What To Expect For Graduation Expenses
What To Expect For Graduation Expenses

What To Expect For Graduation Expenses

What To Expect For Graduation Expenses

Graduation is ahead and it’s a significant milestone for your child, but it comes with a cost that could be a significant financial burden. It helps to have a guideline of what expenses to expect surrounding graduation, so you and your teen can decide how to prepare and budget for the upcoming costs.


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Graduation Photographs

Let’s start with Senior pictures. These are taken in the summer before your student becomes a senior. The school contracts with a local photographer that will provide them with all the senior pictures for the yearbook. You may choose to use these if you so desire. The benefit is that they are convenient as you must take your student in for yearbook pictures anyways and they are professionals who usually do a very nice job. If you can afford it, you will probably be looking at $250 upwards for photos through the school’s provided studio.

An alternative is to post on Facebook to see if any photography students need practice or local photographers that work out of their homes or on location will run specials often as low as $50  an onsite session. Make sure with this you are purchasing the rights to the photos in which they will hand you a digital copy of your photos when they are done editing them. With these, you will have to convince your student to dress up again and go out for more photos. After you will need to upload your photos to photo-developing places such as Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, or your local photo department.


I have had three children graduate and have never spent more than $80 on photos and invites combined compared to the $250 in the studio plus additional costs for graduation invites.


Besides the usual high school yearbook photos, there will be a professional photographer on site to take graduation photographs too. There may be some proof photos that are free, but there will be additional expenses in purchasing the full set. I believe in situations like this to have natural photos. I enjoy taking them with my phone and asking friends or other family members to take some that I would like to be in.


Be prepared, there may be many people in the family who want copies of the grad photos, including your children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and also friends. There may also be a video record of the ceremony that you can purchase from the official photographer.


Hint: Nowadays our phone cameras can take high-quality photos. To save by not hiring a photographer just take your child to a destination and have fun shooting some pictures to use for their graduation invitations. This invite I did with my phone and uploaded it to Sam’s Club to order our invites. I don’t think it turned out too bad.

Graduation Announcement I did at Sam’s Club for $17 for 50 invites


Graduation Day Expenses Must Have

Cap and Gown:

  • Your son or daughter will need to pay the rental fee for the graduation cap and gown. This fee covers cleaning costs so you won’t have to worry about that. There may be fees if they choose to keep the cap.
  • In some schools, there is no rental and only an option to buy.
  • Venue Fee: $25 Apparently they passed the buck onto the families to pay to rent a facility for graduation.

It was going to be $95 for the cap, gown, and tassel. I decided to ask around to seniors from prior years to borrow a cap and gown. I found a gown to borrow so I was going to order the cap and tassel which was going to be $85. Then I found a cap to borrow and the tassel was going to be $75.

I was horrified that no matter what I did I was going to be looking at over $100. I finally ordered the tassel from another company for $14. It may not be an exact match but who is really going to pay attention? If someone says something then they have way too much time on their hands. 🙂


We are super simple and I just can’t justify the expense so we do not do these but you may like to get your student

  • Year Book- Ours was $95 
  • Class ring, shirt, or other odds and ends
  • Boutonnieres and floral bouquets (If I were to do this I would just order from our local grocer or Costo’s)
  • After the ceremony, the entire family may wish to head out for a special dinner or celebration.
  • Graduation gifts to take to graduation
  • Graduation Signs
  • Graduation Party

Grad Trips and Travel

After graduation, your son or daughter may choose to go on their first trip alone, or with friends (no parents allowed). Whether they’ve earned the cash for a big trip from their weekend job, or the parents have provided funds as a graduation gift, travel is more expensive than you think. Not only must you consider airfare, but hotel costs, meals, admission fees to events and attractions, and also medical insurance.

Decide whether you will do something as a family, or if your student is going with friends will you be helping pay? Set up a budget to help you plan for your child’s graduation expenses. It’s going to be an expensive month ahead, but it will be worth it to have the memories for a lifetime.

Our total cost for graduation

  • Senior Pictures: I hired a photographer $50
  • Uploaded photos and ordered invites through Sams Club $17 for 50
  • Year Book: $85 plus they wanted $6.99 for a yearbook protection plan. What the heck is that? I did not even research what that was. I refuse to get it. I ordered a yearbook for $85. All I can say is I better get one at that cost, whether I buy protection for it or not. 🙂
  • Tassel: I found for $16.21
  • Dinner the night of graduation: Family of 4 at Chic-Fil-A (we got off lucky he likes cheap) $27
  • Graduation Party: $75 we went to a neighbor’s swimming pool and had hotdogs, chips, sodas, fruit tray, vegie tray, brownies, and ice cream

In Conclusion,

Graduation is a momentous occasion that should be celebrated, but it can also be a costly one. By simply being aware of the various expenses associated with graduation and with proper planning and budgeting, families can celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event, without breaking the bank.


What expenses have you found for graduation? I would love to hear what other tips you may have for saving on expenses for graduation!

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