College fraternities will make you dumber — and richer Published: Sept 23, 2017 8:12 a.m. ET There are some things that good grades just can’t buy Getty Images/iStockphoto Fraternity membership lowers grades by 0.18 to 0.42 points, but raises lifetime income by 36%, a new study finds. By QuentinFottrell Personal Finance Editor Don’t underestimate the value of social connections in a frat house. Being a member of a fraternity in college lowers a student GPA by approximately 0.25 points on the traditional four-point scale, but raises future income by around 36%, according to a paper, “Social Animal House: The Economic and Academic Consequences of Fraternity Membership,” published by two economists from Union College in Schenectady, New York. “For this reason, joining a fraternity may be a rational decision that improves the long-term prospects of an individual student despite its damaging effects on a student’s grades,” the paper concluded. “These results suggest that fraternity membership causally produces large gains in social capital, which more than outweigh its negative effects on human capital for potential members,” they concluded. “These findings suggest that college administrators face significant trade-offs when crafting policies related to Greek life on campus.” They surveyed 3,762 alumni from a liberal Northeastern college who work full-time and also adjusted for the statistical impact of age, gender and ethnicity on a person’s income. Despite the partying and troubling headlines that fraternity life involving hazing and sexual assault in recent years, supporters of fraternities say there’s another side to Greek life. Among them, they provide academic support for students and social connections that can last a lifetime. Studies at the American University in Washington, D.C. and other colleges have found that Greek life results in higher GPAs. Fraternity alumni programs, LinkedIn groups, online communities all help foster strong social ties that are designed to last a lifetime across different generations of members of the same fraternity. Alcohol-related behavior did not explain much of the effects of fraternity membership, the latest study found. Fraternity membership lowers grades by 0.18 to 0.42 points. Controlling for alcohol-related behavior reduces this estimate only slightly — by about 0.03 to 0.05 points. “This suggests that, despite its visibility, alcohol consumption plays a relatively minor role,” the paper concluded. Because the data was collected from workers from ages 25 to 65, it incorporates the effect of Greek membership on lifetime earnings -- not just on earnings in the first job after college. However, heavy drinking just six times a month reduces the probability that a new college graduate will land a job by 10%, according to researchers at Tel Aviv University and Cornell University published in the peer-reviewed academic journal “Journal of Applied Psychology.” Alcohol is a depressant that impacts motor functions and brain activity. The authors suggest that each individual episode of student binge-drinking during a month-long period lowers the odds of attaining full-time employment upon graduation by 1.4%.