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Financial Obligations with Sororities & Fraternities

Fraternities and sororities can be quite affordable, and fees go to services that will positively impact students by providing them with leadership skills, academic assistance and lifelong friendships.

Each chapter is responsible for determining dues (used for the betterment of the chapter and the inter/national organization), as well as one-time new member and initiation fees. If the chapter has a housing facility, there may be requirements to live in for some amount of time. Rent in these facilities is comparable to, if not cheaper than, many other housing units.

To assist members, chapters may offer various scholarships and grants and provide payment plans. Students are encouraged to ask questions related to finances during the recruitment process and go over the costs associated with fraternities and sororities with their parents.

Each member has a financial obligation to his or her chapter. Below is a description of some of the obligations and how they are funded.

Bursar Billing

Cornell University offers all chapters the use of the university Bursar system. Some chapters choose not to use the Bursar system and bill through their national organization or an accounting firm.

A number of conditions must be met in order to use the Bursar system:

  • Bursar Assignment Agreement: The chapter must sign an agreement with the University stipulating the responsibilities of both parties in the relationship.
  • Bursar Release Form: Each student billed through the system must complete a release form that acknowledges that his/her chapter charges billed through the Bursar are subject to the same nonpayment consequences as other University charges.
  • Only full-time registered students can be billed through the system.
  • Use of the system can only be obtained by using one of two approved accounting firms in Ithaca: Student Management Corporation and Sciarabba Walker & Co. Chapters who reside in university-owned houses can work through the Fraternity & Sorority Life.
  • Only charges for housing, dining, social dues, member dues, and damage deposits may be applied to Bursar bills.

Meal Plan Billing

New fraternity and sorority members, who join IFC fraternities in the spring semester and the previous fall semester, on a Cornell Dining meal plan can reduce their plan. We offer an opportunity to reduce your Cornell Dining meal plan to a Cornell Dining debit meal plan, if you follow the guidelines below. New members can trade down their meal plan in the spring semester but not after the deadline February 7, 2019. PHC and MGFC don't have new members on their meal plan.

No meal plan cancellations are allowed.

Sorry, there are no exceptions to this deadline except in documented cases of medical or academic leave from the University.

Most new fraternity and sorority associate members are permitted to change to one of Cornell Dining's declining dollar debit meal plans. The smallest available is Just Bucks, which offers $500 in Big Red Bucks per semester at a cost of $500.

West Campus House System members cannot drop their House Meal Plan entirely. The smallest Cornell Dining meal plan available to students currently living in the West Campus House System who join a fraternity or sorority is the House Affiliate Plan. This plan includes three meals per week in the West Campus Dining Rooms and $100 in Big Red Bucks per semester at a cost of $550. Please contact to enroll in this plan.

Of course, you can add a meal plan at any time by visiting the Meal Plans page. 

To upgrade your meal plan after the February 7 deadline, please stop by the Campus Life Housing & Dining Contracts Office in 206 RPCC to fill out a meal plan change form, or email

You can reduce your meal plan before the February 7 deadline, by 11:59pm, on the Meal Plans page or you can stop by the Campus Life Housing & Dining Contracts Office in 206 Robert Purcell Community Center (RPCC). If you don't see the declining dollars debit meal plans as an option, please contact the Office of Sorority & Fraternity LIfe at or 607-255-2310 to confirm that your status has been updated.

To discuss your options or ask questions about your meal plan, you can stop by 206 RPCC, email, or call 607-255-8581. Please get in touch well ahead of the February 7 deadline.

Non-Resident House Charge (living out or parlor fee)

The budget process determines all the expenses associated with the operation of the facility and distributes them to the members as housing charges or rent. A good management principal is to pass a portion of the housing expenses on to all members, as opposed to just the members that live in. This principal, while not immediately intuitive, is rooted in the belief that a fair housing system receives support from all its members. Chapter houses have public and residential spaces. As a chapter house, the facility is the meeting place and hub for all the organization’s activities, and this benefits all members, regardless of whether they live in or not.

Billing a housing charge (some organizations refer to this as a parlor fee) to members that live out has a number of benefits:

  1. Appropriately distributes responsibility for the facility to all members
  2. Reduces the burden of the room rates paid by live-ins because their proportionate cost is reduced
  3. Improves prospects for house occupancy because the cost to live out is increased

This Fraternity/Sorority Residence Contract ("FSR Contract") is a legal agreement between the University and you, the student.