California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Students Need Grad Fee Info Earlier

Graduation. It’s something each and every one of us as students are working towards. It’s what we pay thousands of dollars in tuition for. It’s the final hoorah of our college career and a time to celebrate all of our hard work throughout the years.

But on top of the numerous expenses, including tuition and housing, we pay just to attend California Lutheran University, there are more fees just to walk across the stage and get your diploma. Get your credit cards ready – the time to pay is now.

This year, between the traditional undergraduate and professional graduate programs, there are 927 students total, including 774 undergrad seniors planning to graduate with the class of 2019. These numbers make this one of Cal Lutheran’s largest graduating classes.

In addition to graduation expenses like announcements, pictures and travel, there is a mandatory application fee each student must pay in order to participate in graduation. For students like Cal Lutheran senior Danielle Etcheverry, the senior meeting on Sep. 4 was the first time they had even heard of a fee at all.

“I actually just found out about the fee yesterday,” Etcheverry said. “I wasn’t able to attend the senior meeting, but the powerpoint from the meeting was emailed and that was the first I had heard anything about it.”

The priority fee for this year’s application was $75 up until Aug. 29, when it increased to $100, a $25 increase from previous years. However, if you apply after Oct. 1, the fee goes up again to $125.

Maria Kohnke, associate provost of Academic Services and Registrar, said additions to the commencement and the diploma were what caused the graduation fee to increase in price this year.

“The graduation fee covers a number of different things, including the transcript, the diploma (which every graduate gets two versions of: one physical and one digital), and it also covers a number of different things regarding commencement, including the jumbotron,” Kohnke said.

Despite what the fee is used for, students like Etcheverry are not too happy about having to pay it on the heels of other expenses they were hit with as the school year began.

“I understand Cal Lu needs to cover their expenses, but the fee seems high for what they say it’s for. I kind of feel like all of my college career I’ve been nickel and dimed to death by fees,” Etcheverry said.

Some students are lucky enough to have financial support from their parents and do not have to worry about the application fee. For students who are responsible for all their own college costs, the fee is another expense that they have to pay with only one month notice.

Brooke Oyler is a senior who works three different jobs, putting in about 20 hours a week. She said she covers her own cost of attendance and disagrees with the fee.

“The whole reason I came to Cal Lutheran is not only because it’s a really nice school, but more importantly I got a really big scholarship, making it a lot more affordable,” Oyler said. “However, I wasn’t aware my scholarship didn’t include this year, so I’m already taking out more loans just to attend this year. I think Cal Lu should definitely do a better job and give us more of a heads up that we are going to have to pay a $100 fee to graduate.”

There is an option to apply for a scholarship that covers the application expense; however, this information is not heavily publicized and students may not be aware that it’s even an option.

“I do wish I had known about the fee a bit sooner. Maybe an email during the summer? The fee isn’t a big deal for me personally, but for a lot of students that’s a bigger chunk of money,” Etcheverry said.

Oyler says giving students an earlier notice would be sufficient.

“I think the school should send out an email by the end of our junior year that we are going to need to take certain steps to participate in graduation and give us the proper amount of time to save money to pay the fee,” Oyler said.

If deducting or eliminating the fee is not a possibility, the least the university can do is give students a little bit of notice that they must pay a fee in order to participate in graduation.  

Karley Cable

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