Deciding to “Go Greek” during your college journey definitely takes some careful consideration, especially as far as cost goes. Like any sound financial decision, and it is indeed considered a financial decision in many ways, it’s important to weigh the options and costs carefully. Financially speaking, it is extremely important to understand how being a member of a sorority or fraternity will cost you in ways that you may not even think of. In addition to dues and fees, there are often several overlooked expenses associated with joining one of these organizations. With higher education already costing an exorbitant chunk of change and all of the work you are putting into preparing for college and budgeting, it is important to consider everything that may go into joining one of these greek chapters at your school.
What’s the average cost of a fraternity or sorority?
When thinking of an average cost, it is difficult to come up with an accurate one since Greek organizations vary greatly across college campuses. Experts estimate that there fees that are “three to five-figures” at some chapters. Part of the reason that it’s so difficult to know the cost is explained by The Columbia Spectator who reported that “Unlike sororities, which disclose dues in the Panhellenic Manual, fraternities do not disclose dues at any set point during the rush process...meaning that there is no single event dedicated to explaining the finances of rushing fraternities.” Although it is difficult to quote an exact or even a running average figure to explain the cost of joining a fraternity or sorority, you can certainly be sure that it will cost upwards of a few to several thousands of dollars. Commonly, more of the detailed financial information is available during the recruitment process as fees can change each year, so sometimes it is even difficult to research in advance.
Costs to consider
Some of the costs are pretty obvious such as initiation fees or membership dues, which are relatively common with most clubs or organizations. While knowing that entertaining a Greek membership pin may come with a hefty cost, and without knowing exactly how much, it is helpful to see some of the other costs that go into being a part of such an organization. Below you will find some of the common and sometimes overlooked Greek costs to consider.
There is room and board sometimes associated with joining a sorority or fraternity if you choose to live in Greek housing; however, room and board in a sorority or fraternity which sometimes includes meal plans, may actually be slightly cheaper than living in a regular dorm or campus housing and utilizing that meal plan. Since this cost may vary widely, it is definitely imperative to do your homework to make the best, most educated decision. Even if you choose not to live in Greek housing, there can be chapter fees that you will have to pay for use of the house.
There are usually application fees you will need to cough up when pledging with a sorority or fraternity. These can depend upon the institution and Greek organization and can range from approximately $50 to over $100 per application.
Membership Fees range from several hundred to thousands of dollars. In fact, a University of North Carolina student disclosed that new members can pay between $575 to $2,500 in dues and fees at her school during the semester that they join.
Social events are not generally covered by membership dues and by being a member of a Greek organization you will have lots of social events. These social events will sometimes will sometimes require special attire, costumes, gifts, or may require you to sport your Greek letter membership pin. All of these expenses add up throughout membership.
Don’t break the rules. There are not-so-tiny fines of upwards of $100 for each fine for breaking a fraternity or sorority rule.
Regular chapter membership dues, which can certainly also add up, are another hidden cost that many do not think about. These regular dues can set you back between $20 to more than $200 per month and up to $3000 per semester. Although they can be hefty, often dues help subsidize costs for national and international chapters, operations costs, upkeep of community areas, etc. Generally, when choosing between greek organizations, keep in mind that fraternities and sororities on the same campus tend to have their membership and chapter fees around the same amount. Additionally, larger schools with more established "Greek systems" tend to require larger dues.
New pledge fees are another additional fee to watch out for.
Local and national chapter fees are sometimes covered in the regular monthly dues, but not always. These are other fees to watch out for as locally, nationally, and internationally, greek organizations look out for each other financially.
Alumni expenses also are something that many students take with them after graduating and leaving college sorority or fraternity life. They will often donate to their sorority or fraternity on a regular, ongoing basis.
How can I possibly afford to join a fraternity or sorority?
Luckily, some chapters offer scholarships to subsidize some areas of Greek life costs. Other schools may offer payment plans or waive particular fees if a student demonstrates need. This is not always the case and other chapters host fundraising events to raise money for this type of aid or to offer sponsorships for dues. It truly depends upon the school you are looking into and that school’s particular chapter.
The other option is simply budgeting for the opportunity. There are many pros and cons of deciding to join a fraternity or sorority in college. Many students and families believe that the benefits of being a part of such an organization far outweigh any cons. In cases like this, good old-fashioned money management and budgeting will make it possible to achieve the dream of not only going to college, but embarking on the journey of Greek life.
Founded by recognized university leaders, Edmit provides personalized insights and advice to help families find colleges that meet their academic goals and are within their financial means. Families that use Edmit make smarter college choices leading to less debt and better earnings outcomes, saving thousands of dollars.