College Connect: Life in a Greek house

Posted By sabew

By Lauren Steffens, University of Missouri

One of the biggest decisions a college student makes is whether to join a sorority or fraternity. There’s a lot of pressure on some campuses, where 40 percent of students are members of a Greek organization.

The rush process can be stressful, but it can be a dream come true to college students who seek to be part of the Greek life. But despite the fact that it’s a great privilege to be asked to become a member of an exclusive group, some students find that their dream has a price tag that’s just too much.

Financial obligations are a frequent reason why students often drop out of a sorority. Most Interfraternity and Panhellenic organizations have introduction sessions, which acquaint students with the costs of joining. At my university, we signed a sheet saying that if we were selected, we would abide by the costs of our chosen organization.

Many colleges put the financial breakdown on their website, so students and parents can understand the costs.

The first thing a new member gets billed for is new member and initiation news. Those can range from $500 to $3,200 for fraternity, and $1,500 to $2,000 for sororities, but those charges include a variety of things from a membership pin to social costs. It also includes a “parlor” fee – which allows you to use the house and eat meals there while you are living elsewhere.

That initial charge can be hefty for parents and students since that fee is on top of the dorm charges that you’re already paying.

Most students then move into the house for one to three years, depending on the policy of each organization.

Sometimes, living (and eating) in the sorority or fraternity house may actually be cheaper than living in the dorm – but the costs do vary. According to a survey of various universities, it can be $1,600 to $5,000 per semester to live in a fraternity house, and $2,500 to $3,400 per semester to live in a sorority. Check your Panhellenic Council for exact charges at your school.

Many sorority and fraternity members will live in the house for a year, and then move to an apartment. But they still must pay “parlor” fees to continue as members, which might be $1,500 to $2,000 for the year.

Now for the extras! Of course, there are formal events, where you might need a formal dress or tux. And there are gifts for sorority “daughters” or fraternity “sons” that can run up to $200 to $500 a year.

So, how can a student pay for this? Well, if you get financial aid, you may be able to use some of it to pay for housing in a Greek organization. If you get loans, you can get a refund for what’s leftover from tuition to use toward housing.

And since Greeks are social organizations, there are a lot of fun events that are hard to resist – such as spring break to warm places or winter trips to ski locations – but that’s another blog!

So why join? The sisterhood and brotherhood of a Greek organization is a lifelong network. Not only is the college experience more wonderful (my opinion), but also I’ll have friends for life, as a result. And all Greek organizations stress volunteerism and leadership, which sets us up well for life….

Lauren Steffens is a junior, majoring in art and journalism at the University of Missouri. She’s a member of Kappa Delta sorority.

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