Joining the Greek community means "opportunities for leadership development, service, brotherhood, academic achievement, networking and social engagement," "a home away from home" and "an opportunity to belong to one of the world's largest lifelong, personal development organizations," according to the North-American Interfraternity Conference, a trade association representing 5,500 men's fraternities at more than 800 U.S. college campuses.

In the 2010-2011 school year, the most recent year for which data are available, more than 300,000 men belonged to undergraduate fraternities, gave 2.25 million hours of community service and raised $14.6 million for charity. The National Pan-Hellenic Conference, which represents 2,986 women's fraternity and sorority chapters on 655 campuses, says women's fraternities provide value beyond the college years, by helping individuals develop their potential "through leadership opportunities and group effort." While you may not be able to put a price on benefits like these, you can put a price on the many expenses associated with membership.

SEE: What You Need To Do Before Applying To College

Room and Board
The room and board expenses associated with belonging to a sorority or fraternity vary by school and chapter. At the University of North Carolina (UNC), for example, the average cost for a fraternity member's room, board and dues is $2,970 per semester but ranges from $1,600 to $5,000. For sorority members, the average cost is $2,987 per semester and the range is $2,575 to $3,407. Living in a Greek house is not necessarily more expensive than living in student housing and buying a university meal plan. For example, in Westwood, the upscale Los Angeles neighborhood where UCLA resides, Greek housing can actually save students money. The costs for both seem to be steadily rising as well, but there are ways to combat rising college costs.

New Member Dues and Active Member Dues
At UNC, new members pay $600-$900 in new member dues in the semester when they join. Thereafter, the average cost is $200 to $300 per semester. Dues consist of chapter dues, national dues and pan-hellenic dues. This money helps cover expenses, such as liability insurance, house upkeep, scholarships and social events. Some chapters have payment plans that help members meet their dues obligations.

SEE: Student Borrowing: University Payment Plan Vs. Federal Student Loans

Some chapters impose fines on individual members for breaking rules. You might have to pay up if you miss a mandatory meeting or activity, or don't meet GPA standards. Recruitment infractions can also result in fines, which might cost $50 per violation. Members may also be fined for not doing assigned housework or for drinking alcohol at events where alcohol consumption is not allowed. Some chapters allow these fines to be paid in service hours. Also, Greek houses can face fines for fire code violations, trash violations and failure to submit required paperwork on time. In a worst-case scenario, a house could face expensive police fines for violations of city laws, such as serving alcohols to minors and exceeding house occupancy limits during parties.

Social Expenses
Expenses associated with social activities can be difficult to estimate before joining a sorority or fraternity. They can vary significantly by chapter but they're also the expense you technically have the most control over. However, just because it isn't mandatory to donate to every charity event and buy a new dress for every dance and a new t-shirt for every function, doesn't mean you won't feel like these expenses are required when you're overtly or subtly pressured into them. Social expenses can add hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to the cost of "going Greek."

You might be expected to spend money on clothes with your chapter's colors and letters, gifts for your brothers or sisters, event tickets, outings to restaurants and bars, limousine rentals for formal nights out and professional event photos. In some chapters, you could face pressure to buy designer clothes and accessories to maintain the group's self-styled image.

SEE: Pay For College Without Selling A Kidney

Alumni Expenses
Students who take to heart the lifelong membership component of the Greek system will find themselves with sorority- and fraternity-related expenses long after they graduate. "Adults spend an astronomical amount of money as members of alumni chapters of fraternal organizations, especially in the African-American community," says Crystal L. Kendrick, president of Cincinnati marketing firm The Voice of Your Customer.

"Many professionals join alumni chapters at costs that could easily reach $1,000," she says. In addition to joining fees, there are event fees. Regional and national sorority conventions that give graduates an opportunity to meet members of all ages of their chapters from other colleges, but it costs money to travel to and participate in these events. Kendrick adds that supporting various fundraising efforts throughout the year and purchasing expensive paraphernalia can further add to alumni expenses.

Career Advantages
Fraternity and sorority members are more likely to graduate and, as a group, have slightly higher GPAs than their non-Greek peers. Beyond graduation, if you nurture the social connections you'll develop as a member of the Greek system, you can have access to a lifelong network that can help you get a job and advance in your career. Numerous politicians, Fortune 500 executives, Supreme Court justices and American presidents belonged to fraternities or sororities.

The Bottom Line
The expenses associated with Greek life may not be that different than what you'd pay as a non-Greek student purchasing the school's room and board package and participating in other extracurricular activities, such as sports, clubs, university-wide events and social gatherings. Also, Greek scholarships are sometimes available to help offset college expenses. Expenses do vary significantly by chapter, so if money is a concern, find out as much as you can about the costs you'll face before you pledge, and decide whether those expenses are worth it for the experiences you'll have and the connections you'll gain through Greek life.

SEE: Last-Minute Strategies To Help Pay For College

Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    Does It Make Sense to Go to College in Europe?

    If you're deciding whether to get a degree abroad, first do your research and talk to alumni who have completed the same program.
  2. Credit & Loans

    Four Ways to Improve Education In America

    U.S. students place 27th in math and 20th in science out of 34 countries. The United States must reform its education system or harm future economic productivity and global trade competitiveness.
  3. Home & Auto

    Millennials Guide: 6 Routes to the Right Roommate

    Choosing the right roommate is key to not risking and ruining your credit history. Some simple precautions can save you from a financial nightmare.
  4. Personal Finance

    8 Profitable Majors For The College-Bound In 2015

    Choose your college major wisely to justify the rising cost of higher education. Here are 8 majors that lead to good jobs and high salaries.
  5. Personal Finance

    8 Reasons Why Valued Employees Quit

    Salaries are important, but retaining top employees requires more than just providing competitive pay.
  6. Professionals

    How Advisors Can Minimize Their Own Risks

    Risk management is important in any enterprise. But when it comes to the financial advisory business, the stakes are higher.
  7. Personal Finance

    3 Key Steps To Take Before You Quit Your Job

    Leaving a job on the best basis means thinking through everything from professional etiquette to what's financially adequate.
  8. Brokers

    A Day in the Life of a Financial Advisor

    Financial advisors do a lot more than just manage portfolios, including prospecting, marketing, client servicing, compliance and administration.
  9. Credit & Loans

    What Does It Cost to Study Abroad in Paris?

    Housing will be your biggest budget challenge as a student in Paris, but the city offers lots of ways for students to save money, too.
  10. Savings

    Using Your 529 Savings to Study Abroad

    With studying abroad no longer cheap, families may find that a 529 plan college-savings account can fund educational travel. Tip: Read the fine print.
  1. Series 6

    A securities license entitling the holder to register as a limited ...
  2. Whartonite

    A graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University ...
  3. Advanced Diploma In Insurance

    A qualification earned by insurance professionals and conferred ...
  4. Associate In Personal Insurance ...

    A designation earned by professionals looking for training in ...
  5. Associate In Reinsurance (ARe)

    A designation earned by insurance professionals looking for reinsurance ...
  6. Associate In Surplus Lines Insurance ...

    A designation earned by insurance professionals involved with ...
  1. Can I use my IRA to pay for my college loans?

    If you are older than 59.5 and have been contributing to your IRA for more than five years, you may withdraw funds to pay ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can I use my 401(k) to pay for my college loans?

    If you are over 59.5, or separate from your plan-sponsoring employer after age 55, you are free to use your 401(k) to pay ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the best MBA programs for corporate finance?

    Opinions vary based on which publications you consult, but the best MBA programs for a career in corporate finance are at ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What are the benefits of hiring a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) to be my financial ...

    A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) has successfully passed rigorous coursework in the fields of economics, financial analysis, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. For which kind of jobs is having Magnum Cum Laude most important?

    Having a magna cum laude degree is most important for jobs in the fields of finance, management consulting and engineering. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What does passing the Series 6 enable me to do?

    The Series 6, or the Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Limited Representative, exam is administered by the Financial ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!