Everyone remembers the day when they get accepted into college. However, what if you find out that you simply can’t afford college life even though your application was accepted? What are the benefits and disadvantages of joining fraternities or sororities, and how much does it cost to join them? Check out our breakdown of Greek life costs!
As you may know, going Greek or joining a sorority/fraternity is a major part of U.S. college traditions. Approximately nine million college students are currently members of fraternities and sororities. Also, around 750,000 are new members who are part of undergrad chapters. When it comes to the total number of chapters, there are over 6,100 communities in around 800 campuses. That’s quite a lot of ping pong balls and red Solo cups!
Still, while some view Greek life as an essential right of passage, joining a frat/sorority is not for everyone. It’s a big life decision that can bear huge financial consequences. It comes with a set of several pros and cons that you’ll need to weigh beforehand.
Obviously, some could have a problem with communal bathrooms, living with members of the same sex every day, new member hazing, and Greek life responsibilities. Others may not like the social aspect, drug/alcohol abuse, parties, etc.
However, Greek life isn’t always about humiliating new pledges, drinking, and partying. It can be a fantastic experience for networking and making connections across the nation. That could secure your future employment and career opportunities. Moreover, Greek life can develop your social skills and identity, even leading to strong leadership skills. Many houses also require strict academic standards, meaning that joining one is a great way to keep your grades up.
The Average Cost
So how much does it cost to join sororities or fraternities? Actually, not everyone can afford the costs associated with living in a house and being a member of an organization. Many spend thousands of dollars on Greek life costs during their college years.
First, Greek life involves high chapter dues and housing fees. Experts believe that the average costs are between three to four or even up to five figures per semester.
However, it’s not so simple because the expenses can vary from chapter to chapter. Also, they constantly expand through penalty fees, charity events, and parties. Students could also spend lots of money on gifts, trips, meal plans, and formals.
Nevertheless, you may be able to save some money on frat living compared to on-campus dorm expenses. Yet, despite the benefits, some people may just not be able to dish out the extra funds for Greek life costs, which are often unpredictable. If a house is not supportive of its members, low-income students may not be able to join at all. It’s also impossible to predict the fraternity expenses as they do not openly disclose them. On the other hand, sororities are bound to openly reveal them according to the Panhellenic Manual.
So where do all those funds go? Estimates say that a corresponding national organization receives 50% of all dues. The rest is used to contribute to house maintenance or rent, utility bills, philanthropy, social events, and various chapter-specific needs.
Costs to Consider
Like we’ve said, it’s tricky to predict the costs of Greek life since it will depend on the individual house. However, we can look at data about membership fees, social event costs, boarding, fines, recruitment process fees, national chapter fees, and alumni expenses. That could give you an idea of how much you’re potentially going to spend.
All members have to pay their active dues. That includes the local chapter and the national chapter/Panhellenic council fees. Also, the dues for the local chapter include costs for essentials like house upkeep and liability insurance.
Some experts estimate these costs to be in the $300–$600 range for each semester. Of course, frat/sorority members have to pay them for every semester. To manage expenses, some chapters provide scholarships for their members. However, this is quite rare, and the competition for financial aid is steep.
Active member dues do not include social costs. For example, most Greek organizations will require mandatory social fees for each semester. That could include the costs of participating in activities and attending social functions. Depending on the organization, the price could be $100–$1,000 on a semester basis.
But that’s not all. There are many optional social costs. That includes the purchase of formalwear, which is always encouraged. Also, the mandatory social fees do not include optional entertainment expenses, for example, dinners, trips, and parties.
Room and Board
Students do not have to use the frats/sorority housing options. However, many consider living in a frat or a sorority house to be an essential experience of Greek life. The costs of living in this way can vary widely. For one, the houses may or not be located on-campus. That’s why the cost can vary from $1,000–$7,000 or more for a semester.
On top of that, you’ll be required to pay alumni dues. These expenses are necessary for you to maintain your involvement and membership in alumni chapters. It’s an extra $50 or $100 on a yearly basis. Most houses will only include this as an optional fee though. However, many alumni simply ignore these costs and stay connected with their peers in other ways later in life.
We’ve mentioned some extra charges earlier on, but there are many more hidden expenses that can quickly add up to large sums. For example, some houses could charge you for absences if you fail to miss the chapter meetings. Those fines are around $5–$10, but that’s still a lot when it adds up to all the other expenses.
Like we’ve said, formalwear and official merchandise are encouraged. Things like sweatshirts and T-shirts with the house’s logo/Greek letter are highly encouraged. So expect to pay around $15 to $20 for a coffee mug with the house’s logo or around $25 to $30 for a shirt. However, it may not stop there. You could be encouraged to buy official merchandise or other gifts for your sisters or brothers as well as for new members.
Can I Afford Greek Life?
While it’s true that the full college experience is priceless and profound for most young adults, Greek life can truly be expensive, especially if you don’t have the means to sustain it. Yet, it does contain multiple long-term benefits for your social life, connections, and career options.
If you’re thinking about funding your Greek life experience, note that you’ll need to consider your budget way ahead of time. Therefore, estimate the costs we’ve mentioned for your college and also think about some solutions. That can include applying for school subsidies, any available house scholarships, student loans, etc. Also, many Greek organizations have payment plans, so it will be necessary to think about that too.
If your budget is tight, the main and additional expenses may not be achievable for you. However, if you can afford it, definitely consider joining a fraternity or sorority. It’s a profound learning experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life!