In the midst of a budget crisis, will financial aid be the first to go? by Saif Choudhury
During the week, Zumana Miyfa, a junior at the City College of New York, is busy managing her 17-credit schedule – full of pre-med classes like organic chemistry and microbiology. Over the weekends, however, Miyfa works part-time as a tutor to help pay for her college tuition. Despite all this hard work, if she relied on her salary alone, she would not have enough to pay for college.
“If it wasn’t for the grants and federal aid that I get, I wouldn’t be able to attend CCNY,” says Miyfa, a biology major. “Even though the tuition for a semester isn’t that much, I still don’t have the time to work enough to cover those expenses. The money I get through TAP and FAFSA makes all the difference in the world between getting a college education and not.”
Miyfa is part of the 75% of CCNY undergraduate students who receive financial aid. In fact, 42% of all students on campus receive enough to cover their entire tuition, according to the most recent financial aid data released regarding student demographics. As a result, if City College’s much-discussed budget cuts take a bite out of financial aid, approximately three quarters of students would be hit hard.
This sense of panic comes from actual cases occurring throughout the country. When money gets tight, financial aid to students often gets cut. In Chicago, due to a standoff between the governor and other government leaders, many students are no longer receiving financial aid, grants, or scholarships. This is part of a growing trend, as 19 states reduced the amount of financial aid awarded to students between 2008 and 2013, even though the percentage of national college students receiving financial aid has increased at a slow pace over the past several years (see graph).
So the question arises: is New York next?
Bryan Ramo, a worker in the Willie Administration Building, explains how CCNY would be affected if New York cuts financial aid to students. “$6,000 in tuition is not a lot,” says Ramo, who is also a senior at CCNY. “But we are talking about students who don’t make a lot to begin with. If they lost financial assistance, well then you’d see a whole lot more students on campus who have jobs. Which may not be that great because I myself have two jobs yet I make less than $30,000 a year.”
The national trend comes at a time when it seems like CCNY might have to raise the tuition for its students. According to a statistical analysis of the 2016 fiscal year, the college will experience a [be careful to get your #s correct] a $14.6 million shortfall. As a result, raising tuition may be the only way to keep CCNY financially afloat.
Neither New York State nor the federal government has released any statements regarding the cutting of financial aid for New York colleges and their students. But Donald Trump has spoken up: If he becomes president, his cuts to government spending would come from the Department of Education. “You could cut that way, way, way, down,” he has stated.”
At CCNY, it’s safe to say that no one agrees with Trump. John Biswas, a junior, believes that cuts to financial aid would devastate our students. “In helping us pay for college, the government is ensuring the future of the nation,” says Biswas, a theater major. “But if they want to cut it and take away our education, well then they are ruining this country’s hope and prosperity. It takes money to