New IFC scholarship will offer financial aid to students

Mark Duanmu, Reporter

A new scholarship created by the Northwestern Interfraternity Council will give students with financial need greater access to fraternity life. The application for the scholarship, announced by the IFC in an open letter released Tuesday night, is currently open to any fraternity member at NU seeking financial assistance.

The idea for the need-based scholarship came after an IFC retreat during Winter Quarter, when IFC executive members agreed there was a need for more socioeconomic diversity within Greek life, IFC president Will Altabef said.

“We had done analytic research with ISBE, and they found that financial need is a main reason many recruited members to fraternities don’t join,” Altabef said. “So we definitely wanted to create a top-down form of financial assistance for potential new members and also existing new members.”

The announcement comes after increased discussion on campus about diversity in Greek life. In March, University President Morton Schapiro sent out a letter indicating that by 2020, the University aims to have 20 percent of its students be eligible for a Pell Grant. Julian Gerez, IFC vice president for standards, cites Schapiro’s letter as an indication that Greek life should be more accessible.

“We wanted to make sure that as Northwestern grows more socioeconomically diverse, that all new students have a chance at joining Greek life, despite financial need,” said Gerez, a former Daily staffer.

Gerez said the funding for the scholarship will come from IFC’s operational budget, but the group is working with Fraternity and Sorority Life to look at additional funding options.

The scholarship application includes four questions, asking applicants about their involvement in Greek life, involvement in the NU community at large and degree of financial need. Gerez indicated, however, that the degree of expressed financial need would be the main factor being considered when reviewing applications.

“Financial need is the most important factor, but although we would like to give out scholarships to every student who needs it, we may not be able to,” Gerez said. “Which is why we ask about level of commitment within the Greek community and about students’ involvement in the Northwestern community in general.”

Although most fraternities already have scholarships, they are almost all merit-based.

“Most of the students being served by fraternity scholarships are already established leaders within the Greek community,” Gerez said. “And we wanted to help fraternity members that are just entering greek life, but might potentially drop out because of financial reasons.”

Sam Hall, Sigma Phi Epsilon president, said these scholarships will help open up the Greek community to students who otherwise wouldn’t have the funds to join fraternities.

People will be able to really understand that fraternities aren’t exclusive,” he said. “They’re really working to be as inclusive as possible.”

Mariana Alfaro contributed reporting.

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