By Tala Alsharif and Elizabeth Coss
Students at Youngstown State University are guaranteed a price-locked tuition plan known as the Penguin Promise, but incoming freshmen will be paying more than their predecessors.
Each year since 2019, the cost of tuition at the university adjusts based on a variety of factors, according to Neal McNally, the chief finance officer at YSU.
McNally said tuition was raised by 3% — or to $5,361.36 a semester — compared to the 2022-23 academic years’ rate of $5,205.24 because of inflation.
“[YSU] increased or adjusted the Penguin Promise cohort rate by 3%. It’s really not an increase because the students who are paying that rate are new students, so they’ve never paid anything,” McNally said.
The state of Ohio proposes an increase for public universities to raise the cost of higher education each year. This year, the increase was the lowest percent increase YSU has seen in five years.
“The first year was 4.1%, the second year was 3.8%. The third year — which was last year — was 4.6%. That’s the highest year,” McNally said. “Any adjustments in our tuition rates going forward would be nominal to 3%.”
Undergraduate students, including international and part-time students returning for their second, third or fourth year won’t see an increase in tuition.
However, students who surpass the four-year threshold of their Penguin Promise tuition guarantee are automatically placed into the following year’s cohort rate.
The following year’s cohort rate is dependent on when a student enrolled in the university — and the rate would apply to the student until it expires or until the student is no longer enrolled — meaning students on a five-year track or longer will see an increase in tuition.
While students may be feeling the effects of higher costs, McNally said the university is as well.
“Costs this year are expected to go up by over $500,000,” McNally said.
Furthering IT Services and cybersecurity are some reasons why McNally expects costs to increase. However, McNally explained he also expects an increase in state funding to ease cost pressures such as inflation.
“The operating budget depends mostly on what’s called the State Share of Instruction funding, which is the core subsidiary that we get,” McNally said. “Our state funding … It’s about $48 million a year. Believe it or not, the state is still finalizing its calculations. We think we’re going to get an increase.”
McNally also explained the university feels pressure to keep costs low, including tuition rates.
“It turns out that tuition polls very well and I think voters have let the legislature know that they’re very unhappy with the price increases they’ve seen,” McNally said. “It makes it tough on us because expenses are going up faster and faster. That’s where it gets difficult and challenging financially to get everything to a balance.”
For students interested in understanding tuition costs and what financial aid may be available, visit the University Bursar website.