By Denise Dick
A $3 million commitment from the Youngstown Foundation will enable city school students to attend college with “last dollar” scholarships.
The foundation announced the program, called Y-STAR, at a news conference Tuesday morning.
The scholarships, ranging between $200 and $3,000, fill the gap between financial aid and the other costs of college, including fees, parking and books.
Janice Strasfeld, foundation executive director, said the goals of the program are increasing high-school graduation rates, increasing local college application and admission rates, increasing skilled workers in the region, encouraging families to value education, attracting more companies to the area that value a skilled work force, reducing high-school exit rates and raising student achievement.
Students who receive the Y-STAR scholarships must use them to attend Youngstown State University or Eastern Gateway Community College.
City schools Superintendent Connie Hathorn said he was researching programs in other states that help students pay for college when Strasfeld contacted him.
The program will help students map out their futures.
“They’ll see a clear picture of what’s going to happen after high school,” Hathorn said.
To be eligible, students must live in the city, enroll in the program as freshman, sophomores or juniors in the city schools beginning this school year, graduate with a minimum 2.0 grade point average and complete the financial-aid application.
Cynthia E. Anderson, YSU president, said the program is an example of the community coming together.
“Every single student that walks through our doors has needs, and obviously, financial need is a big one,” she said. “The more we can help them with those challenges, the better their chance of success.”
Laura Meeks, president of EGCC, said the last-dollar scholarships will eliminate the financial worry of parents regarding paying for their children’s education.
Mayor Charles Sammarone, a former educator in the city schools, said the Y-STAR program is a way to keep local talent in the area.
“In the city schools, it’s sometimes hard for good students to move on to college,” he said, adding that the program removes an obstacle to that.
Award amounts are based on the number of years a student is in the program. The first enrollment opportunity for incoming freshmen will be available this school year.
George Berlin, chairman of the Youngstown Foundation Distribution Committee, said the program will encourage students to stay in school.
“While nothing guarantees success, it guarantees the opportunity for success,” he said.
Anyone who wants to donate to the Y-STAR Fund may visit www.youngstownfoundation.org and click “donate now” or call 330-744-0320.