YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The rising cost of a college education is a challenge for many students and their families. WKBN Community Affairs Director Dee Crawford, who led YSU’s board of trustees in recent years, talks about options with retiring YSU President Jim Tressel.

Keeping college attainable and affordable is a goal for YSU.

“Probably one of our greatest advantages is our affordability. We’re so blessed to have the YSU Foundation, which gives us over $10 million worth of scholarships for our students. The state subsidy has remained solid. We wish it was more. Our tuition, to begin with, is, I think the 13th ranked out of 14, meaning lower, which is a big thing for us,” Tressel said.

It’s still an expensive venture. Twenty-five years ago there wasn’t an IT budget like there is today. There is so much technology that’s involved in education now with state and federal mandates.

“We didn’t have a lot of services. You think about the amount of investment we have in mental health counseling. You know, I talk to my friends in K through 12 and they’re talking about I have a nephew who’s a vice principal in Columbus. They’ve added five mental health counselors to their staff just because of the need. And so, I think like every other business, there are new things that have become a part of the world,” Tressel said.

The goal is to minimize debt. In the last few years, YSU’s average student debt of a graduate was about $18,000.

“We’re now down into the $15,000 range, which if you take the national average, it’s up to near that $30,000 range and beyond,” Tressel said. “When you talk about professional schools, law schools, dental schools and so forth, so it’s talked about constantly. It’s a hard one because things cost more. Students expect more services.

Budgeting is key. That is one thing Tressel learned early on.

“Until your plan is right, your plan becomes your budget and all you do is wrangle over your budget. If you get the right plan in place, you’ll be able to create the revenue needed and the priorities in place to handle that budget,” he said.

Remote learning is a big player now and it’s going to have an impact on the budget in the future, but things are happening at a slower pace here.

“It’s interesting. I think we were a little slow to the game on the online part of things. COVID all of a sudden mandated that we figure that out. Now all of a sudden, I think there’s a little bit more of a comfort level in it. I think students have some interest. I don’t think they want to be totally online,” Tressel said. “I think that interaction with that professor talking to them after class is life-changing. But I think the future is going to be a hybrid approach. I really believe that it’s going to be some online, which will make it a little bit more affordable in some ways, but you can’t lose that in-person time.”

Tuesday, Dee takes us In-Depth with Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Carla Baldwin. They’ll look at how the city court system tries to stop defendants from showing up in front of a judge a second time.