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In 2018, around 800,000 college students were part of Greek life. Almost 13% of incoming freshmen in one survey said they were interested in rushing for a sorority or fraternity. But how much does it cost to be in a sorority? You might be surprised to find out that this social aspect of campus life can come with long-lasting financial consequences if you’re not prepared to manage the expense.
What Do You Have to Pay to Be in a Sorority?
You typically have to pay to be a sorority member. Some costs are mandatory, which means that if you don’t pay them, you are kicked out of the sorority. Here’s a look at some of the required costs of going Greek.
Dues may be required each semester or year that you’re a member of the sorority. These fees cover costs associated with running the sorority, hosting events, and other activities. Dues might also be used to cover fees the chapter must pay a national organization, educational tools, and donations or work for charities that the sorority supports.
The amount of dues depends on the organization you join and your location, among other factors. According to information published by Vanderbilt University, dues for members belonging to various Greek organizations on that campus can range from $100 to $1,500 per year, for example.
New Member Fees
Fees for your first semester or year in a sorority may be higher than dues for subsequent semesters. That’s because you might have to pay one-time expenses for pledging and initiation. Again, these costs vary by organization and location. The University of South Dakota notes that average sorority new membership fees for its campus are around $405.
Room and Board
If you decide to live in a sorority house, you must pay room and board. That may also include meals and other costs. The University of New Mexico reports that sorority room and board fees total around $3,190 a semester, for example.
Christine DiGangi, a sorority alumna, says she paid around $4,100 a semester to live in a chapter house. That included dues, room and board, food, telephone service, and a few other fees. However, DiGangi points out that you should compare the costs of sorority house room and board with similar costs in a dorm or college-owned apartment. In her case, the sorority house was actually around $100 less per year than other options.
Hidden Costs of Being in a Sorority
The so-called “required” costs aren’t the only expenses associated with sorority membership. To be an active part of the Greek community, you typically have to spend small amounts of money here and there throughout the year. Some examples of where your money might go include the following:
- Tickets, clothing, and transportation for events such as formals or other parties
- Food and alcohol for yourself or others during social events or dinners out
- Specialty clothing, such as shirts with the sorority’s colors or letters
- Special outfits for themed events
- Gifts for new pledges or sorority sisters
- Shopping for items to maintain appearances, as determined by the sorority
How Do People Afford a Sorority?
In addition to tuition and books, costs of sorority life can really add up. So, how do you pay for all these costs?
Some people use their student loans to cover part of the cost of being in a sorority. You can use your student loan to pay for anything, but you should use it specifically for costs associated with school—including room and board. If you’re rooming in the sorority house, using part of your student loan may be appropriate to help pay for this cost.
While student loans can be a good way to cover some of these costs, it’s important to understand the total cost of using your loan. Student loans come with interest, and you might be paying off your sorority expenses for years. Before you decide to rush and charge the bill to your student loan account, make sure you feel Greek life will give you enough value to make up for those long-term costs.
Some people may use credit cards to cover the cost of their sorority life. Again, this comes with the potential for dragging out the costs and increasing them over time. If you’re not good about paying your bills on time, it can also cause you to graduate with a poor credit score hanging over your head, and that can impact your ability to access lending or even get the job you really want.
If you decide to pay for sorority costs with a credit card, look for one with a low APR and terms that work with your overall finances.
Should You Join a Sorority?
For many, the costs of joining a sorority are worth it. The experiences and friendships had during the college years can be valuable, and Greek life can provide important networking opportunities to support future careers. However, it’s important to understand the costs and have a plan and budget going in. If you manage expenses properly, you may find that you can enjoy sorority life without spending much more than you would attending college without rushing.
Find out more about options for student loans to help finance your college experience—whether you plan on making a sorority part of it or not.
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