From yearbooks to aptitude tests, Inside Jersey itemized many of the [sometimes frivolous] costs facing parents as they try to get their kid out of high school and into college (though it would be significantly less expensive for everyone if the kid just went straight to work).
College Applications: $210 to $600
This number can vary wildly depending on the number of schools applied to, and whether those schools are public or private.
College Enrollment/Deposit Fees: $150 to $250
Okay, so your kid got into a school. Before you get into all the financial aid stuff, you’ll need to fork over some money to hold his/her spot.
Yearbook: $35 to $150
Even in the day of all-things-online, this sometimes-pricey printed tradition lives on.
Yearbook Ads: $5 to $200
Want to show your kid how much you appreciate them in that yearbook? Be prepared to fork over at least a few bucks. Or just buy a marker and write something nice inside.
Senior Pictures: $40 to $500
Has anyone actually looked good in their senior photo? Probably not, but that doesn’t stop parents and students from paying hundreds of dollars for prints they can send out to far-flung family members.
Test Prep Classes: $299 to $1,299
Life is competitive. Some parents think these classes help their kids do better on tests like the SAT and ACT, and will spend lots of money for them.
Testing Costs: $35 to $468
If that kid of yours is going to college, she’ll need to take at least the SAT or ACT, plus things like AP exams, SATsubject tests and other fun stuff that will be of no consequence once she’s sleeping through her morning classes at college.
School Ring: $180 to $500
Never quite understood this one, as most college freshmen do everything they can to eschew any traces of their high school selves. Regardless, some seniors really want some school-themed bling, and that’s going to cost you.
School Memorabilia: $10 to $300
The same goes for other things, ranging from tee shirts to letter jackets, that your kid will swear he must have but will abandon the second he gets to college.
Gifts for Favorite Teachers: $10 to $100
I never really liked any of my high school teachers, so this idea is completely alien to me, but I’m sure some people might want to say thanks to a teacher for a glowing recommendation or for not failing them.
Framing the Diploma: $10 to $300
Want to hang that diploma on a wall? It’ll need a frame, which can be gotten cheaply at any retail store or could cost you hundreds at a custom frame shop.
Senior Prom: $500 to $3,000
Dresses, tuxes, limos, flowers… it adds up. Then you have to throw in costs for food, (non-alcoholic) beverages, related parties… all while hoping your kid gets back alive and without having had a life-altering evening.
Senior Trips: $10 to $100
Some schools send their seniors to the local petting zoo. Others arrange jaunts to exotic ports of call.
College Visits: $15 to $1,500
If your kid wants to stay local for college, just give her a few bucks for gas to go check out the campus. But when your senior has dreams of studying in another time zone or climate, you’re looking at plane tickets, hotels, and lots of other associated costs, just to see a school she may not get into.
Graduation Costs: $30 to $350
At the very least, you’ll need to ante up for a cap and gown combo. Throw in things like fancy printed announcements and photos and the bill starts creeping upward.
Graduation Parties: $50 to $1,000
Time to celebrate, which can mean throwing a couple burgers on the grill with the family, or flying in Rihanna to serenade your graduate. I’d prefer the cookout.
Unexpected Fines: $2 to $500
Remember that library book you saw mangled on the floor of your kid’s car? Or that football helmet he kept to commemorate his team’s glorious .500 season? The school remembers them too, and will probably make you pay up before your kid can get his diploma.
Assuming you’re paying top dollar and going all-out for most of these senior year add-ons, you can easily pass the $10,000 mark. If your kid isn’t planning on going to college right away, that decreases the total significantly, though he/she may still want to take SAT/ACT tests just in case they choose to apply to schools within the year after graduating.
Many parents will look at this list and say, “If my kid wants that, he/she will have to pay for it themselves,” which is a good way to reduce their expenditures and to get the senior thinking twice about whether it’s truly vital to purchase a school ring or if that diploma needs a mahogany frame with museum-quality archival glass.