Is there a way to attach aliases to a name?

Is there a way to attach aliases to a name so that when you search on Thomas Jones, Tom Jones will also appear in your results? I work in a college setting, and our prospects often use a nickname on an inquiry form or when they call, but they are in the system with a full name.  Wondering if you can assign an alias to Thomas Jones where if he calls in and says Tom Jones, his full name record will come up in the system.  Or if you merge names, will it retain one as an alias?

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