IFC debuts new financial aid initiative

by Mary Winters | 10/11/18 3:00am

On Sept. 28, the Interfraternity Council announced a new financial aid initiative, though not all fraternities were in agreement.

An email sent out to campus announced participating fraternities will guarantee that they will provide, at a minimum, the same percentage of financial aid that a student receives from the College by working directly with the Office of Financial Aid rather than relying on members to self-report their financial need. However, only eight IFC houses signed onto the initiative instead of all 12.

  While the four houses that did not sign on to the new initiative are similarly committed to providing aid, the houses preferred to use their own financial aid systems.

Beta Alpha Omega fraternity, Bones Gate fraternity, Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity, Chi Heorot fraternity, Gamma Delta Chi fraternity, Phi Delta Alpha fraternity, Psi Upsilon fraternity and Theta Delta Chi fraternity signed onto the initiative. The remaining four IFC fraternities, Alpha Chi Alpha, Kappa Kappa Kappa, Sigma Nu and Zeta Psi have not.

              Nevertheless, IFC president Yoga Acharya ’19 emphasized that all fraternities are offering financial aid, and that he does not know of any situations where a member has needed financial aid and not received it.

Tri-Kap and Zete both sent out emails shortly after the IFC, emphasizing their commitment to financial aid despite their decision to not participate in the new initiative.

According to Beta president Charles Gilmore ’19, Beta was not consulted before the IFC email was sent out to campus. 

Gilmore said that Beta has always maintained a policy of matching school funds and being need-blind in terms of the fraternity recruitment process. 

“The process is just a little bit more formalized,” he said. “Our way of figuring out who was on financial aid and how to best approach the issue with them was a little bit haphazard and like I said, we just have more support and more guidance from the College now in doing so.”

TDX treasurer Matthew Hayes ’19 said that signing onto the program was an easy choice for TDX, adding that TDX has always matched the school’s percentage of financial aid, sometimes even exceeding that amount on a case-by-case basis. 

“We didn’t really change anything, [but it’s] really an awesome thing to see that the Greek system’s moving forward and promoting financial inclusivity as a big part of what the system means,” Hayes said. 

Hayes also said that in the past, brothers who were on the fence about joining TDX for financial reasons decided to join after learning the house’s commitment to financial aid. TDX’s robust financial aid program is a point of pride, he said. 

Alpha Chi president Fisher Katlin ’19 said that Alpha Chi, which did not sign on to the initiative,  has its own financial aid program. 

“We have had a robust system for financial aid that is much better than this financial inclusivity thing that they’re trying to get fraternities to sign on[to],” Katlin said. 

Though his fraternity is not signing onto the IFC initiative, Alpha Chi is slightly modifying its financial aid program to improve it, according to Katlin. 

He added that in the past, the house has met financial need through scholarships of either half or full dues, but now it will implement a new system with either three or four tiers. In this new financial aid system, Katlin said the College will inform Alpha Chi’s alumni board treasurer Kevin Francfort ’15 about which new members are eligible for aid, and Francfort will then pass that information along to the president and treasurer of Alpha Chi. 

“In [the initiative’s] original form, it wasn’t going to make sense for us to sign onto it,” Katlin said, adding that it would unnecessarily complicate Alpha Chi’s financial aid system.

Sig Nu president Tyler Ansel ’19 said that his fraternity opted out of the program because it would complicate a process that is already working well. Ansel noted that Sig Nu takes a very holistic approach when it comes to assigning aid, adding that increased verification with the College about members’ financial situations would create unnecessary stress. 

“As a brother [who] receives financial aid, the house has always been very generous,” he said. 

Ansel noted that Sig Nu may still join the initiative in the future. According to him, he wants to give members of the Class of 2020 — who will soon be in charge — time to see whether or not the initiative is successful and then decide on their own whether to opt-in. 

“It [is] just a matter of waiting to see what happens,” Ansel said.

According to Raphael Huang ’21, who is a new member in Zete this term, the fraternity’s decision to opt out of the initiative was “not a problem.” 

“From my understanding, [Zete] actually give[s] better financial aid than the plan that Dartmouth was doing, so [the house] decided to opt out of it,” Huang said. 

He added that Zete sent out an email before shakeout, clarifying that the fraternity is not part of the program but would still give financial aid to new members.

“It was important that student voice was heard and we ensured that students had a voice at the table,” Office of Greek Life director Brian Joyce said. 

Joyce added that alumni and advisors were also active in crafting the initiative.

“I think there definitely is a tangible impact [from the initiative] that can be felt across the Greek system,” Hayes said.