The cost of graduation: seniors face financial toll



Lincoln’s graduation gear can be donated to future classes after use.

Graduation: the end goal of high school and the beginning of a new life. A day to commemorate the past and envision the next step. Unlike what is shown in movies, graduation can be stressful in part because it can be surprisingly expensive. 

Graduation gear, also known as academic dress, includes a square academic cap, gown and tassel. 

According to the Jostens website, the cost of the Cardinal High School Graduation can range from $28.50 to $256. Seniors pre-order the gear months in advance. 

An examination of the Cardinal Package from Jostens, the company that sells students graduation packages, reveals it is formatted in a way that highlights the more expensive packages which include non essential items such as stationery and a hoodie. This most expensive option is labeled “most popular!” which may lead some students to feel more pressured to buy it. 

Students who are keen on buying a less expensive package must comb through the packet to find that information. Some students find even the lower cost options aren’t worth it. 

Senior Lenna Espinoza thinks the cost doesn’t match the product.

“There’s no reason that a cheaply made cap and gown should be 53+ dollars. Though I understand that there is a cost for production and distribution, it’s taxing on lower-income families,” says Espinoza.

According to Katie Leathers, VP Secretary (Graduation, Transcripts, Counseling), all students have the option to borrow a cap and gown from Lincoln. 

“If students are looking for a more sustainable option, we always encourage them to use their siblings or are welcome to borrow one from us,” Leather adds.

Walker believes that waivers aren’t the answer, they can be really “othering and discouraging.” 

Usually, fee waiver options are available when applying to a college and when you are submitting SAT scores to colleges. 

After graduation, Leathers asks students to donate their gowns so others can borrow in future years. Students bring in after or leave their gowns at graduation and they are sorted into sizes. “When a student requests to borrow one from me I ask their height so they will get one that fits.” says Leathers.