Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor
Purdue University has a massive Greek community (roughly 18% of the student population joins a fraternity or sorority). Greek life can be great! There are activities, parties, socials, philanthropies, and the brotherhood/sisterhood bonds, activities that create lifetime memories. Many students rush houses (i.e. they join houses after going through the ‘rush’ process) but, there are costs to keep in mind. When rushing this fall do not just consider how big the house is, or how cool the members are, but also keep in mind the finances.
The Division of Financial Aid creates a Cost of Attendance each year for students. Sometimes it is easier to think of this as a system of budgets. Housing is one of the budgets listed. All students receive a budget for housing whether they are living on campus or off campus. Your financial aid will be processed by the university and sent to the university billing office (the Bursar office here at Purdue) based off the Cost of Attendance. Once at the billing office your financial aid will pay towards your university bill, tuition and fees first and housing next if you live on campus.
If you do not have a housing bill with the university and have financial aid remaining after tuition and fees are paid you or your (depending on what type of financial aid you have) parents will receive a refund check for the remaining funds. It is then up to the student to use that refund to pay all of their expenses to their fraternity or sorority. Note that since students are billed on a semester basis, refunds are sent on a semester basis. If you are using the Cost of Attendance as a budget, you will want to split it in half for the yearly amounts.
There are certain questions you need to consider when it comes to going Greek:
Does the Greek organization you’re looking at have a house? Are you required to live there? How do they bill you? If they have a house and you are required to live there, what are the costs? Is the rent monthly, on a semester basis, or all at once in the fall? Is the house willing to work with you on when the payment is due? It’s important to keep these things in mind as financial aid will always be sent once each semester in a lump sum.
Does the house provide food? Do they cater 3 meals a day 7 days a week? Do they have a cook? Is this in the housing fee or is it separate? Although some houses have cooks and provide food, others do not. Some houses have the student provide their groceries. If the student does need to get groceries, how are they going to get them? Do you have a car to drive to and from the supermarket? Do you plan on taking the bus?
Does the organization have a membership fee or dues? Some Greek organizations have membership fees, on top of the housing. Often times there are fees such as a national fee, and a chapter fee. Are these billed monthly, a lump sum or on a semester basis? Do you only pay this once when you enter the house, or every year?
So they won’t be called social fees, but you know what I’m talking about. Buying t-shirts as a group? Who’s paying for the weekend social activities? What about the balloons, confetti, and other party supplies? Every time your house has a function, social, or party there are costs. And every time you hang out with your brothers/sisters there’s probably some purchases involved (pizza, clothes at the mall, Den pops). Who’s footing those bills?
Is there a fee for going through the rush process? What about a last minute road trip to the fraternity/sorority at your neighboring college? Are you prepared for your home town friends to visit? There are many unexpected expenses one can face in or out of a Greek organization. This is one reason why an emergency fund is key for any financial plan.
Non-monetary Fees: Not all fees cost money. What about your time? You are here first and foremost to be a student. It takes time to study and prepare. Do you have time to keep up your Greek social life and maintain a high GPA? Some houses even require you to maintain a specific GPA in order to stay a member.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There could be more expenses, there could be less, and it’s just a something to keep in mind when deciding to join a house. Joining a house can be a great experience, and you can meet lots of people, see new sites, and make memories that will last a lifetime! Just do what works best for you, and consider all angles when deciding.
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