Planning for College Graduation Expenses

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of your college career and it’s time to walk across the stage. Before you do, here are some things you’ll have to pay for.

Application Fees

Depending on the school, you may have application fees for the commencement ceremony, which typically cost $25-50. This pays for a counselor to review your degree audit, approve or deny the diploma, and all communications necessary between you and the school.

Cap and Gown

You can’t walk the stage without the full uniform. Cap and gown packages can range from $25-250, depending on the degree level. Masters and Doctoral graduates will pay a lot more for the package than Bachelors or Associates. The tassel is usually included, but if it isn’t, it can be purchased at the university book store for a small fee.

Stoles and Cords

If you were active on campus, you’ll probably want to buy the appropriate stoles and cords for the various organizations and teams you were a part of. Although most are less than $30, they can really add up.


In today’s digital world, graduation photoshoots have become increasingly popular. Graduates typically dress up in their cap and gown and take celebratory photos around campus. Hiring a photographer doesn’t come at a cheap cost though – most start at $100 per photoshoot.


If you’re inviting friends and family to join the celebration, you’ll probably send out professional invitations. Most colleges and universities offer invitation and thank you note packages, but those can range from $70-250. Opting for a budget-friendly invite? Try designing your own on Simply to Impress or Shutterfly. Want something even cheaper? Make an e-vite!


If you’re hosting a graduation party, you’ll need food, drinks, and plastic eatery. Those costs can add up. To stay on budget, consider hosting a graduation potluck.


From a class ring to a diploma frame, miscellaneous fees can add a significant amount to your graduation tab – by the hundreds! Consider the high cost items in advance so you have enough time to plan for it in your budget.

Regardless of your graduation plans, take time to celebrate your accomplishment! Whether that means takeout and a movie, or a big bash, you deserve it. Congratulations, graduates!

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  1. Tyler Johnson

    That’s good to know that a stole or chord could cost up to $30. That’s actually cheaper than what I thought it would be. I’ll have to remember that before I graduate so that I can set aside some money for any of the ones that I want.