Posts Tagged ‘tuition’

Andy Huang, Hunter College

I am a senior studying chemistry at Hunter College. I chose to attend a CUNY because it was much more affordable than a SUNY or private college. I live with my parents as dorming would be too expensive. I am lucky to receive the Pell Grant and TAP, both of which help cover my tuition fees. I also receive a scholarship per semester that helps fund my transportation, school materials, and food. While I rely on financial aid, I have come close to losing it during several semesters. This semester specifically, I was stressed about financial aid because I lost TAP. I couldn’t receive it because I was not taking enough eligible credits (the classes I needed to take were locked to the spring semester). I hope to see TAP’s eligibility expand in the future so that it accepts all the classes that students take. Attending college and getting a degree should not be blocked by tuition fees. Students need to be able to focus more on studying instead of stressing about working part-time/full-time to attend their classes.

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. 

Nicholas Suresh, Queens College

I am a sophomore at Queens College, majoring in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. After college, I would like to be an elementary school teacher in New York City or another part of the state. I am involved in the community as I volunteer to feed the homeless and tutor children in an afterschool program. 

Not too long ago, I was in a darker place, however. During the pandemic I transferred from the Von College of Aeronautics and Technology. Many professors at this institution assume that incoming freshmen are proficient in math to a certain level, regardless of their educational background. This model didn’t work for me, as I struggled with math in high school. As a result, I had a nervous breakdown when faced with tough physics and math classes in college.  I experienced intense anxiety and insomnia, and couldn’t see an end in sight. Eventually I decided to transfer to Queens College. This entailed hefty paperwork and planning.  I knew this was the right decision for me, but it was extremely difficult to put myself together while breaking apart every day from mental health issues. 

At this time, I also felt restricted by my parents and by circumstance.  As a first generation college student, it is hard for my parents to understand what I go through in college. They are also cautious about my safety, which made it hard for me to make friends and explore the city during high school.  My parents are paying out of pocket for my college education, which I am grateful for. At the same time, it comes with a tradeoff of sacrificing my freedom for my education. 

Upon transferring to Queens College, things started to look a bit brighter. I immediately met with my advisor at QC, who is a friendly and warm individual. She guided me to the best courses for me and in the right sequence. I also applied for a job at a local after school tutoring program at this time. Now I serve as a counselor and tutor for middle school students. I love my job and it is the driving force that keeps me focused on my schoolwork. My job also gives me more financial independence from my parents, so that I can cover some of my expenses. With my earnings, I ride public transportation around the city. Riding buses and the subway makes me feel like I have more freedom.  At QC my job, my advisor, and my major have made a world of difference in my life. 

Although my life has turned around over the past year or so, the public higher education system still needs improvement. For instance, institutions should offer more mental health and tutoring services for students struggling with courses and all students should have access to helpful advisors. We need more funding for higher education to bring these essential services to students.

Amanda Argueta, Nassau Community College

I am a freshman at Nassau Community College. Currently, I’m a Liberal Arts Major, but I’m thinking of switching into the Nursing program. My parents and I pay for school out-of-pocket. I work a lot to help pay for my part. Usually, I work about 25 hours a week, doing five hour shifts five days a week. I used to work less, but I’ve had to increase my hours because of tuition. Now it’s harder to make time for my schoolwork.

As a DACA student, I can’t get any federal aid. I had to look for other scholarships, but it’s been hard because I’m the first person in my family to go to college, so no one could really help me at home. What made things more difficult was that I was almost charged out-of-state tuition. NCC said that since I was not a resident, I did not qualify for in-state tuition. I had to jump through a lot of hoops and send them a lot of extra documents to finally get in-state tuition.

Sammie Maitland, Hunter College

Azania “Sammie” Maitland is a Junior at Hunter College who majors in Political Science and Minors in Legal Studies. After completing her undergraduate studies she will enter graduate school to study Public Policy. Upon completing her education she intends to begin a career in public service because she wants to help make the world a better place. She pays for school with a mix of TAP, Pell grants, and loans. She takes a part-time course load to balance focusing on her studies and community advocacy – which means she receives less aid and has to take out more loans to make up the difference. She has some concerns about paying back loans once she fully completes her education, but hopes that tax credits or that other avenues for student debt relief will be made available in New York State.

Sajina Shrestha, City College of NY

Sajina is a senior at the City College of New York, majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Journalism. After graduating, she hopes to be a journalist in New York. Sajina receives both TAP and Pell but the award amount has been decreasing every year while the tuition is also increasing. Although her financial aid pays for most of her tuition, she has to rely on her Fellowship awards and pay out of pocket for the rest of the tuition. What makes it even harder to pay or save up for tuition is that her FAFSA never has a clear number of how much she’ll be expected to pay. Inconsistency with FAFSA is a common occurrence among college students and it can be very frustrating to deal with when you don’t know how much to save up. Although her parents also help her pay her tuition, it is becoming difficult for them to pay the increasing cost every year. With increasing tuition costs and decreased award sizes causing financial strains, Sajina has to work while attending classes to stay afloat. With more CUNY funding, Sajina hopes that tuition costs will be lowered and award sizes will be increased.

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.

Rani Persaud, City College of NY

Rani is a senior at the City College of New York pursuing a degree in Political Science and International Studies. After she graduates, she wants to go on to become an attorney and work in Guyana to serve her community. Rani receives financial aid but it barely covers half of her tuition. Although her parents help her pay the rest of her tuition, it is still a lot to pay out of pocket, especially since Rani is an out-of-state student and lives off campus. Being an out-of-state student, Rani pays more than twice the tuition than those with an in-state tuition. All the expenses are a lot to keep up with when she only receives a small amount of aid. Rani hopes with more funding for CUNY, out-of-state students won’t have to pay so much in tuition and that students who need housing on campus get the resources and money to help pay for it.