion I provided for myself. Then again, I have to make a lot of decisions on how to allocate my money, such as I ride the bike to school rather than take the bus because transit money can be used to buy food, rent or supplies for school.
Eventually, my savings will run out and I will have to work again in order to go to college. I would qualify for financial aid, tap and other services but because of the four-year limit, my time is up. I am already looking in to scholarships and awards because I do not want to take a loan and be one of the many students in debt. Hopefully, after obtaining my 2nd Bachelors I can start studying for the CPA exam, get my license and work in an accounting firm. Although, with that comes more money in order to take the courses to study for those exams. All I worry about are my finance when I should be focusing more on a Midterm I have next week for Managerial Accounting.

Michael D’Amato, Brooklyn College

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I am the first in my family to go to college, thanks to the help of a partial TAP award, the Pell Grant the SEEK program and now the Excelsior Scholarship. I am a transfer student, attending Brooklyn College to obtain my Bachelors of Science in Psychology. My father had also lost his job two years ago, so my financial aid situation has fluctuated each year based on how much he makes.

Overall, I am  able to go to school and be the first in my family to graduate college, so I am very thankful that the scholarship has helped with that. The idea of living in New York after graduation is not a problem. The idea of taking 30 credits by the end of the year, however, is.

12 credits a semester is already a lot. I am currently only taking 12 credits this semester, through the SEEK program, which I have been a part of since attending Kingsborough Community College. 

 Without the Scholarship or any financial aid, I would have paid out of pocket since my family is against the idea of taking out loans. The most stressful cost for me right now is my metro card.


Maria Obmachkina, Hunter College

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I am studying psychology.  I receive the Pell Grant and TAP.  I had to drop chemistry because it was so hard and I ended up becoming part time that semester.  It disqualified me from TAP mid semester, which was really stressful.  Another semester, I dropped Russian and the same thing happened.  If I didn’t receive financial aid at all during college I would be in a lot of debt, probably have a mental breakdown. 

I work as a home attendant 20 hours a week.  I used to do tutoring.  I pay for food out of pocket.  I live with my grandma and we have SNAP.  When I first got into school it was hard to register for the courses I needed.  If college was free it would mobilize and expand people.  People would have more time.  It would help people in need that can barely survive.  Transportation is the biggest challenge for me as a student.  It takes me 2 hours each way.  Also mental health.  There needs to be better mental health services and services for non traditional students. 



Keith Thiyagarajah, New York City College of Technology

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I am a Sophomore studying Computer Engineering.  I am a part of  the ASAP program.  I work at a restaurant 30 hours a week.  I get an $875 voucher for textbooks and materials for school.  Some semesters I max out.  My job pays for food. 

It’s hard to balance work and school.  I sleep 2-3 hours.  ASAP gives me priority registration, that’s how I’m able to work 30 hours/week.  I can plan my class schedule around work. 

College should be free and available for everyone.  A lot of people want to go to college, but they can’t because they have to work to support their family and kids!  My biggest challenge is sleep and transportation.  There’s no parking near my school and the F train is always having problems.

Rory, College of Staten Island

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I am a freshman, and my major is undecided but I’m looking to go into social work. I am taking out government loans which doesn’t cover my full tuition. The rest is covered through a savings account from my dad.

Textbooks are the most stressful cost. I just got work study placement and the money will go toward food, textbooks, and bus transportation. What CSI needs to have is more shuttle buses for people all over Staten Island. It is the closest CUNY to me and still so hard to get to.



Anny Mariano, Queensborough Community College

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I am a freshman psychology major. I would like to eventually work at a school and work with teenagers or do social work. I receive the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the Pell Grant and I am looking for a job to pay for the bus, food and clothes. I didn’t qualify for ASAP because they said I had too many remedial courses. But I had taken those classes in the summer already. When I went to try again to appeal, the spots in ASAP were already filled up. If I was able to get into ASAP I would get my metrocard covered which would be a huge help. I am the first person in my family to go to college. My family and I are from the Dominican Republic. If I didn’t get financial aid I’d have to take out loans. I am trying to work to save money in case there is a semester that I don’t get enough financial aid.

Royland Robinson, Nassau Community College

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I pay for some of my education through financial aid.  Books and transportation, I have to pay for out of pocket, because the amount of money that I get from FASFA is not really enough.  I take the bus most of the time and sometimes ask for rides from family members if I can. The price of books has definitely increased over the past few years. And that’s been kind of hectic. Especially for someone like me who has arthritis. I have been living with arthritis since I was 6 years old and the medication costs $2,000 a month.  

Being able to graduate from high school was a big achievement for me. And now that I was able to do that, I’m not going to let anything stop me. I just want to keep moving forward and be as successful as possible so I can pursue my career goals in the future.

Tobin Nestoiter, Brooklyn College

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I pay for the majority of my tuition through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), and I have to pay out of pocket for the rest of my tuition and other costs which these programs don’t cover. In addition, since TAP takes an excessively long time to process for me, I  sometimes have to pay, on average, about  $1,500, up front.  This is to ensure that my classes do not get dropped in the beginning of the semester. Some semesters my classes do get dropped, without my knowledge, or any warning that there was a standing balance.  This is a huge problem, because due to limited class availability, seats fill up in classes very quickly.

I always expect TAP to not process properly for me, so I work during the summer to try to avoid this. Because I have to work long hours to make money in the summer, I lose the opportunity  to pursue internships related to my career goals.  My only  challenge should be learning new material, not dealing with all the hassles of getting into classes. Not to mention,  high tuition is not the only challenging cost that I am faced with. Books, transportation, and food are also costly and finding money for these expenses is equally difficult. This strain is not only taking a toll on my finances, but also on my health. The panic of finding out that my classes are dropped, that it might be too late to re-register, being forced to take a semester off, and struggling to afford all of these costs, has taken a toll on my mind and body. 

Humaira, Queensborough Community College

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I use financial aid to pay my tuition in college. I qualify for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). However, the TAP award is too low.  It should be more.   I have to buy books, food, and pay for transportation costs and housing.

This semester, my textbooks cost almost $300 and  my metrocard costs $120 per month. Because I am a full-time student in college, it is not possible to work.  I hope I am going to graduate on time so that I do not run out of TAP money.