Originally Published  on August 26, 2011 in The Eastern Echo

You might or might not know this, but college is expensive. Food, housing, books, tools, tuition, and if you’re like most of age students, beer, are all greedily waiting to rob your already sparse pockets. Most people just deal with the financial drain but, in this economy, that’s not always an option.

“With this economy being in the shape it’s in, it’s no longer about the cost of college versus having a good time,” Eastern Michigan University second year psychology student John Murray said. “Now it’s my education versus the things I need to survive.”

In this financial climate, a smart person would take some time to find out how he or she could save a few bucks on the bigger expenses. An even smarter person would try to find a discount on everything. For EMU students, faculty, staff and alumni, there is no better way to shop local and save money than the Eagle Discount Card Program.

The Eagle Discount Card Program is a partnership between the Ypsilanti Area Chamber of Commerce and EMU that helps cash strapped students save money at over 120 Ypsilanti-area businesses.

Unlike grocery store discount programs, you won’t have to clutter your key ring with yet another useless tag. If you have an Eagle Card, an Eagle One Card or an Ypsilanti Area Chamber of Commerce Discount Card you’re already in the program. All you have to do is flash your card at one of the businesses displaying the green and black Eagle Discount Card Program decal to save up to 50 percent on food, eye wear, gym memberships and other useful things.

Before researching for this article, I had no idea what the program was about or the benefits it provided. In the three years that I have been attending EMU I have never had more than a passing knowledge of its existence.

When I began to ask around about EMU student’s use and knowledge of the program, I got the feeling that I was not alone.

“I’d heard of the Eagle Discount thing,” EMU student Tyrel Bower said. “Something about businesses that give discounts to students, but I was never really told more about it nor where to find out what businesses participated in it.”

That’s a shame because the program is really quite useful.

For example, if you’re starving but low on funds, why not stop by Mr. Pizza? With the Eagle Discount Program you can save 50 percent off all pizzas and bread sticks. Maybe you’re chilling with some friends at the Deagle (Double Eagle Coney Island). There you can save 5 percent off your entire order. What about late night? The Tap Room is offering 15 percent off any food purchase.

If you’re going to be channeling Emeril Lagasse, you can shop for groceries at Von’s Supermarket and save 5 percent storewide.

Since new regulations at the state level recently caused thousands of students to lose their food assistance benefits, this should be a welcomed relief.

Food is great, but what about when you’re stomach is sated and you’re looking for a little local fun? You can stop by Putterz on Washtenaw and get one dollar off any golf ticket. You can get two dollars off at the Michigan Firehouse Museum. If you’re up for catching up and coming bands live in concert, music venue Savoy is offering a three dollar discount at the door with your card.

Say you’ve got plans but are looking for something cute to wear and make everyone green with envy, then Puffer Reds has you covered with a 20 percent discount storewide.

The benefits of the Eagle Discount Program are great for you, but they are also great for local businesses. Your patronage helps maintain Ypsilanti’s local economy.

“It’s a reminder that we are here for students,”said Paul Balcom co-owner of The Rocket, a store in Ypsilanti’s downtown area that specializes in all things cute, quirky and kitsch. “We don’t get many people who use it, but it does help.”

Finances being as they are for most of us, having a few extra green backs may mean the difference between getting your degree and being forced to drop out.

The Eagle Discount Card Program might not cure cancer. But it can help you save a nice chuck of change on the items and services you are already using. If you pair it with physical coupons, or online deals from sites like Groupon and Living Social, you could soon find your ends, that were once strangers, are now comfortably snuggled up together with a yummy pizza they got at a discount.

The vendors are as varied as the discounts they offer. For a full list of program partners and the details on their specific discounts you can visit the Eagle Discount Program home page at www.emich.edu/eaglediscount.

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