Eric Wang

The Yale Panhellenic Council plans this semester to launch its first financial aid program, which will help members of each of Yale’s four sororities — Alpha Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi — cover the cost of membership dues.

Each sorority will receive roughly $200 to use for financial aid, according to Panhellenic Council President Lucy Friedmann ’19. Members of the council will vote this weekend to decide the exact amount of money each sorority will receive, she said.

“We decided that as a body, we have the capacity to give more money,” Friedmann said. “It’ll be up to each sorority’s discretion whether they give it to one person or distribute it among people who need financial aid.”

At the start of rush season, students pay a fee to register for sorority recruitment. This year’s fee was $15. Friedmann said the funding for the new financial aid program will come from registration fees the council collected in previous years and has saved.

But some have expressed doubt that $200 per sorority is enough to make any material change. Kat Corfman ’21, who participated in this year’s rush but decided not to join a sorority, said she appreciated the Panhellenic Council’s efforts to make Greek life more accessible at Yale but is unsure whether $200 would “make much of a dent,” considering the total cost of dues for each member.

Sorority members pay dues ranging between $350 and $750, and each group already offers some form of financial assistance. Alpha Phi requires new members to pay $750 for their first semester, $430 for their second semester and $350 for subsequent semesters, according to Alpha Phi Vice President of Finance Sienna Gough ’19. Kappa asks new members to pay $495 and active members to pay $395 every subsequent semester, according to Kappa President Raeven Grant ’19.

According to a document from last year’s sorority recruitment, Pi Phi required members to pay $665 for their first semester and $411 for each subsequent semester. Theta required new members to pay $662 for their first two semesters, and active members to pay $487 in the fall semester and $395 in the spring semester. The leaderships of Pi Phi and Theta did not respond to requests for comment on whether their membership dues have changed this year.

In the fall, Yale’s Alpha Phi chapter, the newest sorority on campus, launched an alumni-funded financial assistance program for its members to help cover the cost of dues. The sorority solicited donations from Alpha Phi alumnae in Connecticut and the families of current members, Gough said.

“The worst thing is to go through rush and then realize it’s not financially feasible to join,” Gough said. “Obviously all money raised through fundraising is donated to charity and that’s not going to pay members’ dues, so we had to get a little creative in getting donations for financial aid.”

The chapter’s advisor — who is not affiliated with Yale — awards aid to students based on their applications and information about their Yale financial aid packages, according to Gough. Students’ financial information remains confidential throughout this process, she said, and the chapter advisor reads all applications so that members do not have to discuss their financial situations with their peers.

Kappa members may apply for scholarships from the Kappa Foundation each semester, according to Grant, and Yale’s chapter also reduces the amount that members have to pay for dues under a “special status.” Grant explained that members requesting financial aid can send her their reasons for applying and discuss reduced dues with her. Typically, around two Kappa members pay lower dues each semester under this status.

Grant added that the sorority strives to “keep our dues as low as possible” to ensure that Kappa remains accessible.

Pi Phi members may apply for national scholarships from the Pi Beta Phi Foundation, according to Eily Cummings, senior director of marketing and communications at Pi Beta Phi. The national organization also offers emergency financial assistance for members in “dire financial crisis.” These grants and scholarships are intended to fund “educational expenses,” Cummings said, and cannot be applied to membership dues.

Theta typically offers to cover a percentage of dues commensurate to half of the percentage of financial aid that the student receives from Yale, and members may make a case for higher percentages of aid, according to last year’s rush document.

The Panhellenic Council also provided shirts for this year’s rushees to wear at the first recruitment event. Friedmann said this new initiative aimed to make the rush process “more equitable” so that women would not be judged based on their clothing.

Alpha Phi recruited its charter class in the fall of 2015.

Alice Park | alice.park@yale.edu