I am majoring in Psychology. I want to become a mental health counselor for teens and young adults either at a school or have my own private practice. I am a first generation college student. Both of my parents are from Haiti my dad went to college my mom didn’t. I am in limbo, hoping to graduate by next semester.
In my Social Behavior course it was often so packed that I couldn’t get a seat and would show up and then just leave. I didn’t do as well as I hoped to, as a result and am retaking the course in the fall. If high-demand classes were available in the summer and winter, and financial aid covered them, that would greatly help students graduate on time. We need more class availability for classes that are highly in demand such as pre- or co-requisite classes. We need better paid adjuncts. Every single semester they’re trying to teach and do their best and not being paid as much as they should be. There should be better trained advisors. One day I was in advisement and I had work at 2pm. I did a walk in and put my name down and waited almost 2 hours.
I am a double major: Sociology with a concentration in Criminology and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. As a senior at SUNY New Paltz, I’m not yet sure what I will be doing after graduation. I will likely be moving back home with my parents and working on Long Island in order to save money and plan for the future. I am paying for school through loans. I work about 34 hours a week between my two paid jobs. I also have an unpaid internship. Although I have worked throughout all four years of college, it is likely that I will have very little saved upon graduation as I have to spend my money on costs like groceries and rent. I pay for books myself or share the cost/book with a classmate.
If I did not receive financial aid, I would be taking out more loans and therefore graduate with even worse debt than I will already be facing. Since I am a transfer student, a large sum of credits from my former university were not accepted at SUNY New Paltz. I did not think I would be able to graduate on time but am doing so by taking 18-credit course loads and enrolling in summer and winter classes that are not covered by financial aid.
We need fully funded SUNY and CUNY because education should be treated as a right, not a privilege. It is unacceptable that cuts are being made to opportunity programs that assist students who need the most support. More than that, it is disheartening that students like myself have to work multiple jobs on top of taking classes and being involved in our campus communities. We are over-worked, lack sleep and are sometimes malnourished.
Although I am extraordinarily busy, I make time for NYPIRG in order to advocate for things like fully-funded higher education and voter rights with the hope that generations to come don’t have to face the same struggles as myself and many of my peers. My story is not unique and absolutely not the worst of the pack. There are students who are responsible for going to school, paying for their livelihood (rent, groceries, medicine, etc.) who are also responsible for supporting their families at home, whether it be parents, siblings or children. Fully-funded SUNY and CUNY would alleviate the stressors that cause many students to drop-out of college. They would likely also increase enrollment rates, as money and/or lack of access to financial aid is one of the major reasons people choose not to go to college. Education is a right! And we will continue to fight, fight, fight!
I am currently a freshman majoring in political science and minoring in Urban Studies. After graduation, I plan on going to law school. I pay for tuition through TAP and Pell Grants, and my parents assist me with the costs of textbooks. TAP only covers four years of financial aid, so I must take fifteen credits per semester to graduate on time. If TAP would cover summer and winter courses then it would lighten my load over the fall and spring semesters. Along with being a full time college student, I also work part time to financially assist my family. It is nearly impossible to make college my first priority when I feel overwhelmed with the overload of credits and working.
CUNY and SUNY should be fully funded, so that specifically my two siblings will not have to feel pressured to work in order to afford college. In terms of my college experience, CUNY needs to be better funded. I had difficulty registering for a calculus class which I needed to fulfill a core requirement.
Additionally, finding an academic adviser who will be able to give me accurate advice is very hard. At the beginning of my Freshman year, I had a question regarding financial aid. One adviser gave me inaccurate advice which almost caused me to lose my financial aid due to the fact, that there are not enough advisers for the amount of students. She had to rush when giving me advice in order to make time for the long line of students waiting to be advised. This budget deficit at CUNY could have had detrimental effects on my college career.
I am currently a sophomore in my second semester majoring in Psychology at the College of Staten Island. I am worried about actually graduating on time with the problems I’ve had with my financial aid. Last semester I received aid from TAP and Pell; however, my financial aid has been taken away from me now.
I decided to change my major a few months ago, and, despite being told that this would not affect my financial aid, I got a notice at the start of the semester that there weren’t enough credits for financial aid to cover me. This left other financial opportunity programs such as Excelsior, ASAP, and SEEK out of my reach as well. Right now, my parents are paying out of pocket to keep me in college, and sooner or later we might have to start taking out student loans, which I really don’t want to do. In addition, I might not even have enough credits to graduate on time, and I think winter and summer courses are going to be a massive toll on me, financially and mentally.
The fact that programs like TAP are not offered to winter and summer students leaves me stuck between not wanting to become a financial burden on my family and wanting to graduate as quickly as possible. The financial burden of living expenses such as textbooks, utilities, and food on campus really impacts what I’m going to do in the future. I believe a fully funded CUNY could give passionate and driven students the opportunity to attend and graduate from college without having to worry about the costs. I want a higher quality education in New York, so that everyone has a chance to plan for their dream job in the future.