A couple of nights ago we paid our youngest daughter’s sorority bill.  I always feel like I must have the defibrillator on hand…it nearly puts my poor husband into cardiac arrest each month.

When each of our girls decided to go through recruitment we never really considered the bottom line cost of joining a sorority.  I actually don’t remember what it cost to be a member and live-in when I joined.   I was at a small liberal arts college and although Greek Life was big I don’t remember it being particularly expensive.  I seem to remember that I used joining and being a member of a sorority as an excuse to supplement my already ample clothing budget.

Daughter number 2, who attended college at a state school about 3 hours away went through formal recruitment as an incoming freshman.  There were no pre-recruitment teas or gatherings.  Her recruitment was actually the week after school began and was conducted in the evenings after classes.  It had the same format, ice water teas, house tours/philanthropy, skit day and pref.  Bid day was on a Saturday and the sororities had huge carnival themed parties all day.  We didn’t really buy any “Special” clothes.  She wore a jean skirt, a pair of shorts, a sundress and a black cocktail dress.  All of her clothing she already owned . She didn’t feel any pressure to have special clothes for this occasion.  Many of her friends went through and there really wasn’t a lot of worry or concern over having the “right clothes” or “look”.  It was not terribly stressful or expensive.  When she pledged there were not a lot of fees and when I looked back at the bill (had to dig for that one) we paid $250 up front for her initial chapter dues, international dues, new member fees, pledge pin and a couple other incidentals.   We then paid another $250 at the time of initiation.  In addition we paid $75 a month for Parlor fees and the house fund.  That totaled about $800 for the first semester.  These fees did not include “living in” and when she moved into the house her sophomore year her fee to have a bedroom at the house was the same as having a dorm room and our parlor fees went down to $39 a month.  the second semester she only paid the $75 /$39 a month ..much cheaper. None of that seemed unreasonable and she lived in the house for 2 years before moving to a house with several of her sorority sisters.  Sorority life for her was laid back, easy going and she loved it.

Out youngest daughter attends a large SEC school where sorority life is HUGE!!!!  Pre-recruitment teas and gatherings started the January before formal recruitment.  Since we lived 12 hours away it required us to drive to these events, get a hotel room, and of course new clothes were needed as well.  Panhellenic hosted a Preview Weekend at the end of March.  Of course there were also teas and barbecues during that time that were again “invite only” .  My daughter stayed with a sorority girl but I had 2 nights in a hotel in town plus meals out and there were the outfits of clothes (again).  It was at Preview that the sticker shock of sorority life at a competitive Greek Campus set in.

Each sorority had a pamphlet that outlined the costs per semester to pledge and ultimately become a member of those sorority. This is a brief synopsis of those costs….

National New Member Expense $240

Chapter New Member Expenses $575

Meals $1450

Parlor fee $415

House Fund $200

Security $175

National Dues $100

Chapter dues $475

Miscellaneous $300…total $3930!!!!!

In addition each sorority asked you to deposit into a separate account $300 per semester for purchases such as t-shirts. pics ect.

The reason I am posting this today is that I wanted everyone to understand that while on some campuses a simple $800 will give you a fun filled semester of sisterhood there are other campuses where the recruitment process is more competitive and the bill reflects that as well.

My daughter’s school has probably the first or second most competitive recruitment in the US.  We knew this going in.  I had heard “rumors” that it was quite pricey but never dreamed that it was an additional $8000 a year (in fees and dues only!).    I am somewhat embarrassed to say we totally “bought into” the process.  My daughter had dresses that sported labels you would see in Vogue, Lucky, and In Style.  We really tried hard to get clothing that was unique but also in line with the very conservative dress of the young women at her school.  She has shoes and accessories to match each outfit.  In addition she noticed a particular line fo jewelry that the sorority girls wore, which carried a hefty price tag….yep had to buy that as well.  My husband was not terribly happy each month as the credit card statements came and we explained..”oh it was for recruitment”.

Once she received a bid and became a pledge she needed clothes for Swaps and Date Parties.  Her sorority had 2 cocktail parties first semester (that required 2 trip to the Mall in the next town for dresses) as well as another dance where they were required to dress up in hunting gear. There were birthday presents for her new “sisters”, presents for her “big” sis and then came Fall break (which was a trip to the gulf coast…..several days in a condo,which belonged to a sorority sis, but there was food, and alcohol and gas), then a plane trip home at Thanksgiving and another at Christmas…oh and don’t forget the Christmas presents for all of the girls….when we added it all up the official sorority bill was (drum roll please…..)  $8245 for the FIRST SEMESTER…thought we were going to have to medicate my husband!

I’m not telling you this to scare you away from going through recruitment…. but rather to let you go into the process with your eyes open to the costliness of belonging to a sorority, especially one that is housed on a campus that is very competitive and most likely  situated in the South.

If you asked me I would tell you that the networking, sisterhood, friendships formed and the opportunities afforded my daughter far outweighed the sorority costs.  It has and will continue to be worth every single penny.

Many sororities have scholarship monies available to their initiated members.  You usually cannot apply for these scholarships until your sophomore year but if money is an issue and you can get the first year under your belt… there is help out there.  I noticed an email the other day from my daughters sorority stating that there were 3 separate scholarships available for next year and the applications process was beginning.

So get out the piggy bank and start saving now…..you don’t have to go all bells and whistle like we did.  If you are going to a school that is not an SEC school then most likely your costs and fees will not be quite so stiff but you should plan to spend at least $1000 to $1500 in sorority costs per semester.

I will share one last tid bit.  My daughter was particularly smitten with a certain sorority that had a crown as their symbol.  The night before Bid Day I dreamed she received a bid from that house.  While standing on the lawn with tears of joy running down her cheeks one of the beautiful blond members place a glittering REAL diamond tiara on her head.  We oohed and ahhed at how it sparkled in the sunlight and then the sorority girls said ” That will be $5000.00 dollars please”!  I realized she was waiting for me to get in my purse, get out my check book and write a check for the $5000 right that minute.  Taping her foot expectantly she looked at me, my daughter was staring at me with those pleading eyes that said “Mom…..do it now” and so  I excused my self, moving over behind a hedge ,I called my husband.  I explained what a happy day it was that our dear daughter had received a bid to her dream house and then kind of mumbled over the part about how I was now going to write a $5000 check for a diamond tiara.  Guess he has better hearing than I thought because you could have heard the word “NO”!!!!!!!! clear to the next state.  He calmly explained I was to find the closest novelty store and buy her a plastic one.  I pleaded, cried, promised we wouldn’t buy another thing for 10 years but it was to no avail…he wasn’t budging.  I woke up just as I was beginning to take the tiara off and hand it back while my daughter was wailing…..

My dear daughter did not receive a bid from that house and even if she had she would not have been presented with a real diamond tiara but rather a plastic one from the local novelty store.   I did not have to write any checks on Bid Day although I was handed all of the financial information pertaining to membership.  Much to my delight we would not have to write a check for a whole 2 weeks…..that gave me quite a while to hatch a plan as to how to tell my husband about the “little bill” that would be arriving in the mail. As I sat waiting for my plane to whisk me away from her college campus and home to my husband, I came up with what I thought was the best plan ever……. I could put her brother up on Ebay!!!!!