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Phonathon And The Eastern Fund: A Closer Look

It’s not news that college in America costs a lot of money. It’s definitely not news that Eastern University costs a lot of money, too. It certainly costs more than public schools, and you don’t want to point out how much some in-state tuitions are. That’s why it’s so hard for some people to believe that the tuition we each pay is only 84% of the actual cost to be a student here. This may initially seem absurd for a couple of reasons: 1.) The actual dollar amount we pay seems like it should be sufficient, and 2.) Where would the rest of the money come from? That’s where the Eastern Fund steps in.

The Eastern Fund is completely financed by alumni, parents, and other friends of the University, but its primary source is alumni. It goes toward every student’s tuition in an effort to keep our schooling affordable, as well as helping to fund campus improvements and technological advancements, like the new bridges we put in last year. The Eastern Fund is devoted to things from which everyone can benefit. It’s necessary, because as a private institution we don’t get as much financial help from the government as public schools. Public schools have tuition offset by state and national aid; private schools rely largely on the generosity of donors.

Alumni choose to give for many reasons, but they are all linked to fond memories of their experience at Eastern or a strong belief in what Eastern stands for. Even if an alum does nothing more than give up a Starbucks drink (or, more likely, a drink from somewhere like the Gryphon) and donate $5, their participation does a lot for our school. First of all, every dollar counts, even in such big monetary ventures like paying for school. Secondly, Eastern is actually rated in the U.S. News & World Report for the percentage of alumni that are willing to give back. This makes sense, because a willingness to support an institution financially clearly shows the donor’s approval and appreciation of the place. The higher our ranking is on this report, the more students come here, the more outside organizations take us seriously, and the more our diploma is worth in the career world.

The primary way that Eastern tries to raise money for the Eastern Fund is through the Phonathon. You may have heard of Phonathon; if you’re friends with me, you’ve heard a countdown till it begins, or you may have seen advertisements recruiting callers dispersed around campus. This job is really great, because our alumni are awesome for more than just their donations to help us pay for school. The primary reason we call alumni every year isn’t financial — it’s social. We want to hear what people are up to, send congratulations on marriages and baby bibs on new births. We want to make sure that our alumni still feel like part of the Eastern community, because without them Eastern wouldn’t be what it is today. We genuinely care about what our Eastern family is up to. At Phonathon, you’re gaining a lot more than funds for the school. You’re gaining relationships with alumni and stories about Eastern that range from heartwarming to humorous. Thanks to one alumni, I now know that back in the 80s, Eastern’s bridges weren’t stationary, and people would “float” them, making it impossible to get to classes, as a prank. Another told us about how he knew he was going to marry his wife from the first time he saw her – walking down Doane hill with the sun behind her. We’ve been given advice about how to meet our future significant others that ranges from the usual, like meeting someone in class, to the awkward, like standing by the pool until someone approaches you. We’ve prayed with and for alum, received career advice, shared updates about campus, and laughed over happy memories about this place we now share.

The Eastern Fund gives us the financial support to enjoy our time here, but it’s the community of past and present students that give us the support to create happy lasting memories. So please join me in gratitude for what we have been given and hope for our futures that will see us continually linked with the place we now call home.

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