College has always been expensive, and for the past decade, tuition has increased along with the many out-of-pocket costs we must pay for as college students. One major reason I transferred to a CUNY was the financial burden of being in debt and taking out a loan every semester to stay in school. Getting into a college was easy, but staying in college is challenging.
Although my financial aid covers my tuition, I had to take money out of my savings to pay for supplemental materials as a requirement for courses in order to pass them. . The non-tuition costs pile every semester with transportation costs, ridiculously
expensive textbooks required for major classes, up-to-date technology, and applications we must pay to remain enrolled in certain classes.
Additionally, winter courses offered at Hunter College are not free– no financial aid is offered these semesters, which deters students from taking more classes to graduate within their timeline. I paid out of pocket for two summer classes, totaling over $2,000. Why should summer courses be partially covered with financial aid but winter courses are not? Winter courses offer a gateway for transfer students to get back on track by taking extra courses that would make them fall less behind. However, the system fails our students because they are not given the opportunity to take winter courses. If they take winter classes, they are hit with a large bill by the end of the winter session for a three-week class.
Also, as a transfer student, I was behind to graduate on time because of the lack of advisement. As a result, I could not register for the classes that I needed. The classes I previously took were accepted as electives instead of prerequisites, pushing me back as I had to retake these classes again. Then, when speaking with an advisor about graduating on time , she did not mention the possibility of taking winter and summer classes as an opportunity to be on track for graduation. Later, I figured out why she had not mentioned this possibility– winter and summer courses are expensive. One class could total up to around $1,000 and taking two would double the price. What is more frustrating is that these classes are reduced to a 3-4 week time frame yet are costly. Not only are students paying for these classes out of pocket, but they are also spending extra on textbooks and supplemental materials required for a 3-4 week class that would normally be a semester long e.
I ask that CUNY colleges make winter and summer courses more affordable since many transfer students use those semesters to boost their credits and graduate on time. Students who use these extra semesters to catch up with their credits in such a short period of time should not be forced to pay for the price of a class that is usually taken within a semester’s worth of time. While CUNY colleges were made affordable to NYC students, many transfer students still struggle with non-tuition costs and the stack of fees that are not covered by financial aid.
Carrie Liang is a junior at Hunter College, CUNY and a member of YI-New York’s Fall 2021 Young Advocates Program.