One hundred dollars to file a graduation application is required, plus a $60 rental fee for the cap and gown.
“It’s kind of out of hand, and actually I think it’s ridiculous,” said SF State student Erin Cabral, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology.
This is the first time in over 10 years that the University has raised the graduation application fee from the original $40 price. According to the Office of Commencement, $20 of the $100 will go to the diploma and its cover and the rest will help to fund the ceremony.
“All services in general — cost for labor, printing, chair rental, etc. — have gone up since 10 years ago. It was necessary for the university to increase the fee,” said Norma Urcuyo-Siani, director of the Office of Special Events and Commencement. “We regret that it had to be done.”
But graduating students are still less than pleased.
“It costs more to get out of school than it takes to get in,” said Marsha Wescott, 21, a broadcast and electronic communication arts major.
Wescott is also paying an additional $150 for announcements, which brings her total graduation cost to about $300.
The $60 cap and gown rental fee is also leaving a bitter taste in students mouths. But at least they get to keep the cap and tassel.
“It just sucks because you’re never going to wear the cap again,” said communications major Sufyan Khan, 23. He also is paying $30 for wallet pictures. “But I just figure it’s $60 for a tassel and a cap and to be able to participate.”
But it is actually a lot more than that, according to Rob Stone, the CEO and general manager of Franciscan Shops and the SF State Bookstore.
“The short answer is that the price reflects all the combined costs of the cap and gown rental: labor, systems, space usage, marketing, freight costs, dry cleaning, distribution, etc.,” Stone said. “(The price is) Not simply the wholesale cost of the garment.”
The rental gown also costs more because it is made from reusable cloth instead of the cheaper disposable material.
Of the 8,000 students eligible to graduate, 4,000 will take part in the graduation ceremony May 21. A total of 21,000 people, including the graduating students, are expected to attend.
Sara Gagnon is one of the 4,000 not attending the ceremony. She works two jobs and feels her money would be better spent on a party she is throwing herself.
“I feel like I’ve already spent so much time and money on my education at SF State,” Gagnon said. “I don’t really want to take time off of work and rent a gown. For me, I would rather invest my time and money into a celebration that my friends, my family and I can really enjoy, and that will allow all of us, not just a few of us, to spend time together.”
For students who are attending, extra tickets for friends or family have become a hot commodity. Five tickets are given to each student when they get their cap and gown, and three more tickets can be requested on a first come, first serve basis.
“You will never pay for tickets from the University,” said Wendy Johnson, textbook department manager. “Having to pay for your graduation tickets is one of the biggest myths.”
But Cabral paid $150 for an extra 10 tickets for his family. Just one visit to Craigslist and a number of ads pop up for tickets with prices ranging from $10 to $25 a ticket.
“You don’t even want to quote me on what I think about students who sell their tickets for graduation,” Johnson said.
A graduation fee, cap and gown rental, maybe some pictures, announcements and maybe a few scalped tickets later, and the end result is a degree.
“Its expensive, but necessary, I guess,” said Jane Beery-Beesly, a graduating liberal arts major. “So I have to find the money to cover it all.”