Graduating students plan for the big day with big budgets

Graduating sociology major Brandi Simmons advised students to start planning ahead for the various costs of graduation.  
Photo Submitted by Brandi Simmons.

As Florida A&M University students continue preparing for the long awaited graduation ceremonies, financial stress and the stress that comes with ensuring their dreams become reality has come to the forefront. And graduation requirements have become less of a concern for those who plan to pull out all the graduation stops, with perfection in mind.

Luxury graduation expenses include graduation photos, invitations, fancy attire, etc. Graduating seniors must buy a cap and gown, stoles and clear unpaid balances on their account before graduating. Cap and gowns can be purchased in the book store, with the correct authorization from the registrar's office.

Breyon Glenn, assistant university registrar, explained what’s required of students to get the authorization and efforts the staff makes to ensure graduates succeed.

“Students are supposed to submit graduation applications by the deadline, but we do accept the late applications,” Glenn said. “We try the best we can to get the late applicants for graduation on the program, and we are very successful in doing so.”

Graduates are required to wear the cap and gown, costing more than $130, along with the tassel and hood, at graduation. And the cost of the cap and gown increases as the degree advances. The standard graduation stole is about $30.

Invitations to graduation are sent by students, not the university, and can cost up to $300. The cost of invitations depends the amount needed. It’s advised not to wait until the last minute to submit orders for any graduation materials.

For some students, the financial demands of graduation hinders the excitement of the experience. Brandi Simmons, a graduation sociology major, explained how she prepared for graduation.

“I have such a big family that I spent a lot of money on the amount of invitations that are needed,” Simmons said. “Everyone that didn’t get an invitation in the mail, had received a picture invitation instead.”

Simmons suggested that graduates prepare ahead of time by putting money aside for invitations.

As far as the graduation ceremony, visitors are advised to arrive early due to first come, first serve seating. The ceremony is free for friends and family however.

Stephanie Rivera, graduating pre-med chemistry major, revealed that she’s spent about $500 on graduation, not the including the festivities she has planned. She noted most of the money went toward clothes and makeup for her graduation photos.

“I spent most of my money on graduation photos and that’s not even including the festivities that I have planned for that weekend,” Rivera said. “I really think that you should start early, and don’t wait until last minute to get what you want.”

She also encouraged graduates to ask for help and to prepare early.

Graduating with a college degree is a major milestone for students and many want their special day to be worth remembering. But it’s not cheap to walk across that stage.