Scholarship SupportOver the past two years, the Youngstown State University Foundation has implemented a strategic plan that has allowed the foundation to allocate a record $7.4 million dollars in scholarship support to the next academic year — a move that could attract qualified incoming students.

Though it operates independently of the univerity, the YSU Foundation has $215 million in assets used solely to support YSU and its students.

Paul McFadden, as president of the YSU Foundation, encourages alumni and friends to make donations to the foundation. He indicated that all of the foundation’s $215 million has been obtained by donations from alumni and friends of the university and by investment gains on those charitable dollars.

Under the foundation’s strategic plan, a new allocation policy was created that allows the organization to provide YSU with 4 percent of the endowment’s market value, increasing the amount of funds available to support scholarships.

“The YSU Foundation Board of Trustees is very interested in helping attract students,” McFadden said. “It is the Foundation’s hope that increasing scholarship dollars available to students will result in increased enrollment.”

Due to the Foundation’s new policy, scholarship allocations to the university have increased by $2.6 million over the past three years.

With the cost of higher education increasing and the economy slowly recovering from a recession, the bottom-line cost of higher education is one of the largest factors prospective students consider when choosing a school to attend.

Gary Swegan, YSU’s associative vice president for Enrollment Management, said the increase in available scholarship funds — coupled with YSU’s competitive pricing — could attract incoming students.

“The bottom-line cost is just incredibly important,” Swegan said. “The YSU Foundation now for two straight years has successively increased their contributions to the university, which I think will only help us.”

Though YSU’s Board of Trustees has voted to increase tuition by 2.4 percent starting next fall semester, YSU’s projected undergraduate tuition of $8,087 for the 2014-2015 remains low in comparison to other area four-year institutions.

Projected undergraduate tuition for Cleveland State University, Kent State University and the University of Akron is $9,736, $10,004 and $10,244 respectively.

Limited state funding — which has become increasingly tied to graduation rates — and a decrease in enrollment have led to a subsequent reduction in the university’s revenue over the past three years.

Available scholarship money could act as an incentive attracting qualified students to YSU, increasing graduation rates and bolstering the university’s state funding.

“We are trying to attract students that have the very best chance of being successful,” Swegan said.

McFadden agreed and added that the YSU Foundation will continue to make an effort to financially assist students.

“We are trying to get better so we can help students more,” McFadden said. “And we are.”