Students looking to join a sorority at Yale University may soon have financial assistance to do so.
The Yale Panhellenic Council announced Feb. 9 that it intends to start a financial aid program that will give $200 to each of the four sororities on Yale's campus.
According to Yale Daily News, the program is intended to begin this Spring. The sororities will choose how they want to distribute the money among members to help with the payment of dues.
The funding for the program comes from a $15 registration fee which students pay the Panhellenic Council at the beginning of sorority rush. Individual sororities at Yale so far have provided their own financial assistance through scholarships tied to national foundations and alumni funds.
“We decided that as a body, we have the capacity to give more money,” Panhellenic Council President and Yale junior Lucy 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.”
Yale is not the first institution to take steps to lower the barriers to entry into Greek life.
At Penn, students have indicated that sorority membership dues often pose a significant obstacle for students from lower-income backgrounds. In 2015, the cost of joining a sorority for freshmen not living in-house ranged from $550 to $917 for the spring semester.
The cost of membership dues is not covered by financial aid, although individual sororities may choose to offer scholarships or reduced rates to students who cannot afford the fees.
In response to these barriers, the Panhellenic Council at Penn founded the Panhellenic Scholarship Fund in 2013 to “help multiple women who need financial assistance with their sorority dues.” That year the fund split $3540 between 12 recipients and in 2016 it provided $3,830 to 17 recipients.
At Cornell University and Columbia University, financial aid does not cover sorority membership fees, though sororities at the two schools have the option of offering their own financial aid.
Recipients of financial aid at Cornell may request additional loans to cover the increased cost of Greek organization housing. At Columbia, there is a school-wide Panhellenic Award offered to its six sororities, reported the Columbia Spectator. Last fall, this award covered dues for three students for one semester.
Members of the Yale Panhellenic Council voted this past weekend on the exact amount of funds each sorority will receive for the semester.