Our view: To President Lefton, from a student

President Lester Lefton:

I’m going to ask you an enormous favor. I realize you’ve already committed more than $10,000 of your own money (your 3 percent raise) to student scholarships. And I know the rest of your cabinet has made the same commitment.

But I wonder would you be willing to forgo your 20 percent performance bonus, or part of it? That’s the full value of your bonus; this year it will be about $75,700.

And that’s almost exactly what my mom and dad make per year.

They have three children, including one in college – me. And even though I graduated high school at the top of my class, I’ve maintained above a 3.7 GPA at Kent State and, through those and other efforts, have kept several academic scholarships, this year it will be difficult for my family and me to pay for school.

And I know there are students who are worse off than me. There are students who don’t have a sparkling academic record, though not for lack of trying. There are students whose parents can’t offer any support at all.

The FAFSA estimated my parents’ family contribution to be more than $6,000, which was a big let-down. They’ll never afford that. Couple that with the slicing in half of the Ohio College Opportunity Grant and the 3.5 percent increase in tuition, and things are looking grim for me.

In my effort to get the most out of the college experience, I’m planning to study abroad in the spring. And that’s no small bill, especially as the value of the U.S. dollar continues to decline next to European currencies.

A few thousand dollars from the bonus you receive annually could make all the difference in my ability to reap the cultural and intellectual benefits that a university offers. In the traditional view, the idea of the university is to make better citizens by helping them to think, to develop vocational skills and to gain a common, foundational knowledge.

You subscribe to that understanding of your institution’s purpose. But the foundational knowledge won’t be so common if, more and more, only those with means can enroll.

You can help to make Kent State universal.

I know I’m asking a lot. People spend to their limit, and I’m sure you have plans for the $454,000 you’ll likely make during the next school year.

But the students you serve are struggling. Many of them see Kent State as a road block to their career rather than an opportunity in their lives. Though I don’t see it that way, the cost of this opportunity is becoming difficult to pay.

You’re obviously not obliged to do anything with your own money, but I’d appreciate your help.


Kent State student

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Summer Kent Stater editorial board.