The Cost of Sororities and Fraternities

What Is the Cost of Sororities and Fraternities?

The cost of sororities and fraternities is much higher than many newly initiated sisters and brothers realize. From rushing registration fees and social fees to chapter dues and room and board charges, the cost of going Greek typically ranges from $600 to $6,000 per semester, plus rush and alumni fees.

Rush Registration Fee

For prospective sorority sisters or fraternity brothers, the costs of going Greek begin before you’ve even pledged your chosen house. That’s because virtually every Greek house charges what’s known as a rush fee, which enables potential members to participate in recruiting events during rush season.

Registration fees can vary significantly among houses, but they typically cost $50 to $150. Because this amount doesn’t go toward dues, it’s similar to paying for a ticket that allows you to attend a series of events. Students who don’t receive an invitation to pledge won’t have to pay any additional fees. For new recruits, however, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

New Member Dues

When you receive an invitation from a Greek house, you’ll have to consider your decision to pledge carefully. Assess whether the chapter truly meets your social and community needs and whether the organization is one to which you’ll want to commit to long-term.

Once you’ve decided to pledge, you’ll be responsible for paying new member dues. At many universities, this first round of dues equals two to three times what you’d pay as an active member during a typical semester. New member dues generally cost around $600 to $900, and they cover the basics of maintaining your membership with your Greek organization. Most new members are also responsible for social expenses and numerous extra fees, too.

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Active Member Dues

After the newness has worn off, sisters and brothers are responsible for paying active member dues every semester. These fees include regular dues to the local chapter, along with dues to the national chapter and National Pan-Hellenic Council dues. At most universities, active member dues include essentials, such as liability insurance and basic Greek house upkeep. These fees typically range from $300 to $600 per semester, and members must continue to pay them every semester of their college career.

Some chapters offer scholarships and grants to help members pay their regular dues since they can add up to several thousand dollars over the course of college. However, this type of financial assistance is relatively rare and tends to be extremely competitive.

Social Expenses

While active member dues cover the basic costs related to your sorority or fraternity, these fees don’t usually include social expenses, which can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the total cost. Many Greek organizations charge members a social fee per semester, which includes the cost of attending the chapter’s social functions and participating in most activities. These can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000 per semester.

In addition to the required costs, you should also consider the optional costs of enjoying your social life at your sorority or fraternity. Buying new formal wear is often encouraged and can add hundreds of dollars in an average academic year. Joining your Greek brothers and sisters for dinners out and other optional entertainment can also get expensive quickly.

Room and Board Charges

Not every member of a fraternity or sorority opts to live in the organization’s on-campus house, but for many brothers and sisters, this is a significant part of the Greek experience. Keep in mind that room and board charges vary widely, even among chapters on the same college campus. While some fraternities and sororities are based in run-of-the-mill buildings, some are located in historic houses that have been beautifully preserved. The cost of room and board generally ranges from $1,000 to $7,000 per semester.

For some chapters, the cost of room and board isn’t much more than what you’d pay to live in on-campus housing. If you’re comparing the cost of living in your Greek house to living at home with your family, however, the cost difference can be staggering.

Extra Charges

Extra fees vary widely from chapter to chapter and university to university, but no matter where you pledge, these costs can add up quickly. For instance, some chapters enforce meeting attendance by charging members for absences. You may only pay $5 or $10 for missing a meeting, but these fees add to the total cost of joining.

In addition, most sororities and fraternities encourage members to wear T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other official clothing emblazoned with the appropriate Greek letters. Many sisters and brothers also own official coffee mugs, water bottles, picture frames, and other merchandise. All these costs come out of your own pocket and can start at around $15 per coffee mug or $25 per shirt. Many chapters encourage members to purchase official gear for their sisters and brothers or for new recruits, which can cause costs to climb.

Alumni Dues

For many people, lifelong membership to a meaningful organization is a major part of the attraction of going Greek. To maintain your membership and sustain your involvement in an alumni chapter, you’ll need to pay dues that average about $50 to $100 per year.

Keep in mind that this is optional, though, and many alums choose not to continue paying membership fees after graduation. After all, for many brothers and sisters, maintaining strong friendships after graduation is natural and not something they’ll need to factor into their budget.

Embracing Greek life in college can mean priceless, lifelong bonds with your sorority sisters or fraternity brothers and support and camaraderie in your university years and beyond. It can also mean expensive chapter dues, social expenses, and lifelong alumni fees. Joining a fraternity or sorority isn’t free, but with careful budgeting, it may be easier than you think to afford going Greek. Start by completing the FAFSA® form and getting the financial aid you need for college, so you can design the university experience that you find most rewarding.