Tuition Promise, Parking Changes

By Jordan Unger

As Youngstown State University incorporates its Penguin Tuition Promise in the fall 2018 semester, changes to the parking system are also expected for incoming students.

Danny O’Connell, director of parking services, recently met with Neal McNally, vice president of finance and business operation, to discuss these changes.

PTP, a plan which guarantees a four-year tuition freeze for incoming freshmen, comes at the same time as the scheduled increase to parking fees on campus. O’Connell said the state chancellor suggested YSU move to a tier parking system.

The new system is expected to give incoming students the option of purchasing a day permit, which will allow parking between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., or a 24-hour overnight permit.

Overnight parking will be limited to designated areas, such as the parking decks or specified lots. Students with overnight permits will not be allowed to leave their vehicles in day lots between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Per the expected plan, new students would not see a transportation fee on their bill. Exact prices for the permits are undecided, but he said the day permit will be roughly $40 to $50 and the overnight permit will be roughly $90 to $100.

He said this is a transition away from everyone charging fees equally to a system based on use.

“If you don’t have a car, you won’t be paying it, or if two brothers or a brother and sister are coming down here and they share one car, now only one of them will be paying it,” O’Connell said.

Student Government Association President Rayann Atway said this is a push in the right direction, considering the issues that parking services has faced.

“They’ve been running into problems this year with commuter students spending nights in the residence halls, taking up spots in the residential lots, so they just want to mitigate that problem,” Atway said.

According to O’Connell, the new system would not affect current students.

“When you go into your portal to order parking, if you’re a current student, it’s going to take you to the same page and you’re going to have the same options that you have now,” he said. “Nothing really is going to change.”

Parking services is collaborating with information technology on campus to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible for students requesting parking permits. Current students will not see where there is an additional charge for permits, and new students will never see a transportation fee.

“There won’t be confusion,” he said.

Still, O’Connell said he expects it to be a challenging transition from the current system to a new one.

“Four years from now, we will have five sets of fees,” he said. “One for the freshmen, one for the sophomores, one for the juniors, one for the seniors and one for all of us who were grandfathered in because we are under the old system.”

If students go past four years, O’Connell said they will likely move into the next cohort up.

Although the funds will not rise as quickly as they would if all students were impacted by the increase, he said the university will make it work. Funds from the increase will contribute to bonds and parking space replacement on campus.

Ernie Barkett, vice president of SGA, said this should help the university keep on track with eventually replacing the Fifth Avenue parking deck and adding more infrastructure.

“They’re saying that with the new revenue, they should be able to stay on that plan,” Barkett said. “If you look long-term, while this is sort of a new fee students will have to pay… in four to five years this is going to be a big improvement to parking.”

He said one thing that McNally wants to move away from is closed gates, which can have costly upkeep.

“Since the gates are getting old now and starting to malfunction, he said they are really going to focus on enforcement,” Barkett said. “Parking services will start to go through lots more often and really just increase their usage of employees they have.”

The move away from gated parking lots is something O’Connell said he hopes will continue.

“People see gated lots as not helping security. They’re a traffic control,” O’Connell said. “I like to see the gates up.”

Barkett said the university would also not have to pay as much for students to work the gates.

“It saves cost on upkeep in the long run, it saves cost on labor in the long run and I want to put all of the money we can into infrastructure,” he said. “We need new decks. We need new lots. That’s the end goal.”

The plan for parking changes is expected to be finalized within the next month.