Yes, there is a $25 per year membership fee, but it doesn't seem like you have to pay the fee to join the group on the runs they do. From the website, it looks like membership gives you the discounts at running stores, the newsletters, training program help, and consideration in their own club race circuit. But from my understanding, you don't have to pay the fee to join the runs or go to social hours. I've been invited to both and am not a member.
And yeah, I understand that "money is tight" feeling. That's another reason I haven't ponied up to join yet.