Trustees discuss increasing funds for scholarships
Most of the university's students receive some form of financial aid.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State University officials want to increase goal-based financial aid for students by more than 50 percent by the year 2009.
Thomas Maraffa, special assistant to the president, discussed changes and increases to student financial aid at Thursday's YSU Board of Trustees' Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting.
The university is expected to provide $5.75 million in goal-based scholarships to 2,362 students in the 2005-06 school year, he said. The goal for the 2009-10 school year is to increase that amount to $8.67 million.
That works out to an annual increase of about $730,000.
"It's not a major increase in the YSU budget," Maraffa said. "It will be built into the budget each year through budgetary growth and tuition increases."
Goal-based scholarship programs include financial aid to those who come to YSU with strong academic credentials and accomplishments, those who come from certain school systems and are in need of financial help, and students from Pennsylvania. YSU also gives grants to students for living in campus housing.
Those receiving scholarships pay, on average, 46 percent of YSU's tuition, Maraffa said.
For a full-time undergraduate student at YSU, tuition and fees for a year add up to $6,107.
YSU trustees in January approved, effective in the fall semester, a 9 percent increase: 6 percent for general tuition, 2 percent for technology, and 1 percent for financial aid. It would be the eighth tuition increase at YSU in the past eight years.
However, the state is capping tuition increases at state universities at 6 percent. John Habat, YSU's vice president for administration, said the university is going to have to scale back its increase to 6 percent.
That won't impact financial aid commitments the university has made to students for the next school year, Maraffa said. He also doesn't expect the reduced 6 percent tuition increase to impact the financial aid plan the university has for the next four years.
Among the changes Maraffa discussed Thursday was increasing the percentage of the scholarship budget for financially needy students from 7.3 percent now to 14.2 percent in 2009.
Maraffa also discussed increasing scholarships given to high school valedictorians from $3,000 annually now to $4,500 starting in 2007. He also wants to give $1,500 scholarships for incoming students with an ACT score of 22 to 24 and a high school grade point average of at least 3.0 beginning in 2007. Students don't receive any scholarship money for those achievements now.
Overall, 87 percent of YSU students receive some form of financial aid, totaling $83.9 million, Maraffa said. About 55.5 percent of those students receive financial aid through loans.
Also Thursday, the trustees' External Relations Committee heard a progress report on the university's ambitious, multimillion-dollar proposal to revamp the campus in time for its centennial in 2008. The proposal also seeks to create an endowment that would raise money to provide additional financial aid to students and to professors for research work.
George McCloud, YSU's special assistant for university advancement, said a group of about five people are meeting to discuss which aspects of the centennial plan should be implemented and the costs associated with them.
The money for the campus improvements, student financial aid, and research for professors would come from private donors and state funds, he said.
In March, the board discussed the centennial master plan.
The plan includes constructing a new building for the Williamson College of Business Administration, expanding Moser and Ward Beecher halls to house laboratories for life science and engineering, a major overhaul of Kilcawley Center to make it a true student center, remaking the outdoor area at the center of campus into a "green lawn" space, and continuing to integrate the campus into the immediate neighborhoods and the city's downtown.