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With the 2017-2018 academic year underway, this question will be revisited time and time again: “Why should I spend such an absurd amount of money to attend college?”
In all likelihood, university officials and campus tour guides will offer the following response: “Our university will provide a top-notch education and offer real-world training that will prepare you to land a high-paying job in four years.”
Without a doubt, if you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to college, the answer above provides good enough reason to do so. But, there is also much, much more to attending a higher education institution.
College teaches you about yourself, your passions, and what is important in your life. Those four or five years give you the opportunity to meet individuals with like-minded interests and to expand your professional and social networks.
For many undergraduates, going “Greek” by joining a sorority or fraternity is one of the best ways to broaden said networks.
However, becoming a member of a fraternity or sorority can be terribly expensive, and considering 60 percent of college students graduate with student loan debt, going “Greek” is a cost many college-goers simply can’t afford.
Or so we thought . . .
According to a new LendEDU poll, many college students are using one problem as a solution to another problem: Using student loan money to pay for sorority or fraternity dues.
54.8% of “Greek” Student Borrowers Use Student Loan Money to Pay for Fraternity/Sorority Dues
In a poll commissioned by LendEDU, 500 current four-year college students that were all members of a fraternity or sorority and had student loan debt were asked the following question: “Have you used money from student loans to pay for fraternity/sorority dues, fees, and other related expenses?”
Overall, our poll revealed that 54.80 percent of student loan borrowers who are in a “Greek” organization have used student loan money to pay for their organizations’ dues or membership fees. When the results were broken down by gender, females (57.20 percent) were more likely to use money received for student loans to afford sorority or fraternity dues than were males (52.40 percent).
You may be asking yourself this: “How is it possible to use student loan money for anything other than student loans?”
If you are a student with access to financial aid, the money is administered by your respective school’s financial aid office. The financial aid office takes out the amount necessary for tuition fees, while the remaining funds are deposited directly into the student loan borrower’s bank account. The student is urged to use the leftover money for miscellaneous educational expenses (books, housing, etc.), but the financial aid office has no way of keeping track of the money. So, the money is left to be spent according to the borrower’s discretion.
These borrowers, however, don’t always make the best decisions with this money, as shown by an earlier LendEDU study. That study found that 30.60 percent of college students going on spring break used student loan funds to pay for their spring break excursions.
We asked the same group of respondents that answered “Yes” to the central question of this poll the following question: “Do you regret using student loan money to pay for your fraternity/sorority dues, fees, and other related expenses?”
Ultimately, the majority of student loan borrowers, 54.74 percent, that used financial aid money for their respective “Greek” organization’s dues stated that they regretted that decision. Interestingly, males were somewhat less regretful than females. 51.15 percent of males regretted how they allocated their student loan money, while 48.85 percent thought “all of the fun times were worth it.” In comparison, 58.04 percent of females expressed regret over using their student loan money for fraternity or sorority dues, while 41.96 percent had too much fun to regret such a decision.
Finally, LendEDU wanted to find out if this cohort of college respondents were using student loan funds for anything else besides fraternity or sorority dues. We posed the following two questions:
- “Have you used student loan money to pay for drugs?”
- “Have you used student loan money to pay for alcohol?”
Overall, we found that 12 percent of the poll participants have used student loan money to pay for alcohol, while slightly less, 5.6 percent, used student loans on drugs. Male respondents were much more likely to use their student loan money on drugs (9.6%) and alcohol (16.4%) than were females (1.6% and 7.6%, respectively).
In summation, joining a sorority or fraternity can be a great experience for any college student. Within such an organization, students can connect with relatable people, expand their networks, and make even the biggest of universities seem small and comfortable. However, fraternities and sororities are a serious monetary commitment. If a college-goer is already buried neck-deep in student debt, joining “Greek” life could be the straw that broke the piggybank’s back.
Allocating financial aid towards fraternity or sorority dues might solve a temporary problem, but the long-term issue of repaying student loans will only worsen. Think of a fraternity or sorority as a luxury, not a necessity: If you have the resources to join one than that is great, but understand your limits and know that there is more to college than “Greek” life. On the other hand, student loans are not a luxury and no matter how long it may take, repaying that debt will be necessary.
All data used in this report came from a poll commissioned by LendEDU and conducted online by polling company Pollfish. The poll ran over a six-day span from August 25, 2017 to August 30, 2017. All respondents were screened to ensure they were current college students attending a four-year college or university, a member of a fraternity or sorority, and have taken on student debt. Respondents were first filtered to guarantee we were getting answers from Americans between the ages of 18 and 24.
They were then asked the following screener question: “Which of the following sentences best describes you?” Out of seven possible answers, the following was accepted: “Currently attending a four-year college, member of a fraternity/sorority, and have student loan debt.” In total, we polled 500 very specific respondents. Further, a gender quota was enabled to ensure that we received responses from 250 females and 250 males. Respondents were asked to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their ability.
See more of LendEDU’s Research
Author: Mike Brown