How Joining a Sorority Helped Me Save Money in College
Would you join a sorority in college?
At first glance, the price tag is intimidating: The average cost of sorority membership at the University of Central Florida, for instance, is $1,280 per semester, according to USA Today.
Price was almost a deal breaker for me. Then I took a closer look and realized how much bang I would get for my buck -- and how joining a sorority could actually help me save money.
Outside of tuition, the biggest costs for students are rent, food and entertainment. As a recent alumna of Kappa Kappa Gamma at Florida State University, here’s how I saved money on all three by joining a sorority.
Spend Less Money on Rent
Room and board on campus (which includes a meal plan) for four years, in-state, costs approximately $9,804 per year, or $4,902 per semester. It’s tough to say how much of that is for the room portion and how much is for the meal plan, but it’s fairly apparent that sorority rent is lower.
Sororities only charge about $1,000-$1,500 per semester, based on my conversations with friends in other chapters. My rent was only $975.
This was on top of sorority dues for an entire semester. When you break it down, I was spending between $300 and $400 a month on rent, including cable, water and electricity.
Greek houses are typically on campus or within walking distance. Not to mention, most of them look like mansions. Although getting a room in the house can sometimes be competitive, juniors and seniors are almost guaranteed to get spots, and two years of saving is better than none.
If your chapter doesn’t have a house, you’re in luck! This means dues will most likely be substantially cheaper, since you don’t have to maintain a huge residence. Some chapters also offer housing alternatives, like securing an entire floor of a dorm.
Save on Food
The next big-ticket item in every college student’s budget is food. Undergrads spend absurd amounts of money on groceries, take out and extra guac.
Students spend an average of $380 per semester on off-campus food, according to The Huffington Post, if they have a meal plan. A typical food budget for those who don’t have meal plans lies somewhere around $750-$800 per semester, according to my fellow students.
By contrast, sorority dues usually include 15 meals per week, as well as study snacks. My sorority (and most at my university) used about 45% of the dues ($576 per semester, using the national average) to pay for those meals -- all of which are prepared by a professional chef, and none of which were made of Ramen.
Have Fun For Less
The final big expense for many college students is entertainment. This includes concerts, festivals, movie tickets and more.
More than 50% of students spend $25 or more per week on these activities. That works out to $400 a semester or more!
Sororities have what they call “chapter fees,” which you can think of as entertainment costs. My sorority used almost 30% of my dues ($384, according to the national average dues) to pay for these activities.
My entertainment last semester included a retreat to Universal Orlando, two tickets to an NHL hockey game (including transportation), two date functions (formals/semi-formals, which included dinner and drinks), weekly socials and monthly sisterhood activities like movie nights and private yoga sessions. Twenty-five dollars a week wouldn’t stretch that far.
Use these tricks to save even more as a member of a sorority:
- Ask your sisters if you can buy or borrow their old textbooks. They’ll usually sell them to you for super cheap because #sisterhood, or let you borrow them at no charge.
- Check your house’s study room for old books sisters left behind. My house had hundreds of old textbooks, and I usually found old editions that worked just fine.
- Make sure your chapter doesn’t fine you for being late to chapter meetings or missing events.
- Borrow your sisters’ clothes. You don’t need to spend money on a formal dress when your “Big Sister” has one she wore last year and will never wear again.
- See if your dues include any T-shirts. Most sorority girls’ wardrobes consist of T-shirts and workout shorts anyway, so you won’t need new school clothes.
- Check with the alumni groups in your hometown for scholarships. Almost every alumni chapter offers scholarships, and they can help a ton with college costs.
- Use your network. You’ll likely have at least 100,000 sisters all over the world, if not more. Bonding over your sisterhood could help you land that dream internship or job.
In my experience, sororities are well worth the investment. Not only will you have the experience of a lifetime, you can end up saving tons of money.
Your Turn: Were you in the Greek system? Did it help you save money?
Amy Daire is a recent Florida State University graduate. She is currently navigating her newfound adulthood as a freelance writer in St. Petersburg, Florida.