Wondering how much it costs to join a sorority? It may surprise you…
From tuition, recreation center fees, housing fees, parking fees, psychological service fees, to even that one-time parking ticket, the cost of college adds up.
And if you want to add joining a sorority into the mix, it’s going to be another college expense to consider each semester. If you are worried, confused, or need more information about the financial obligations of joining a sorority look no further.
In this blog post about how much it costs to be in a sorority we will be going over several topics such as: why you have to pay to be in a sorority, what sorority dues pay for, how to pay to be in a sorority, and what happens if you do not pay your sorority dues.
In general, it is difficult to gauge true cost of joining a sorority. The cost of joining a sorority can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars a semester. Every sorority chapter will vary on how much membership dues cost. The price of membership dues can depend on number of factors like: location of the chapter, if dues are inclusive or exclusive, and if the sorority chapter has live-in housing options or not.
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Do you have to pay to be in a sorority?
As much as we all love free things, joining a sorority is far from free and you will have to pay money each semester to continue to being in good standing with your respective sorority chapter.
What does it mean to be in good standing?
A sorority sister or new member who is classified as being in “good standing” is someone who has meet the academic and financial obligations of her chapter.
The definition of “good standing” can vary depending on a specific chapter’s bylaws. It is vital that when you join a sorority, you read the bylaws carefully as not being in “good standing” can result in your membership being terminated by the executive council of your chapter.
By being in good standing, the sister or new member is eligible to attend events like sisterhood events, date nights, mixers, semi-formal, and formal, able to take a sorority Little, and order chapter-specific merchandise like t-shirts.
Why do you have to pay to be in a sorority and what do sorority dues go towards?
For an individual sorority chapter to function, it needs money from its members.
Without money, there would be no way the chapter could pay for events, food, housing, leadership development, recruitment, liability insurance, and more. Additionally, each chapter has to pay dues to their respective internationals or nationals headquarters to be in good standing as a chapter as a whole.
For example, women part of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority have several dues/fees (one-time and recurring) they are expected to pay. You can see the breakdown of these dues down below.
One-time fees include:
- International new member fees
- Membership badge
- Local facilities fee
- International facilities fees
Recurring fees include (paid each semester):
- Local chapter dues
- International member dues
- Local facilities common area fee
How much does it cost per year to be in a sorority?
Every chapter is different when it comes to cost per year and per semester and it depends on factors such as:
- Housing (no housing, out-of-house, in-house)
- Events (types of events–does the sorority go on a Sisterhood retreat to Disney vs to a local nature park)
- Inclusive vs exclusive pricing
- Financial obligation to the international or nationals headquarters
- And more.
For example, at The University of Georgia, in 2020, the average cost per semester was:
- New Member:$1,700
- In-House: $3,800
- Out-of-House: $1,500
Versus at The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), the average cost per semester, in 2020, was:
- New Member (First Semester): $2,300
- In-House: $4,210
- Out-of-House: $2,160
However, if you attend a university with no official sorority housing, the prices can be substantially different.
For example, at The University of North Georgia the average cost per semester in 2020 was approximately:
- New Member: $488.50 (doesn’t include cost of membership badge)
- Initiated Member: $366
What are new member dues?
New member dues are one-time fees you pay as a new member of a sorority chapter.
These dues allow the chapter to provide you the resources and support to learn about the chapter and how to become a loyal member, receive your membership badge, and be initiated into the chapter.
For example, Αlpha Chi Omega lists the following new member dues required to be paid by all new members regardless of chapter. But note that this list does not include any additional new member fees an individual chapter may require their new members to pay for things like retreats or t-shirts:
- National new member fee
- Sisterhood packet
- New initiate bond card and certificate fee
- Badge fee
Because of new member dues, you can expect your first semester in a sorority to be the most expensive. However, once you are initiated, the dues decrease, but how much it decreases depends on the individual chapter.
What are active member dues?
Once you are initiated into your respective sorority, you will still need to pay dues every semester as an active member. Active member dues will go towards events your sorority puts on, retreats, recruitment, t-shirts, philanthropy, leadership development, and more.
Luckily, these dues are not as much as your new member dues, which is a huge relief!
However, your dues can vary significantly if you opt to live in-house or out-of-house (if your college has that option of course) or if your dues are classified as inclusive or exclusive.
What are in-house and out-of-house dues?
In-house dues are dues that active members pay, usually per semester, if they living in their chapter’s sorority house. Out-of-house dues are dues that active members pay, usually pay per semester, if they live in housing other than their official sorority house (e.g., a dorm on-campus or off-campus apartment).
Some sororities may require its members to live in the sorority house for a certain period of time during their membership in college.
For example, sorority chapters at the University of Georgia require each member to live in the official sorority house for a year during their second year of membership. However, sorority chapters at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill do not require members to live in sorority houses at any point of their active, collegiate membership.
Although in-house dues appear to be more expensive, remember that these members don’t have to pay for a dorm or an apartment.
Woman who pay in-house dues may get a meal plan, utilities (like internet, water, and electricity) and sorority house maintenance all included in their in-house dues on top of satisfying their regular membership dues.
Living in a sorority house can be a great way to save in college and develop a stronger bond with your sorority sisters.
What are inclusive and exclusive dues?
Inclusive dues are dues where members will pay a certain amount of money, usually per semester, and that money will pay for a majority, if not all, experiences, opportunities, events, resources, and support provided by the chapter.
Exclusive dues are an “a la carte” version of dues where each member will pay for the experiences, resources, support, and opportunities they want from the chapter. In general, the more you pay for, the more you will get out of the sorority.
For example, when I was in a sorority, my chapter had all-inclusive dues. So each semester, I paid about $500 and that covered:
- Formal and semi-formal
- Mixers, socials, and date night events
- Sisterhood retreat
- Sisterhood events
- International and chapter dues
- Panhellenic dues
- Technology fee
However, the $500 I paid per semester did not cover:
- Membership badge
- Transportation to mixers and sisterhood retreat
- Date night tickets for my date
Sororities with exclusive dues can be more expensive, but may provide more “upscale” experiences.
For example, when I was in a sorority, my chapter’s sisterhood retreats would be to a local nature park or to the aquarium. But another chapter at my university had their sisterhood retreat once at Disney World. However, all of the sisters who wanted to attend the Disney World sisterhood retreat had to pay for their own ticket, transportation, food, and hotel.
Sororities with exclusive pricing may still pay for some events, like the required events that occur once or twice a semester, but they expect their members to pay for a majority of the non-optional events, like mixers, date nights, and some sisterhood events.
How to pay for a sorority
Adding sorority dues into your college budget can feel overwhelming and impossible, however, it is possible to pay for a sorority and be able to enjoy all the opportunities a sorority can bring to your college experience.
However, it does take some sacrifice, potentially taking on a part-time job to make it work, or using gifted money towards your sorority dues.
Do sororities have payment plans?
Yes, many chapters will provide their members with payment plans, so instead of having their members pay their dues in one lump sum amount, it will be spread out over 3-5 payments throughout the semester.
However, there may be incentives for members who are able to pay in full, such as an additional chapter meeting excuse or being able to wear jeans to a business/formal chapter meeting.
Can you have a job and be in a sorority?
Some sorority woman will need to take on a part-time job in order to pay their sorority dues on top of paying for college.
If you find yourself needing to take on a part-time job to pay your dues, don’t feel bad about it or compare yourself to women in your chapter who don’t need a job to pay sorority dues.
When I was in a sorority, a lot of girls in my chapter worked and were still able to be very active in the sorority. Some of these women in my chapter even held executive positions while working and going to school full-time!
However, having a part-time job while being in a sorority may require you to miss out on some optional events, like mixers or date nights, or some strategic planning on your part so you can attend required events like sorority recruitment or Big Little Reveal.
Can you get financial aid to join a sorority?
Many sororities will offer scholarship or financial aid opportunities for women as well emergency aid for woman who find themselves experiencing a sudden loss, illness, or emergency event.
These scholarships and emergency aid are generally provided through donations from alumnae chapter members.
For example, Αlpha Omicron Pi (AOII) offers academic scholarships to members of its sorority chapters pursing their undergraduate or graduate degrees and their Ruby Fund provides emergency aid for sisters. The foundation states that through their academic scholarships they have awarded “$175,000 for the 2020-2021 academic year.”
Another example, Tri Delta (Delta Delta Delta) offers scholarships to chapter members pursuing their undergraduate or graduate degrees to help them fund their educational journey and their Crescent Fund offers emergency aid for sisters.
Can you use student loans for sorority dues?
Yes, you can use student loan money to pay for sorority dues.
According to LendEDU, the results from a poll they conducted in 2017 showed that about 55% of borrowers in a Greek organization (sorority or fraternity) used student loan money to pay for dues.
However, from the same poll, results showed that about 55% of students in a Greek organization regretted using their student loan money to pay for dues. So, just be careful what you use your student loan money for if you choose to use it to fund your sorority experiences.
What happens if you don’t pay sorority dues?
There are consequences for not paying sorority dues on time or never paying them at all.
When you join a sorority, you are making a financial commitment upfront, so it is important that you heavily consider your financial situation before you even sign up for sorority recruitment.
It is also important to factor in potential fines you could owe to your sorority chapter if you miss an event or destroy property (yes, it does happen–especially during transportation to events like semi-formal and formal).
Here’s what can happen (in general) if you don’t pay sorority dues:
- Unable to pick up t-shirts you ordered through your chapter
- Unable to attend optional events like semi-formal, formal, date nights, or mixers
- Unable to take a Little or even go through the Big Little process
- Unable to be initiated into the chapter if you are a new member
- Charged interest or late fee on unpaid dues
- Unpaid dues can be sent to collections
- Unable to participate in elections or on policy/bylaw changes
- Termination of membership
What are sorority fines?
If sorority dues weren’t already enough, there are potential fines you could receive if you miss required events, like chapter meetings, recruitment workshops, philanthropy events, and sisterhood retreats.
You can even receive fines if you destroy property at the chapter house, at a venue for an event, or on a bus provided by the chapter to go to an event.
Even though sorority fines seem unnecessary when you already pay an extravagant amount of money towards dues, fines are used to enforce active participation in the chapter and good behavior for its chapter members.
It is important that if you need to miss an event that you have or can provide adequate documentation to grant you an excuse OR you need to be able to pay for the fine because they do add up overtime and can prevent you from fully enjoying your sorority experience.
When I was in a sorority, I remember fines for missing a chapter meeting was $10 for the first missed meeting and then it increased by $10 per each chapter meeting missed. So the second missed chapter would be $20, third was $30, and so forth. We also had like a $150 fine for missing recruitment workshops (per day).
Do you pay sorority dues after you graduate?
Throughout your new member period and at Initiation, you will learn about the obligations of membership in your sorority.
For most, in not all sororities, initiated members are to uphold the financial obligations of membership while active in the chapter and as an alumnae. However, each sorority will have different alumnae financial requirements.
For example, for Sisters of Gamma Phi Beta chapters, “international alumnae dues are currently $25 per year. Members of local alumnae chapters will continue to pay their annual alumnae chapter dues separately.” Sisters of Gamma Phi Beta also have the option of becoming a Life Loyal member by paying a one-time payment of $299 to cover their international alumnae dues for life.
Another example, for Sisters of Αlpha Omicron Pi, they have the opportunity to join a Life Loyal Program (one-time payment of $299), which covers their alumnae dues for life, or they can pay $35 per year.
However, it does not appear that Sisters of Zeta Tau Αlpha, for example, have to pay any annual alumnae dues to their national headquarters, but they will probably have to pay membership dues if they join a local alumnae chapter. This is based on research on their website, but I am not a Sister of Zeta Tau Αlpha and I am not fully educated on their alumnae financial obligations.
Luckily, in my experience, as an alumnae of Gamma Phi Beta, you are not forced to pay any of these dues after graduation, but if you want to continue to be part of your sorority in an official capacity after graduation you’ll need to pay these dues.
Concluding thoughts about how much it costs to join a sorority
In this blog post, we covered how much it costs to join a sorority.
Joining a sorority can be one of the best decisions of your college life. However, it is a significant financial expense you need to account for in your college budget.
From new member dues, active member dues, alumnae dues, and everything from optional t-shirts, events, sorority big little gifts, and leadership conferences, the cost of joining a sorority can add up to thousands of dollars over the course of four years. Joining a sorority may even require you to take out additional student loans or take on a part-time job to pay for your membership.
If it is financially possible for you and you’d like to go through the recruitment process and accept a bid to a sorority at your university, I’d definitely say go for it! You never know what incredible possibilities and opportunities await for you in a sorority.
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