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The Cost of Friendship – the Expenses you Need to Know About Before Going Greek

Can you put a price on friendship? That is the question many families grapple with when considering whether or not their son or daughter should join a fraternity or sorority. Before proudly displaying those Greek letters on everything you wear, these are the costs you should be aware of:

After rush is over and you’ve selected a house, payment is due for your fully booked social calendar: the average per semester cost for a traditional Panhellenic sorority or fraternity as a new member not living in-house is between $600-$3500 per semester. This amount usually includes the national fee, sister/brotherhood events, social events, philanthropy, parlor fee, meal plan to eat chapter dinner, chapter dues, and a technology fee. 

After being initiated, you are considered an active member, but if you are not yet living in the house you can expect the per semester cost to be between $600-$3200, which includes most of the same fees as a new member. This is the amount that is hardest for most families to swallow, as there aren’t many tangibles that come with the price tag.

Some houses have a live-in requirement of at least one year, and that is where you get the most bang for your buck, with costs looking very similar to other on campus housing options plus meals. The cost for active members living in the house is between $3200- $7200 which usually includes a robust meal plan, room rent, and room reservation fee. Living in the house for as many years as possible is a great way to maximize your dollar, as well as form the bonds of brother and sisterhood that you are paying for in the first place. 

In addition to the cost of attendance for college, the costs for Greek life membership can come as an unwelcome expense for many families. Keep in mind that some houses do offer payment plans (semester payment plans or installment payment plans) to help break up the costs. Also, many sororities and fraternities offer scholarships to outstanding members. These are not usually able to be applied towards dues or fees, but can be applied to school tuition. 

Some colleges with Greek life participation post on the individual house websites the average cost of new/active/live-in membership. You can also contact the individual Panhellenic Associations for more information. 

As with any other financial decision, a cost/benefit analysis should be thought about before deciding if Greek life is right for your son or daughter. Some parents like the comfort of knowing their child is immediately inserted into a group of like minded young people with similar goals and academic standards. Introverted kids, or those with social anxiety, who are less likely to cultivate individual relationships may benefit greatly from being dropped into a group and told “these are your new friends”- the hardest part of the equation is already solved for them. The flip-side is that fraternities and sororities can be viewed as a bubble and not always filled with diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. And, while most campuses have cracked down majorly on hazing with zero tolerance policies, being aware of the houses’ hazing history and culture is a good idea prior to committing. 

Doing the research ahead of time on the cost of going Greek will help you and your student figure out what is feasible, so when they call to say “I got in!” you all know how much you are “in” for.

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