If you’re interested in sorority life, it’s likely you’ve heard a little bit about dues. As a potential new member, you should want to know what your financial expectations may be and what options are available to you when joining a sorority. Even though chapters will explain what their average dues are and give a basic rundown of where that money goes, it may still be confusing to understand the breakdown and expectations considering how much things can vary from chapter to chapter. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Financial transparency is an important part of recruitment and members are ready to answer your questions.
What are dues?
Sorority membership dues are fees paid to a chapter or inter/national organization to fund things such as events, chapter programming and operational expenses relating to that specific chapter. Because chapter activities can vary so much even on the same campus, there is no one-size-fits-all breakdown of what chapter dues will include. If a chapter has a house or other communal space then it is reasonable to expect there to be some kind of housing fee that pays for the upkeep and management of the property. All membership dues are invested back into the enrichment of the membership.
Sorority dues can pay for:
Dues to Inter/National Organization
Sisterhood & Social Events
Depending on the chapter, finances may be all-inclusive or pay as you go. Both options provide different benefits. All-inclusive dues ensure there are no additional fees members are expected to pay while the initial cost may be higher. Any event that is planned will already be paid for and members can attend at no extra cost. Pay-as-you-go or a la carte dues provide more flexibility and a lower initial cost. For example, a pay-as-you-go structure would require members to buy tickets to a formal or sisterhood event. If a member chooses not to attend the event she simply doesn’t have to buy the ticket.
Where does the money go?
Below is a sample breakdown of new member dues based on $500. Be aware that each chapter on each campus will look a little different and you should ask what your dues will be paying for to know what you will be getting for your investment.
Alpha Beta Example Chapter New Member Dues
- Inter/National Fee: $100
- Initiation Fee: $100
- New Member Fee: $50
- Chapter Fee: 100
- Social Events Fee: $50
- House Fee: $100
- Total: $500
To further understand where the money is allocated a budget must be reviewed line by line. A Inter/National fee line would indicate funds that are sent to the inter/national organization to support things such as digital member platforms, leadership training or chapter consultants. Initiation fees indicate fees associated with being initiated into the chapter and can include a member badge or other related supplies required to initiate members. New member fees are often associated specifically with the new member program and can pay for things such as Bid Day gifts, guidebooks and educational materials and events planned specifically for new members. A chapter fee is similar to a new member fee in that it will pay for things associated with membership programming. This could be a wide variety of things including but not limited to supplies for service events, a premium Zoom membership specifically for the chapter, event t-shirts, food for events or meetings, sisterhood events and more. Social fees go to events such as formal to pay for the venue, transportation and food. They might also help pay for supplies when hosting social events with other organizations on campus. House fees pay for important things such as cleaning supplies, property insurance and maintenance. Budgets can change year to year and there are certain one-time fees associated with being a new member of a inter/national organization. In the example above, an initiated member would only pay $350 dollars as they do not need to pay the initiation fee or new member fee again.
Once the chapter budget is set members will typically be billed for dues through an online payment platform. Members will have accounts they create when they initially join and payment will be billed there each time funds are due. The frequency of billing depends on the chapter and the available payment options. Some chapters will bill dues for an entire academic year, while others may have the option to split it into smaller semester amounts or even monthly payments. It is important to ask members what payment options are available in their chapter.
Have more questions about what paying dues? Check out this article on common dues questions.
Questions to Ask
There is a lot to understand when it comes to the financial obligations of sorority life, but these questions are a great place to start during the recruitment process.
- Are dues pay-as-you-go or all-inclusive?
- What will my dues pay for this semester?
- Are different payment plans available?
- Are scholarships available to members?
- Are scholarships available to new members?