Student Aid Fund raises money through phone-a-thon

The 30 students who participated in Eastern’s recent phone-a-thon were not just helping out the Alumni Relations Office and making a little money. They were also helping themselves and their fellow students.

The phone-a-thon is a biannual event that raises money for Eastern’s Student Aid Fund. During its three-week phase in late October this year, the phone-a-thon contacted over 1,500 Eastern alumni and raised over $23,000, all of which went to the Student Aid Fund, according to alumni relations coordinator Kelly Van Der Aa. Van Der Aa supervised the phone-a-thon this year.

The SAF provides grants to students who qualify as financially needy after filing the FAFSA, according to Eastern’s Financial Aid website. During the 2003-2004 school year, 1.1 million dollars were distributed from the fund to 650 students to help them pay for Eastern.

“The Student Aid Fund is based solely on the students’ needs,” said Janet Long, executive director of Student Financial Services.

The money in the SAF comes from donations solicited by Eastern’s fundraising office, the development office, and various people and organizations, according to vice president of development Jim Rogers.

“Most of the money I raise is from people not connected to Eastern,” Rogers said. “These are people who just like what Eastern is and what it stands for.”

Other contributors to the SAF include faculty and staff at Eastern, according to Long.

“Most all of us do [contribute],” she said. “There are many people out there who are very generous year after year after year so students can come to Eastern.”

One such student is senior Amy Gorman.

“It’s made it easier on my parents,” Gorman said. “They have three kids in some form of education, so it’s hard. It’s nice that they give money so students don’t have to pay as much.”

In addition to enabling students to attend Eastern, SAF money helps keep tuition down because it reduces the amount of money Eastern has to pay for grants. Without the SAF money, Eastern would have to pay the grants out of its own pocket, according to Long.

In this way, SAF money benefits every student, according to Rogers.

“Every student receives SAF money,” he said. “You just don’t see it because you don’t see the total cost of your education.”

Rogers added that as a result of SAF money, every student’s tuition is about $1,000 less than it would be otherwise.

The ultimate purpose of the SAF is to help students graduate from Eastern University.

“It’s not all about the money,” Long said. “Graduation day is my victory day.”

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