The Penguin Tuition Promise

By David Ford

The Youngstown State University Board of Trustees approved a tuition initiative, which sets up a guaranteed tuition rate for incoming students on Dec. 7.

Known as the Penguin Tuition Promise (PTP), the plan will become effective for first-time students enrolled during summer 2018.

According to a YSU press release on Dec. 7, tuition will remain frozen over four years of a student’s enrollment. From summer 2018 until spring 2022, yearly tuition will remain consistent at $8,899.

YSU President Jim Tressel said in the press release that the tuition plan will allow families to plan their student’s education much more efficiently.

“The Penguin Tuition Promise provides all first time undergraduate students and their families the certainty that tuition will remain the same for four years as they pursue degrees,” Tressel said. “It makes the cost more predictable, it helps families better plan financially and encourages students to complete their degrees on time.”

Under the PTP, tuition rates will remain the same for four years during students’ pursuits of a bachelor’s degree.

Neal McNally, vice president of finance and business operations, said tuition guarantee plans, like the PTP, are subject to strict state laws.

“State law requires that tuition guarantee plans last for four years,” McNally said. “The law prohibits universities from creating plans that are shorter or longer than four years.”

McNally said the PTP only applies to undergraduate students enrolling for the first time during summer 2018. He also said the PTP should add more incentive for students to complete their undergraduate degree in four years.

“The PTP should incentivize students to complete a baccalaureate program within a four-year period, lest be faced with a tuition increase in year five,” McNally said.

The $8,899 tuition and mandatory fees, room and board will cost around $9,400 per each academic year. Under the PTP, room and board rates will remain unchanged over the four years, as stated in the press release.

According to the press release, both these rates remain the lowest among public universities in Ohio, nearly $1,500 under the state average.

YSU Provost Martin Abraham said the PTP was initially conceived to address any students’ financial concerns up front.

“We’re hopeful that the assurance of a known price can allow access to some students who might otherwise not be able to consider enrolling,” Abraham said. “It helps students who need to work or take loans to better plan their financial challenges and can encourage students to graduate in four years.”

Abraham said he believes the plan is a great opportunity for YSU students; an opportunity that could increase enrollment.

“We remain hopeful that the guarantee can provide some benefits that will allow in an increased enrollment,” Abraham said. “We’re also hopeful the assurance allows for more financial stability and more efficient financial planning.”

In addition to the PTP, the university has launched several initiatives to help students graduate in a timely manner.

The additional initiatives include reducing required credit hours for bachelor’s degree completion from 124 to 120, as well as the introduction of the Penguin Jump Start program. This program allows incoming students to take up to six credit hours for $500 courses, increasing the tuition bulk rate by two hours, from 12-16 to 12-18, according to the press release.

The press release states the two-credit-hour bump comes at no additional cost.