Small Funds Go a Long Way

By John Stran

Acquiring outside funding can be the lifeblood of college for many students. Scholarships, grants and donations to a university can add necessary resources, creating stability and growth for students and faculty.

Smaller financial resources have been made available to researching faculty across Youngstown State University.

The Office of Assessment recently distributed $10,000 in mini-grants to some faculty across campus. Recipients were awarded for their projects involving research expected to benefit YSU students.

Joy Tang, assistant professor of psychology, received $2,500 to research the effectiveness of a graph that studies family relationships, known as an emotion map, in improving students’ emotional, social and academic outcomes.

Tang said her project will cost more than the amount she received for her mini-grant, but it will help her get a start on her work. Her grant will be used to pay student participants in her study.

If student loans are the main or only source used to pay tuition, it’s possible these loans will dry up and another main source will have to substitute paying off a YSU bill.

YSU’s emergency fund is one option for nearly graduated students who have exhausted their subsidized and unsubsidized loans, along with possibly their Pell grant.

Elaine Ruse, director of the office of financial aid and scholarships, said the emergency fund is for students who are a semester or two away from graduation and are low on fiscal resources.

“For the emergency fund, we work on a case to case basis with someone close to graduation,” she said. “We’ll have them bring academic advisor evaluations and help them apply for on-campus scholarships.”

Ruse said she worked with the YSU Foundation a few years ago to create miscellaneous funding for that specific purpose, after she noticed students running low on financial aid becoming a more frequent issue.

“If someone is that close to graduating, we definitely feel a responsibility to try and help them,” she said.

Similar funding can be found on other college campuses as well.

An article by The Hechinger Report reported that the University of North Carolina-Charlotte began offering a $1,000 completion grant or gold-rush grant to students in their senior year.

95 percent of students who received this completion grant either graduated or continued toward their graduation date.

Ruse noticed many of the YSU students who received emergency funding come back to her office and thank her for helping them graduate.

The perks of this funding are slightly lessened by its limitability. Ruse said the fund is a very small amount and may not be able to help every student, which is why she stresses the importance of only borrowing the needed amount.

Ruse said the different colleges at YSU may be able to help students looking for different types of financial resources.

In the Department of Communication at YSU, the junior and senior level honors society Lambda Pi Eta offers grant opportunities for its members, as well as early access to different student employment opportunities.

Jeff Tyus, assistant professor in the department of communication and advisor for Lambda Pi Eta, said members also receive early access to companies that reach out to YSU looking for students to do things for them like run their social media platforms.

“With each of these, there are no guarantees that Lambda members will gain employment,” Tyus said.  “But to have early access to the opportunities has been beneficial to Lambda Pi Eta members in the past and I anticipate it will continue to be beneficial in the future.”

To try and avoid a last minute bind, Ruse said students should be educated in financial aid. She advised that students apply to as many grants and scholarships as they can and as early possible.