By Denise Dick
More city high-school students are on pace to take advantage of a Youngstown Foundation program that helps pay for college.
YSTAR provides “last-dollar scholarships” for city high-school students who want to attend either Youngstown State University or Eastern Gateway Community College.
“The first year it was in operation [last year], there were 450 [high-school] freshmen that were eligible to sign up, and 310 went on to their sophomore year,” said Janice Strasfeld, executive director of the Youngstown Foundation.
“They’ve all earned the first $1,000.”
The class of 2016 from city schools, last year’s freshmen, are the first students eligible to realize the full benefit of the program.
This year’s sophomores and juniors also are eligible.
“The second year, 302 started and 302 signed up, and it’s projected that 283 will complete the second round,” Strasfeld said. “It’s really significant.”
Students must meet all high-school graduation requirements within four years and maintain at least a 2.0 grade-point average. They have to complete two- consecutive years in the city school system, including their senior year.
Students are eligible to receive $1,000 toward their college education for each year they complete in the city school system, up to $3,000. They also must graduate from the district.
Douglas Hiscox, deputy superintendent for academic affairs, said more students have been showing interest in the program.
To apply, students complete a form.
“It’s very easy, very straightforward,” Strasfeld said.
“They just write a sentence or two, telling their vision at this stage of their life for post-secondary education and then keep up the good work.”
Last-dollar scholarships are those applied after other aid is exhausted. The money may be used to pay for parking, books, fees or the last portion of tuition not financed by other means.
The Youngstown Foundation’s initial commitment is $3 million.
The goal of the program is to encourage students to have vision to pursue post-secondary education as part of their life-long plan, Strasfeld said.
“And we will help them get there,” she said.