Costs of sisterhood, brotherhood add up

USC fees average for sororities, on higher end for fraternities

Potential lifelong sisterhood and brotherhood come at a price, and this year that price is slightly higher for sorority hopefuls.

With a record number of potential new members registering for Panhellenic sorority recruitment and with extra meals being provided during the process, the total cost of sorority recruitment has risen by a third since last year, said Alex Rodbell, Sorority Council vice president for recruitment. Up from about $150,000 last year to $200,000 this year, the sorority recruitment budget is entirely funded by registration fees.

The cost to the nearly 1,600 women who wish to join sororities this fall was $120 for early registration and $160 for late, up from $95 and $120 last year.

For Interfraternity Council fraternity recruitment, the cost of registration has remained mostly steady through recent years, said Blake Cordell, Fraternity Council vice president of recruitment. Potential new members pay $40 in advance and an additional $20 if they accept a bid to a fraternity.

But the rewards of brotherhood, Cordell said, are worth the price tag.

“You’re getting out of it a great experience in general,” Cordell said.

Because recruitment began three days before the official campus move-in date, registration fees covered the cost of early move-in and meals before campus dining services began operating.

With a total of eight meals being provided, food takes up the largest portion of the recruitment budget, Rodbell said. Other major costs include paying for the use of the Carolina Coliseum to accommodate the large number of women, as well as providing two T-shirts and various other items for each potential new member.
Compared to a sampling of other schools in the region, the cost of sorority recruitment at USC is average. Among the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Clemson University, the University of Georgia, the University of Florida and the University of Alabama, the average fee for the latest recruitment registration is $160.

Recruitment costs at those schools range from $55 for early registration at UNC to $250 for the latest registration at Alabama.
The dues don’t end after recruitment. The average first-semester cost for new members of USC’s 11 Panhellenic sororities is $906, compared to $534 for average semester dues for existing members.

“We definitely do want (potential new members) to know the costs affiliated with joining a sorority,” Rodbell said. “And we try to be upfront about it because it is a big financial commitment.”
While the costs associated with sorority life may immediately fund chapter activities and services, Rodbell said, they are also helping to build a successful future for each member.

Friendship, leadership opportunities and character building are among the benefits of sisterhood, Rodbell said.

“It’s so much more than a group of friends,” she said.

Minus some of the frills associated with sorority recruitment, incoming fraternity members at USC pay significantly less for recruitment — not as little as some schools in the region, but moderately priced compared to others.

UNC, Clemson and Florida have no registration fees for fraternity recruitment, and the cost is $20 at Alabama. At Georgia, potential new members pay $100 to register for recruitment.

“With more money comes more frills,” Cordell said. “Ours covers the experience. It gets you what you need — you meet the people, you meet the chapters.”

The biggest expense for fraternity recruitment is T-shirts for the more than 270 potential new members, budgeted at around $3,500, Cordell said. Other expenses include tents and tables during Greek Village tours, chapter signs and Greene Street giveaways to promote fraternity life.

Cordell estimates that about two-thirds of the recruitment registration fees go toward funding actual recruitment costs, while the rest go toward other semester activities and spring recruitment.
Beyond the recruitment phase, the average first-semester cost for new members of the 16 IFC chapters is $839, compared to the average existing member cost of $885 per semester among those chapters.
Cordell said he looks at the cost of the fraternity experience as an investment — and the returns are friendships, leadership and networking opportunities for the future.

“You’re meeting guys that are going to be your best men at your wedding,” Cordell said.


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