Student Activities Assistance Fund (SAAF)

The Student Activities Assistance Fund (SAAF, formerly known as the Student Activities Scholarship Fund) was established in 2012 as a supplemental grant to assist students in registered student organizations with financial support to participate fully in their student organization’s programs and events. While most student organization expenses are paid by the university, sometimes individuals may be asked to cover their own sports/athletic equipment, travel costs to attend an academic conference, or national association fees. The SAAF is meant to help reduce the financial burden for undergraduate students.

Recognized student organizations, fraternity and sorority chapters under the four social councils, and Northwestern Sports Clubs are all eligible for members to seek financial assistance. All organizations are present on Wildcat Connection. If multiple members of a group require assistance, each member must fill out an individual application. Please note that because of the overwhelming need for these grants, SAAF will no longer be funding international travel. Each application will be considered individually based on application answers and financial need data as provided by student accounts/financial aid.

How to Apply

The SAAF is hosted on Northwestern OneForm in the opportunity list. The SAAF opportunity will officially open for submissions on Monday October 21, 10:00am. To get started, complete the general application questions before proceeding to the opportunity specific questions. Please be sure to include a full budget template (available inside the application) for all activities for the remainder of the year since the system will not allow multiple submissions from the same user within the same term.

  • In efforts to support as many student activities as possible, there is a strict 2-week turnaround for receipt submission. Applicants who are offered awards and do not follow-up with proof of payment in a timely manner may forfeit their award back to the SAAF balance. For any concerns with this, please email joseph.lattal@northwestern.edu
  • There is a $600/student cap for the academic year. If you have already received $600 in support for your activities in the current academic year, please do not submit a new application as this will slow the process for others.
  • If you are seeking funds related to a professional conference (registration, travel, incidentals, etc.), please apply to the Career Development Fund (also on OneForm).
  • Applicants will be reviewed on a first-come first-serve basis. Please check your email for notifications to accept offers and next steps.
What type of expenses does the Student Activities Assistance Fund cover?

Most students use the fund to cover out-of-pocket expenses including (but not limited to):

  • travel-associated expenses (e.g. transportation, overnight accommodations, meals, incidentals),
  • equipment/gear associated to my activity (i.e. uniform, protective gear, supplies that are for individuals and not shared within a group
  • member dues (which may cover the expense categories above)
  • competition/entry fees
  • conference/event registration fees

The fund may not cover expenses related to social events, residential expenses, dining plans, fees supporting a third-party entity (especially for-profit enterprise), and other categories. You are welcome to mention all fees associated with your activity, but the award will only reflect eligible expenses.

How long will it take for me to get a response for my application?

Due to the volume of applications each quarter, students can expect an award decision within 2 weeks of completing their application. The award is conditional upon the student's ability to produce receipts or other appropriate documentation of payment since this award is in the form of a reimbursement. Once you submit the application on Northwestern OneForm, please look for information about follow-up action items or questions in order for you to receive your award.

How long will it take for me to get my award?

Once a student brings in appropriate receipts or other documentation of payment towards activity-related individual-responsible expenses, the approximate time between turning in financial materials and a CAESAR deposit is no more than 2 weeks.

What is appropriate documentation of payment?

The following will be accepted as proof of payment:

  • Image of a paper receipt with date, amount, method, and vendor provided. Any food/beverage receipts must be itemized and cannot include tobacco or alcohol.
  • An e-receipt or payment confirmation email that shows amount paid, date, method, and vendor. An invoice or statement that shows a balance due does not show that it has been paid and cannot be reimbursed. For fraternities and sororities, a corresponding statement that shows the amount due is also required.
  • A scan of a SOFO deposit slip showing personal funds being deposited into a student group's account.
  • A venmo transaction to the organization's treasurer or official organization Venmo account. Please see this form for the components that need to be included in the file upload. This may require additional banking documents.

Paying for dues or other fees with cash directly to a treasurer is highly discouraged since it is not traceable. Making a deposit to the group's SOFO account at the SOFO window during business hours is preferred. For any other methods, please email: joseph.lattal@northwestern.edu prior to submitting the follow-up form for reimbursement.

Will I get reimbursed sales tax?

Since this is a reimbursement--yes.

In what form do I receive my financial award?

In most cases, the award will be a deposit into the student's financial account on CAESAR.

What happens if I apply but then don't end up doing the activity or needing the money?

Please respond to an award notification that you are declining the award. This will not jeopardize your ability to apply again in the future, nor will it count towards a maximum eligible award. We understand students often seek multiple options to cover expenses, and we hope to support as many students' activities as possible. Letting us know that you will not be pursuing your award allows our committee to pass that award to another applicant.

Can I apply for expenses I anticipate far in the future?

Since this award is in the fund of a reimbursement, it is expected that the student makes the purchases necessary for the activity and also participates in the activity before seeking reimbursement. For example, if the expense is a conference registration, the SAAF committee may withhold reimbursement until after the conference dates pass to ensure the applicant isn't receiving funding support elsewhere for this or deciding to withdraw participation.

What about recurring expenses? Do I apply multiple times?

Students are encouraged to apply each time a set of expenses arises associated with a program. For example, if the application is seeking funding support for a conference, they may budget for the travel, accommodations, event registration, and incidentals costs all on one application.

If a student is associated with an activity with a quarterly dues deadline, our recommendation is the student apply for funding support each quarter. In addition, students are encouraged to consider opportunities to seek funding elsewhere in case the fund award is insufficient in a future application. Students may be limited to a certain amount of funding support per activity per year.

I applied for SAAF and received a notification that it wasn't granted. Why?

There are several reasons a student may not be granted funding support for their activity. Typically the applicant will receive a brief rationale that may have been a factor in the award denial. A financial aid officer may have recommended that an applicant's financial aid profile suggested no support was needed. If this is an error, please contact the financial aid office and discuss your profile with them if any financial status has changed.

Additionally, a student applying for funding support for a sports club will be denied an award if they are not listed on the team's roster. A student applying for fraternity/sorority funding support will be denied an award if the Fraternity & Sorority Life office determines the student is not on the chapter's roster. A student applying for support related to an activity sponsored by a registered student organization may be denied an award if the student is not on the organization's roster on Wildcat Connection. 

Lastly, the fund is confined to an annual budget. While we seek to support all involvements throughout the year, it is possible the fund may run out before the end of the academic year.

Where does funding for the SAAF come from?

The SAAF has a variety of funding sources. Initially, funding was granted by the President's Office after the ASG Analytics committee (fka Undergraduate Budget Priorities Committee) included a recommendation for a fund to support high-financial-need student involvement in extra-curriculars.

Since then, the SAAF has benefitted from generous private donor gifts and the hard work of Northwestern Alumni Relations & Development, to provide financial support for this effort.