Laptop Loaner Program provides computers for students

By Mia Albaugh

Youngstown State University’s Penguin Plugin Loaner Program has a large availability of personal devices for students to rent.

Sharyn Zembower, manager of the IT Service Desk, said the Laptop Loaner Program is an inexpensive and beneficial opportunity for students provided by YSU.

“Currently, we still have about 400 laptops available for the Dell 2-in-1 [laptops] and MacBook Pros combined,” Zembower said. 

According to the YSU website, the program is in place to alleviate the costs of laptops, which can be financially difficult for students to purchase.

For the first two semesters, rentals through the program are free. After that, students will be charged $50 per semester for personal device rentals.

In Mahoning County, 87% of households have access to a computer, compared to the 90% of overall Ohio households with access to a computer, according to the Ohio 2020 Census.

Nearly 80% of homes in Mahoning County have access to a broadband internet spectrum, as 82% of homes in Ohio have access.

YSU’s Penguin Plugin Loaner Program has options for students without access to the internet as well.

“We do have mobile hot spots through the emergency broadband program with T-Mobile,” Zembower said. “If they are Pell [Grant]-eligible students, they can apply to receive a mobile hot spot.”

On YSU’s campus, students are free to use Wi-Fi for their personal devices. There are also study spaces with accessible PCs open, but the hours are limited. After hours, students must find other places to go for these resources.

Maag Library provides access to computers, outlets for recharging personal devices, Wi-Fi and a quiet place for students to study. The disadvantage of this location is the library’s hours are only from 7:30 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Spaces are available in the student center. 

According to the YSU website, Kilcawley Center is open:

  • 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday
  • 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday
  • 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday
  • 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays

James Yukech, AVP chief information officer of YSU, said there are plans in place to improve the laptop loaner program, but there are no set dates to implement these changes.

“Next year, we’re planning on putting in a kiosk where you can buy Dell or Apple devices at the university discount,” Yukech said.

According to Yukech, the kiosk will be in Kilcawley Center near the service desk.

A student would be able to see laptop models available and discount prices. Students can get additional support with device repairs, Yukech said.

“If you buy it from us, and you buy a support package with it, you’ll be able to bring it back here. We’ll give you a like for like loaner,” said Yukech. “You’ll be able to use a loaner that whole time.”