Afford Greek dues without breaking the bank

Photo Credit: Leanne Chia

There’s no denying that Greek life plays a major role in student life on the 40 Acres. Whether you’re an incoming freshman who can’t wait to don your dream letters, or a second-year student looking to join the vibrant community, rush will soon be upon you. But, you must also pay the price — literally.

Between plopping down cash for fall textbooks, shopping for new dorm furniture and paying rent and tuition, the “broke college kid” label could not be more accurate. On top of that, sororities and fraternities aren’t very forgiving. While it may seem that those rushing are more than willing to fork over the money for expensive membership dues and social events, the truth is, not everyone can afford the high costs.

“Money was definitely a huge concern of mine,” said Olivia Ursi, a UT sorority member. “Everyone knows that UT sororities are some of the most expensive, and I really worried about getting into a sorority and not being able to stay if I couldn’t afford dues.”

Ursi, the youngest of five and the first in her family to go to college right after high school, had always pictured Greek life as a part of her ideal college experience. Throughout high school, she saved money from part-time jobs to fund her social activities. Now, she continues to have a job in college to help pay her sorority dues. As a sophomore biochemistry major, she ensures that having a job on the side is doable.

“[Having jobs in high school] made me more mature and more fiscally responsible…I also don’t buy as many things as the sorority has to offer, a lot of it is optional, and I don’t think many girls know that,” Ursi said.

If you are determined to be in a sorority or a fraternity, don’t be deterred by having to pay for it on your own. Robby Lopez, the president of Acacia fraternity, chose not to accept financial support from his parents, and has learned that it’s not as hard as you might think.

“All it takes is a level of focus and vision in order to make [paying dues] happen,” Lopez said. He suggests working a part-time job during the school year, as well as seeking out a full-time job during the summer to save up for the next semester. Aside from that, there are other sources of income for college students, such as research studies around campus or other odd jobs.

“In the end, the number one way to keep afloat is to manage your money and time wisely,” Lopez, a civil engineering senior, said. “Don’t panic or feel frustrated.”

Many sororities and fraternities understand that not everyone is financially blessed. If they want you to be a member, they will work with you. Some have payment plans that allow members to pay their dues in smaller installments. If your house is part of a larger organization, there may be scholarships or grants available for members. Do research online or ask leaders in your campus chapter if they know anyone to contact. If you have the determination to become involved in in the Greek community, being resourceful and managing your time wisely can help you reach your goal.

Both Lopez and Ursi assure that the rewards associated with Greek life are worth the hard work. Ursi, who rushed as a sophomore, is grateful for the support her sorority has given her.

“If the sorority you choose is really your home, then they will figure something out just for you,” she said.

Joining a sorority has made her more confident and motivated.

“I made a ton of friends, some of whom will probably be my bridesmaids in the future,” Ursi said. “The circle of people you meet isn’t the only thing that helps — I feel like I became who I wanted to be in college.”