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I’ll admit it, you guys. It’s obvious, and it’s time, even though finally acknowledging this has shame washing over me like vodka from that shot luge I once passed out under during our “Baby It’s Cold Outside” Christmas mixer. I paid for my friends. After a mutual selection process, I committed to become a part of an organization that required me to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to participate in and reap the benefits of, including the massive social benefits that were a part of paying all that money. I paid for my friends…by going to college and making friends there.
Fortunately, I actually saved money at the University of Missouri by joining a fraternity and living in the house, which was cheaper than living in the dorms (and still is). It was also arguably a whole hell of a lot more bang for my buck. So I guess you could say I paid for my friends differently than a GDI? They went friend shopping at a locally owned, overpriced market while I grabbed like five whole pallets of friends at Costco. That analogy is kind of stupid, admittedly, though it never had a chance of being anything but, since the “Greeks pay for friends” criticism it’s based on is walking-through-a-closed-glass-door level of idiotic. And, hey, here’s the Washington Post to help confirm that.
But as more students graduate from college carrying significant debt, some say the high cost of living on campus could be putting an additional burden on the students who can least afford it.
Room and board at private four-year universities costs an average of $9,678, an expense that has gone up 47 percent in the past decade, according to the College Board. At public four-year colleges, the average price is $9,130 and has increased 58 percent in the past 10 years. In a nine-month academic year, that works out to $1,014.44 a month for what is in many cases a shared room and communal dining, well above the median asking rent of $803 a month recorded by the Census Bureau.
Because university meal plans are often a separate charge from room and board — and an additional several thousand dollars a year — the Washington Post may actually be lowballing the cost of living in the dorms.
Granted, there are a few caveats. Most schools don’t require freshmen to live in dorms, though the vast majority do anyway. Also, fraternities carry fees that dorms do not, specifically membership dues and social fees, though the latter is money that, were the student not in a house, would probably be spent in some sort of social capacity anyway. Social fees also aren’t a requirement. You don’t have to pay them if you don’t want to go to the house’s events or participate in things like intramurals. (That’s not exactly a common occurrence, but that opt out clause does usually exist.)
However, even with these extra dues, a fraternity’s cost still might not add up to living in a dorm. I’m going to use my alma mater as an example here, both because I have the easiest access to that information — I’m on the back nine of a two day hangover so a few emails is about all the research I can handle right now (he said, crapping on what little credibility he had) — and because Mizzou is about as typical of a state school as you could possibly find.
Living in the median priced (and relatively new or newly remodeled) dorms at Mizzou costs $7,380 for the 2015-2016 academic year. The mid-priced meal plan for the year is $3,150. That brings a grand total of $10,530 for room and board if you live in a decent dorm and plan on eating 450 meals this year at Mizzou (and without Dobbs mealtime is kind of hollow and meaningless now. RIP Dirty Dobbs). The lowest one could possibly pay to live and eat on campus is $7,715, while the highest is $12,825.
Meanwhile, the cost of living for freshmen in my fraternity’s house — a large house that recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation — is $9,560 (meals and all membership dues except social fee included) plus a refundable, one time $500 deposit. Add on another $325 for social fee and you get a total of $9,885 give or take $500 depending on the amount of holes you want to punch into walls and closed glass doors you walk through (or be dared to run through by a group chanting your name). While I don’t have immediate access to the cost of living at the other 30-something fraternities at Mizzou, these costs strike me as relatively average, especially considering the physical quality of the house.
So, uh, fraternities can actually cost less a lot of times, huh? Weird. I just assumed if enough people say some shit a lot it has to be true. That’s not the case? World rocked over here.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, we’re all social sellouts. Because whether you’re paying for a dorm and living with people whom you are or will become friends with, or a 90’s throwback mixer that will soon be considered racist cultural appropriation because a bunch of white guys are wearing the old jerseys of black basketball players (you put on a Chris Mullin jersey or an NHL sweater you micro-aggressive bastards!), or even that adult kickball league you join after you graduate to make friends in the new city you moved to where you don’t really know anyone, we all pay for friends. So shut up about it..
[via The Washington Post]