Posts Tagged ‘transit’

Stephanie Appau, Borough of Manhattan Community College

I am a Business Management Major at BMCC. I am expected to graduate in the fall of 2020, once I pass all of my classes. It was fortunate for me to be accepted into the ASAP program at BMCC. The program covers my tuition and transportation fees. Without the ASAP program I wouldn’t be able to take winter or summer courses. Without these courses I would not be able to graduate on time. After I obtain my degrees I would like to open a vet and animal daycare in New York. I have a part time job that helps me pay for my rent and other bills outside of school. One of my main academic goals is to graduate with a high grade point average. To achieve this goal I’m pushing myself to be a better student. To give myself time to study so I could achieve my academic goals.

Luis Alvarez, Bronx Community College

I qualify for this service because of my visual disability and cognitive disability. Without Access-a-Ride I would not be able to travel from home to school. Although it is a crucial service in my life, it is not an accessible service. From my experience, people that book the rides are not well-trained; I have been dropped off in the wrong address once before already. I traveled to BK (I’m from the BX) and after being stranded there for the first 45min (the time it took just to rebook the trip) I still had to wait another 2 hours for a vehicle to be dispatched to finally be picked up.

Approximately 1 year ago while in school, I had another incident. It was the day of the big snowstorm and AAR is not well equipped to handle weather changes or extremes, they do not communicate well. They do not notify when they are outside or if they’re running late. I called them and they were busy. Two hours passed and had 1% battery on my phone. My phone died and I didn’t know what to do. Public Safety on campus said I had to wait and they’d wait with me or I could take a train, but due to my cognitive disability I cannot remember things well, especially when I’m nervous or anxious, like this situation with all my adrenaline pumping I don’t know what’s going on. I didn’t want to wait any longer! Mind you they are two hours late for the pickup- it was at 6, and I was still on campus at 8. So, against my better judgement, I decided to take the train. I started walking to the train- and I’m a big person, so on top of my visual disability I have a physical disability- I am walking down and I fall and slide down the sidewalk. My knees were scraped. When I finally arrive at the train stop I try to walk up the stairs, because it does not have an elevator or escalator, and I fell down again. I call AAR when I get home, and then they say I was written up as a “no-show” because they were out there but I was not. I got written up! I was anxious I’d lose my AAR privileges.

Another instance: I book my ride for 9 am because I have class at 11am and pickup for 6pm. Sometimes they do not pick me up until 12:30 and I miss my class! Numerous times I have missed class or I am late and it just does need to change. You pick a pick-up and drop-off location and they are NOT flexible with this. I am a student, a disabled student, so I need to go to tutoring a lot and I need to stay a little longer, lectures sometimes run short, ETC., so sometimes I miss my pickup time and I call and they say there is nothing they can do. I understand their standpoint but they need to be more flexible with students. I am not at the movies or at a bar, I am literally pursuing my education and betterment and I should not be punished for that. We need a better program for disabled students!

Jacky Zhao, College of Staten Island

I rely on Access-A-Ride service to get around every day since I can’t use public transit, but the service is terrible. It usually takes a tremendous amount of time to get home, and since the time slots to book a trip are inflexible and determined by a computer, I can’t always leave when I need to. The time slots available don’t give me enough time to get prepared at the beginning of the day, or return me home to get enough sleep at night. Even when I do get a trip booked at a convenient time, Access-A-Ride doesn’t seem to account for traffic in planning the trip, so I can end up waiting for a long time outside for a van to arrive, and I often don’t make it home from school until 2AM.

Someone from NYC Transit told me that I should try Access-A-Ride’s subscription service, where you can schedule rides in advance for the same time every day, to make things better. But I can’t do that since I’m a student and I don’t have the same schedule every day. Subscription service is good to have, but many people, like students, have irregular schedules.

Better Access-A-Ride service would benefit me and my friends a lot.  We’re students, we’re humans, we have personal lives, and we have to fight for our rights. We deserve an Access-A-Ride that understands that.

Reanna, Hunter College

When I first started high school, I knew the scholarship I needed to receive. If I didn’t get it, there was a chance I wouldn’t be going to college. After four years of dedicating my life to studying, taking AP classes (with tests I could barely afford to take), and eliminating any chance of a social life which could distract me from my schoolwork, I am proud to say I received the private scholarship I dreamed of. So I did all that and burned myself completely before even going to college. While I was extremely grateful for the scholarship that would help me with tuition, I had no idea that financial burden was inescapable in college.

I am currently a sophomore at Hunter College. I came to Hunter as a pre-med student, but being so burned out freshman year, I saw my A+s that I got in high school transform into Cs. My scholarship was threatened and I was devastated. At the beginning of sophomore year, I decided to try anthropology courses and I fell in love. However, I had to get a part-time job to pay for my monthly metro cards and textbooks. Working almost every night after class drained every bit of energy I had and I could barely stay awake while studying. I struggle to maintain the 3.5 GPA that my scholarship requires me to maintain. Textbooks, especially online textbook codes have destroyed my bank account. Food and transportation remain major struggles. Why do students have to pay over one hundred dollars each month just to be able to get to their classes or to attend their jobs so they can have money to pay for all the costs of being a student?

I dream of getting a PhD in Anthropology and becoming an archaeologist. However, field schools for archaeology are extremely expensive and fieldwork is usually done abroad. I have no way of paying to travel to obtain these experiences and I fear being in major debt. I am honestly afraid of graduate school, as I know that the extreme financial burden that awaits.

Katherine Breton, SUNY Cortland

I’m a sophomore at SUNY Cortland. I study psychology, and I’m working toward a minor in Spanish. After I graduate, I’m going to grad school for my Master’s and PHD in psychology, probably somewhere in New York City– by home. I currently get financial aid, TAP, and the Pell Grant, but even with that I still take out loans, and my parents pay a little bit to help too.

I don’t work during the school year, but at home I work at the YMCA, and between the money I get from that and babysitting, I can pay for my textbooks. If I didn’t get financial aid I’d probably be in a CUNY school instead of at SUNY Cortland, so that I was closer to home and it’d be less expensive. I wanted to go to SUNY because I wanted to get out of the city for awhile. There are so many problems that SUNY and CUNY students have to face right now, but just one of them is transportation to and from school and home. That’s expensive, and I feel like that should be provided. We need a fully funded SUNY and CUNY so that everybody has the opportunity to get a degree no matter what financial circumstances they’re in.

Andreina Martinez, City College of NY

I am a senior majoring in Physiology and minoring in Latin Studies. I’m graduating in May. I plan on getting a job in politics after college so I have a couple of internships with legislators in my community. I am a SEEK student so I get some help from financial aid. I receive the Pell Grant and work here at school as a tutor. I pay for textbooks and food with that money.

Without financial aid I would not be in school. Last year I was concerned with tuition being raised that I would have to take out a loan but I managed my classes so that my financial aid didn’t run out.  A lot of things in high school I took for granted. Like for instance, in high school, you get a metro card provided and don’t have to pay $130 every month. Textbooks are very expensive in college and even if you rent them they cost a lot of money. It’s hard trying to maintain a decent lifestyle like trying to eat healthy and those things while being in school full time or part time. I often still do not have enough money to eat.

A fully funded CUNY would give a lot of opportunity to people who can’t afford it who maybe didn’t have any kind of financial aid programs. Without financial aid a lot of us wouldn’t even be here today.

Salsabill Mostafa, City College of NY

This is my second bachelor’s degree. Even though I do get some financial aid, it does not cover my whole tuition. I’m in a difficult position since I’m a full-time student it’s not possible for me to also work full-time. I work part-time and that’s just enough to get me by with my expenses. Then the question arises, how do I pay the rest of my tuition after TAP because I don’t get any Pell. So, I ask for loans, I ask for private loans, I ask for federal loans.

It’s just so unfortunate because even if I’m a second degree student, this is a public institution and education is a public right and is a civil right. Not only should we be taken care of for our first degree, but anytime we want to further our education, further our life. Whether it’s a second degree or graduate level studies, we should not be paying out of pocket. My first degree was from Brooklyn College. For my first degree, my tuition was covered by Pell and by TAP.

It feels like you are always stuck it feels like you will never move on with your life. I live under a decent standard of living. Sometimes I do end up borrowing money from my parents. I have difficulty buying books, I barely get to buy my textbooks, the commute is an issue. This makes life very difficult, spending your energies in places where you should not be.

Suraiya Priyanka, Hunter College

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.

Luisa Garcia, Nassau Community College

I am currently in my second semester at Nassau Community College, and every day I have to take 3 different buses just to get to campus, taking me almost 2 hours. Recently, the bus that comes near my house was cut and now it only runs every 5 hours. So my time to be at school and do what I need to do as a student is limited.

Right now, I am working towards becoming a physical therapist but have had issues trying to find the classes I need. I went to the advising office on campus, but was only told what classes I would need to get my general degree and not what would best prepare me to transfer. The office attempted to help, but because they had to help so many other students I wasn’t able to get the advising that I need to make sure that I will be prepared for life after college.  Also, due to budget issues the school does not have all of the classes I will need to continue my education, so I will be behind when I transfer schools.

Right now, I am able to afford to go to school due to financial aid programs. I am very lucky to receive these, but what I will receive will not nearly cover the costs of the four year college that I will need to attend to receive my degree. I’m not sure how I’m going to afford it, right now I already have an on-campus job while I’m in classes full time an am stretched so thin.

Jairon Munoz, Brooklyn College

When I graduated from Brooklyn College with a Business Management and Finance degree, I thought this was it. Financial aid from 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 second 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 finances when I should be focusing more on a midterm I have next week for Managerial Accounting.