CHICAGO (NewsNation) — Joining a college sorority has many benefits, including finding community, networking and participating in philanthropy, but it comes with a steep financial commitment.
The phenomenon of sorority rush at the University of Alabama went viral in August 2021, sparking a new documentary that examines the efforts young women will make in order to land in the sorority of their dreams. Thanks to TikTok, It sparked the public’s interest, with many calling out the lengths women will go to in order to get into Greek life, as well as the price tag that sometimes comes with it.
So, how much does it cost to be in a sorority?
Some students will even shell out cash to coaches and sorority consultants like Lorie Stefanelli, the founder of Greek Chic Consultants.
“That could be anything from the registration, wardrobe, social media,” said Stefanelli, who was also once in a sorority.
On average, joining a sorority costs between $1,000 and $4,750 per semester, according to Bankrate. These costs usually include application fees, member dues, recruitment fees and social expenses.
It’s also important to note that initial fees for new sorority members tend to be higher than fees for returning members. For example, at The University of Alabama, new members typically pay between $4,170 and $4,978 per semester for their first year only.
The University of Alabama has one of the largest and most active Greek communities in the nation, with more than 10,000 students participating. In August 2021, the public got a rare peek inside the sacred tradition when pledges started posting about recruitment.
The internet became obsessed with hashtags like #BamaRush and #RushTok, a trend where potential new members showed off their outfits of the day, dances and songs and outings. The hashtag has been viewed nearly three million times on TikTok.
It’s a testament to the power of social media, as platforms like Instagram and TikTok have become a huge part of the acceptance process.
“Back then, we didn’t have social media, apps, websites, or anything like that,” Stefanelli said.
HBO Max’s new documentary “Bama Rush,” which premiered on May 23, takes a closer look at the viral phenomenon and sheds light on the experience of four young women going through sorority recruitment at the University of Alabama in fall 2022.
Stefanelli, who is featured in the documentary, said the positivity sisterhood promotes led her to sign up for the project.
“It wasn’t going to be negative or toxic; however, in the documentary, there are some elements about Greek life and college in general that can be toxic,” Stefanelli said.
As for whether she’s ever felt concerned for the young pledges she coaches, Stefanelli said no.
“The rankings come from fraternity boys, so the top house has the hottest girls,” she said.
Stefanelli also denied allegations that fraternities pick which women are accepted into Greek society and instead, point the finger at men outside of the institutions who sexualize these young women.
“That first year when it started blowing up all over the place, you had like Barstool Sports, like grown men in vans down there trying to interview girls, which was kind of disgusting,” she explained.
Stefanelli said, at the end of the day, women who participate in Greek life walk away after four years with more confidence and communication skills.
“I think also to promote this sisterhood in a positive way that we need to focus more on the academics of it and the community involvement that these girls do,” she said. “I mean some of them put in 250-plus hours a year.”
Stefanelli said that while appearance does play a role in the acceptance process, she’s never known any women who’ve gone to extreme lengths, such as plastic surgery, in order to get into a sorority.