How do I select the college that best fits my criteria?
When finances matter, that’s the main criteria that has to be met. It sounds like you might need an online program, so see if any of the CUNY or SUNY schools offer an online degree. I know some of the SUNY community colleges were offering computer science online even before Covid. They probably offer other programs online too.
How do I select the right major? How do I get excellent college guidance?
Make an appointment to talk to someone in the academic advising office at the schools you’re interested in attending. I’d start with one of the CUNY schools since they’re nearby. Ask how many of your credits transfer and how many you need to get a degree.
What are my expectations for getting a diploma?
A lot will depend on you. You wouldn’t be the only adult student in class, but you have to focus. I think a lot of your roadblocks are based on your attitude about life in general and college in particular. It sounds like you love education which is great, but you seem to expect an elite education on a community college budget. I think you need to try to make allowances for people. I don’t think they’re trying to “shaft” you or sabotage your studies. Community colleges and small state schools just don’t have the same resources as the large universities and elite LACs.
Can an Associates degree open up many doors?
I think it depends on the major you choose. That’s why it’s important to speak with an academic advisor.
Will FASFA/Pell grants pay for all of my credit hours to get a Bachelors?
No. The federal Pell grant is a need based grant. The maximum dollar amount is about $3,000 per semester ($6,000 per year), but that’s only if your EFC is 0000. The closer your EFC is to 6000, the less you get. If your EFC is greater than 6000 you wouldn’t get any Pell. Pell is awarded for up to 12 semesters (6 years). When you hit the maximum you won’t get anymore.
Does FASFA stop giving funds after a student completes their Associates or Bachelors?
FAFSA is the financial aid application you fill out to apply for the Pell grant. The money comes from the federal government. If you’re eligible based on your finances you can get it for up to 12 semesters or until you get your bachelor’s degree.
By filing the FAFSA you may be eligible for the federal student loan. If you attended 2 years of college then it sounds like you’ll be able to borrow $7500/year for 2 years. If you’re low income, be careful about how much you borrow.
There’s a link for the NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) at the end of the FAFSA application or you can go to the HESC website to get it. You should complete that to see if you’re eligible for a grant from NYS.
What are some examples of a college goal? Is Liberal Arts a useless career direction for me? Can I keep on a Liberal Arts path and major in management or business?
Talk to an academic advisor. In my opinion, choosing a major for an associate’s degree that will allow you to get steady work right away is your best option. You can work on a bachelor’s from there.
Is it possible to get traction on a decent career without a Bachelors degree?
There are some 2-year degrees that lead to jobs. I think they’re more vocational jobs though like IT or nurse’s aide (maybe LPNs if they still have them).
How can I estimate my return on investment?
Pick a major that will allow you to get a job. The return I’d be aiming for would be steady employment.
How can I get a clear timeline for how long it will take to get an Associates degree or a Bachelors degree?
Talk to an academic advisor at one of the schools you’d like to attend. They can tell you what credits they’ll take and what you need to complete to get a degree.
How do adult students afford to attend college full time without any income?
They can’t. Most adult students work full-time and attend college part-time as they can afford it.
How will I pay rent and eat when I attend college?
You’ll have to work. Even if you got a NYS TAP grant, a federal Pell grant, and the federal student loan you still wouldn’t have enough to live on.
How do I find the right college that has internships?
Check with each school’s advising office to see what’s available.
And furthermore, how can I identify internship opportunities that are likely to block me from gaining entry? (So I can avoid them in advance)
Why do you think internship programs are going to “block you” from entry? Programs that get federal funds aren’t allowed to discriminate. Attitude matters a lot, and I think you could stand to be a little more positive. So far you’ve mentioned race, nationality, and the ability to read. If you’re not getting the opportunities you think you deserve it may have something to do with the way you come across to people. When you get to school make an appointment at the Career Development Office. They can help you practice interviews and give you tips for writing your resume too.