What do You Have to Pay for in a Sorority?
Are you planning on joining a sorority, or at least considering it? Some students say it’s worth it, and other regret their decisions. The social aspect will probably come down to what you make of it (there are a lot of variables), but what about the financial side?
Being in a sorority can get expensive, especially because society at large demands a lot more from women. The entrance fee is not the last fee you’ll pay if you want to enter a Greek sisterhood—here are some costs that you might not have expected.
The cost of joining
What do you expect the price of actually being in the sorority to be? It depends on what kind of sorority you’re in—are you a part of a more local chapter that is only found near your campus, or are you in one of the 26 nationwide chapters part of the National Panhellenic Conference?
One mom details the expenses of a more laid-back sorority for her daughter: “We paid $250 up front for her initial chapter dues, international dues, new member fees, pledge pin and a couple other incidentals… That totaled about $800 for the first semester.”
However, her other daughter participated in a much larger sorority at an SEC university that took Greek life very seriously. She reports that the National New Member expense was $240. Chapter New Member expenses totaled $575. Meals were $1450. A parlor fee of $415. Chapter dues reached $475. National dues were $100. Then there were other miscellaneous costs, security, and the house fund, so she ended up paying $3,930 for the first semester.
That sounds like a lot of money, right? Just make sure that price tag is worth it to you before rushing. You already have a lot of other costs to consider and don’t want to pile on more debt than you can handle.
Once you’re actually in a sorority, it’s like “a purchase you think is a great deal, but in reality it only spawns more and more purchases,” according to blogger L Bee. That’s not to say that all the friendships, activities, food, living quarters, and networking won’t be worthwhile—every experience is different, and many sisters love theirs—but this is just warning that the expenses don’t stop.
L Bee mentions some sorority costs that she racked up over the course of two years: $306 for Big/Little sister gifts, $140 for different event T-shirts, $170 for a year of recruitment outfits, $1,680 in monthly dues, and more. What is included in this “more”? Dresses for cocktail parties, tickets for formals, snacks you are asked to bring to events, and costumes for parties (which she warns are always themed, which reduces the possibility of recycling). And this was at a small, private school, not a big state university.
Sorority sister Bethany Kattwinkel also has some insight into what she calls “the Coffee Culture.” As she defines it, it’s “a world where the words, ‘let’s get coffee’ are uttered almost daily. We love to show up to class with a Starbucks cup. Sometimes coffee dates are a social activity… this is not just with coffee. I hear ‘let’s get lunch’ or ‘let’s get frozen yogurt’ frequently as well. While we all love going out to eat, the reality is that paying for this adds up very quickly.” You’ll most likely have a meal plan, so utilize it as best you can and don’t let it go to waste in favor of outings.
Tips to save money
Be frugal about how you spend your money. There’s a lot of photo-taking at events, so get good at taking your own. If an event has a T-shirt, decide if you really need it or not. Swag is an expense your bank account will thank you for forgoing every now and then.
Clothing, in general, can get pricey because not every event is t-shirt appropriate. Ms. Kattwinkel advises that you “borrow, borrow, borrow!” She “started a facebook message threat with some girls in my sorority who wear the same size as me to share dresses.” If you absolutely need a new sorority dress for a formal event, Azazie has some great and affordable choices.
When it comes to giving gifts to your Little or Big sister, you don’t need to spoil them with an overabundance of stuff. They will understand that you have a budget, and they have one too. The Big Sister/Little Sister program is most often a mentorship opportunity, so what you can really do to make your sister’s week a blast is give her your time.
Greek life is supposed to be enriching, not something that overwhelms you with debt.
Do you know of any other costs that sorority life might entail?