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Uncovering the differences, accounts or aid

Eastern students know that when a bill needs to be paid or a paycheck cashed or a loan applied for, they must head to Mall Cottage, the tiny building situated neatly between McInnis and Walton. Once in the door, however, students are faced with a tough decision: choosing which counter to direct their question, financial aid or student accounts.

Unraveling the confusion about the offices of financial aid and student accounts begins by understanding what each office does and how they differ.

According to the student accounts’ website, student accounts “facilitate[s] the arrangements of paying for your education,” while financial aid is in charge of grants, scholarships and fellowships.

Anna Reese, director of financial aid, breaks it down simply.

“We [financial aid] give the money, they [student accounts] take it,” she says.

If a charge is involved, student accounts handles the transaction; if it is aid (such as scholarships, which come from either outside or internal sources) then financial aid handles it.

According to Reese, financial aid deals with “making sure all the paperwork is right.” For example, financial aid may certify a loan, but student accounts ensures that it is listed on a student’s bill. Student accounts is also in charge of health insurance, bills and payments.

While financial aid handles FAFSA forms and paperwork for loans and scholarships, it is also in charge of students who work on campus. This may seem contradictory to Reese’s give and take explanation, but due to the federal work study program and its necessary government procedures for federal aid, paychecks are currently handled by the financial aid office. Reese, however, hopes for moving this responsibility to student accounts.

It seems that communication between the offices is key, and students may wonder how (or if) that communication takes place. Reese and Janet Long, executive director of student financial services, assure students it happens daily. Recently, both offices have begun to utilize instant messenger for communication purposes. Long calls it “a useful tool.” Reese disagrees, however, and does not use it herself.

“We’re in the same building,” she says, indicating that a walk around the corner will be enough for her.

But Reese has gone a lot further than just around the corner with her job. She has also been involved with an effort to save the Perkins Program, which gives aid to students who show “exceptional need” after filing their FAFSA, according to the financial aid website, because President Bush is proposing to eliminate it. Reese was recently in Washington, D.C. trying to help save the program.

Financial aid and student accounts are concerned with the students and, though both handle a lot of money, the tasks they handle are unique. When entering Mall Cottage, students only have to decide if they’re hoping to get money or give it up.

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