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CostHelper > Recreation & Activities  > Graduation

Graduation Cost

How Much Does Graduation Cost?

low costCap & Gown: $20-$200+average costParty: $200-$2,000+high costTotal Costs: $300-$2,500+
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  Typical costs:
  • The total cost for a high school or college graduation can be $300-$2,500 or more, depending on what is included. Typical expenses are the cap and gown, graduation announcements, all costs associated with hosting a graduation party and the graduation fees charged by some schools. Optional costs include a class ring, high school yearbook and high school senior portraits.
  • Graduation announcements typically cost $20-$200. For example, Oakland Panhandle University[1] offers a $74 basic package with 25 personalized announcements, 25 note cards, 25 year date seals and 30 return address labels, or a $172 deluxe package that adds a certificate of appreciation and a deluxe diploma frame.
  • Many high schools and colleges contract with one company to provide matching caps and gowns to all students participating in a commencement ceremony. Students at these schools typically pay $20-$55 for a gown, cap and tassel, either as a rental fee (the cap and gown are returned immediately after the ceremony) or for a "souvenir" or "keepsake" gown and cap. Willsie Cap & Gown[2] offers preschool or kindergarten packages for $12 for a cap and gown, or elementary-, middle- or high-school packages for $15-$35 each. Jostens[3] , a company specializing in graduation products and accessories, offers high school graduation packages for $99-$199, including the cap, gown, tassel, graduation announcements with envelopes and seals, plus other items such as a key chain, class T-shirt and thank-you notes.
  • Those earning an advanced degree may choose to purchase the appropriate cap and gown for use as faculty members at future academic events. Expect to pay $50-$250 or more if earning a master's degree, depending on the quality of the materials and whether a cap, tassel and hood are included; and $100-$900 or more for a doctoral gown, depending on quality of materials and what is included.
  • A graduation party typically costs $200-$2,000, depending on the number of guests, food budget and location. One student planned her party[4] for 100 guests at a rented park pavilion with picnic fare, a graduation cake, and decorations from a party supply store for about $1,000.
  • Some colleges have a graduation fee of $25-$250 which must be paid by the student to process the paperwork so they can receive a diploma. For example, College of Charleston[5] in South Carolina has a $25 non-refundable graduation fee; Bowling Green State University[6] in Ohio charges a $35 graduation fee; and San Francisco State University[7] in California charges $100. These fees must be paid even if the student does not participate in the commencement ceremonies.
Related articles: College, Community College, Law School, Medical School

Additional costs:
  • Many high school graduates commemorate the event with a senior portrait photo shoot; costs start at about $100-$300 but can be thousands of dollars, depending on the length of the photo session, the number of poses and outfit changes, and the number and size of the prints (from wallet-size to large, framed portraits). For example, Bultman Studios[8] in Michigan the charges range from $150 for a basic one-pose package with one 8"x10" and four 5"x7" prints to $1,399 for up to five poses, a framed portrait and muliple prints including 240 wallet-size 16"x20" framed portrait, one 16"x24" framed five-image wall collage, two 11"x14" prints, six 8"x10", 12 5"x7" or 4"x5", and 240 wallet-size photos.
  • For high school graduates, the optional school yearbook can cost $30-$90 or more. Findlay High School[9] in Ohio charges $60-$70 for its 2012-13 yearbook, depending on how early in the year it was purchased, and Atascadero High School[10] in California charges $75 plus a $4.50 processing fee for its 2012-13 yearbook.
  • An optional class ring[11] can cost $300-$1,300, depending on the type of precious metals used, with gold being the most expensive. These rings are personalized with the student's initials, school colors, gemstones, and symbols representing his or her activities while in school (such as music or a sport).
  • Shop for used graduation caps and gowns on sites like eBay[12] , or ask to borrow the attire from a recent graduate.
Shopping for graduation:
  • The potential graduate should check with their school for exact graduation guidelines and requirements. There are often numerous deadlines that must be met.
  • provides a graduation party planner[13] and Quicken Loans offers tips for throwing a graduation party on a budget[14] .
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