Forever Buckeyes program rewards Ohio grads returning home


The Ohio Board of Regents and university officials said they hope that a tuition-oriented provision in the fiscal year 2012-2013 budget will increase Youngstown State University’s enrollment, expand the local workforce and keep Ohio high school graduates in Ohio colleges.

With the bill’s passing, the OBOR implemented the Forever Buckeyes program. With it, in-state tuition rates will be extended to the graduate of any public or private Ohio high school that has left the state and returns to enroll in an Ohio undergraduate or graduate program.

Prior to the program, returning students were required to regain residency, which took 12 months, before receiving in-state tuition.

“If our economy is to grow, we must do everything we can to attract and retain students of all ages to Ohio,” Ohio Chancellor Jim Petro said in a release statement. “The Forever Buckeyes program provides an incentive to attract these students back to Ohio to enroll in a wide rage of educational opportunities.”

Jack Fahey, vice president for student affairs and ombudsperson at YSU, said he would like to see an enrollment increase in Ohio universities and keep graduates in the state to work.

“It’s hard to say how [the plan] will help us in terms of enrollment,” Fahey said. “Our admissions director will be monitoring it closely.”

Susan Davis, director of undergraduate admissions at YSU, said that fewer than 10 students have moved back to Ohio and enrolled since the fall. 

“We haven’t seen many students in that situation,” Davis said. 

Davis added that because many undergraduates are younger and still living at home, they have not been put in a situation that that requires them to re-establish residency.

Kim Norris, communications director at OBOR, said the hope is that the plan will add to Ohio’s available workforce.

“We know one of the direct links to business needs is to have a workforce that is available,” Norris said.

Norris said the program gives individuals the opportunity to change or advance their career at a reduced rate without having to re-establish residency for an extended period.

Fahey added that YSU’s strategic plan includes growing its graduate school and hopes the program will aid in that.

Angie Urmson-Jeffries, coordinator of graduate recruitment and admissions, said the program has brought five students to the graduate school since August.

“It’s still a new program,” Urmson-Jeffries said. “We hope to see more students from this in the future.”

Urmson-Jeffries added that the students from out of state pay only an additional $8.76 per credit hour to attend YSU’s graduate school.