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Can you use scholarships or grants for Greek life costs?

Published February 20, 2024| minute read

    If you want to join a fraternity or sorority while in college, you may realize that additional costs are required to be a part of a Greek life organization.  

    Depending on the organization you join and your school, application fees and dues can vary widely. Dues generally cover social events, insurance, national or international chapter dues, and operational costs such as recruitment and upkeep of community spaces. In addition, living in a sorority or fraternity house could add to the cost of joining a Greek life organization.

    If you receive federal financial aid, scholarships, or grants, you may be able to use the funds to cover some or all of the costs of being a part of a fraternity or sorority. However, this will largely depend on the types of aid you’re receiving and the terms and conditions of your aid.

    Continue reading to learn more about the specifics of using certain financial aid to cover Greek life costs. 

    Can you use federal financial aid for Greek life costs?

    Federal financial aid — which includes federal grants, student loans, and work-study — is awarded to eligible students based on a college's cost of attendance.

    Individual colleges and universities calculate their cost of attendance and include line items like tuition, fees, room and board, and living costs. They often list that number on their website and make it readily available. Greek life costs aren’t factored into the cost of attendance number at most schools.

    Federal financial aid is awarded by the federal government and distributed by colleges based on their cost of attendance figures. Because of that, when schools are awarding students with financial aid, Greek life costs won’t be considered.

    For those seeking to use their federal financial aid to cover some of their Greek life costs, there’s a nuance regarding room and board expenses. Most colleges have a cost of attendance figure for students living off campus. If you get enough aid to cover your tuition and other expenses like room and board, that aid can possibly be used to pay for off-campus housing, including living in a fraternity or sorority house.

    You may want to seek advice from a tax professional on the implications of using aid in this way if you choose to.

    Can scholarships and grant money be used for sorority or fraternity costs?

    If you receive scholarships or grants from an entity that isn’t the federal government — like an institution, corporation, or nonprofit — you should check with the source of the aid to see what’s allowed to be covered by the award.

    Sometimes, grants and scholarships have similar rules to federal financial aid. Other times, these awards are more flexible, and students can use the funds for additional living expenses and costs while attending school. Because of that, depending on the grant or scholarship, the award can sometimes be used for fraternity or sorority fees.

    There are also scholarships available specifically for students to cover all or a part of their Greek life costs. We’ll cover this in more detail below.

    Can private student loans be used to cover sorority or fraternity costs?

    If you’re already taking out private student loans to supplement your financial aid, you may wonder if these loans can be used to cover Greek life costs. Private student loans can, in some cases, cover your Greek life expenses. However, it’s important to check the terms and conditions of any private student loans you’re applying for or considering using in this way.

    Keep in mind that whatever money you borrow in student loans will have to be paid back, so be sure to borrow only what you need to keep your future costs as low as possible. If you’re considering taking out private student loans to help pay for Greek life costs, consider if you truly want to make this decision, as participating in Greek life isn’t a requirement for obtaining a degree.

    Are there scholarships and grants for people who want to join sororities or fraternities?

    Some sororities and fraternities offer scholarships and grants to help students cover the costs. Reach out to the Greek life organizations you’re considering joining to see what scholarships they offer (if any). Other organizations provide scholarships to help with Greek life costs, too.

    Below are a few of the many national Greek organizations that offer scholarships:

    Other options to pay for Greek life costs

    To help with Greek life costs, some chapters may provide members with payment plans to help break up the costs over time. If this is necessary for you or if you think it would help, ask any organization you’re considering joining to see if they offer this.

    Final thoughts

    Joining Greek life can be a great experience. However, the membership costs can add up. Do the math beforehand to see if this is something you can afford, and then devise a plan for how you can best pay for it to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success.