The burden of graduation expenses

You have finished your last day of class, taken your last final, presented your capstone project and are moving out of your on-campus dorm. Graduation day is tomorrow, your family is in town and you are savoring your final moments of college.

Graduation is a time to celebrate your achievement of completing your undergraduate degree, making it through those late nights in the library and surviving off Starbucks. But, it may cost you a couple thousand dollars.
At California Lutheran University, students can spend thousands of dollars on graduation. This includes your fee to apply to graduate, your cap and gown and any stole or chord you may wear. Not to mention additional costs such as travel expenses for friends and family, graduation pictures and announcements and parties or dinners thrown to celebrate.

The price to graduate is far too high for student and their families and becomes a financial burden, taking away from the celebratory day.
Graduating senior Rachael Balcom said she feels that the fees for graduation are ridiculous and overpriced.

“I think paying a fee to graduate is absolutely ridiculous because I already gave so much money to this school. I’m going into debt to earn an education from this university, and then they’re going to make me pay to graduate? I should earn that just through passing my classes and paying tuition,” Balcom said.

Paying the fee to the university to apply to graduate is just the beginning of the countless expenses.
According to Cal Lutheran Academic Services, students pay a fee to apply to graduate that cost anywhere from $75-$100, depending on when you submit your application. There is a process through Academic Services that students can go through to apply for a scholarship that covers this expense, however this information is not publicized to students well.

Graduation cap and gown cost around $95, stoles for organizations, such as student athletes, cost $60 and the fee to be in major specific honor programs that give graduates a chord could cost close to $45.

“I think it’s a little absurd that in order to share on my graduation day that I was a four-year student athlete, I have to pay $60 to get a stole. I think that is crazy. I think I have given enough to Cal Lutheran that they could afford to pay $60 for the very few students who are senior athletes graduating,” Balcom said.
These three heavy expenses are just the beginning. There are also senior portraits, graduation announcements, family travels, dresses, ties and the graduation parties.

Looking at data collected from six Cal Lutheran graduating seniors, ranging from Communications to Criminal Justice to Exercise Science majors, they have spent anywhere from $600-$2,500. This includes all the mandatory expenses to the university, their graduation outfit, parent hotel rooms, award dinners and chords/stoles and a dinner or graduation party with friends and family.

This is money spent simply for their parents to watch them be honored for their years of hard work in university. One student’s family will be flying in from Hawaii to watch her graduate, spending nearly $2,000 on plane tickets alone.

Graduation prices must be lowered. The mandatory expenses for students, such as applying to graduate and caps and gowns, should be eliminated. Applying to graduate should be taken from money paid in tuition and the university should provide used caps and gowns to students each year for free.
After spending around $200,000, which is the full tuition price not including scholarships, over four years to attend Cal Lutheran, the least the university could do is allow students to walk in their ceremony for free.

Catherine Slabaugh