Seniors slammed with graduation fees

Kinesiology major Deanna Johnson has saved every cap and gown she has ever worn, but this year the high cost of graduation will leave her collection one short.

“It’s ridiculous, I wanted to buy my cap and gown, but it’s over $200 just for the gown,” Johnson said. “I have my cap and gown from preschool, high school and my junior college and wanted to add to my collection but I can’t afford it.”

Graduation fees quickly add up for seniors like Johnson, who said her greatest expense was the 18 tickets needed for her large family to attend her department graduation. At $15 per ticket, Johnson spent $270 on tickets alone.

“They only give you six tickets to the regular ceremony; that’s why everyone has to go to the department graduation and not the one at AT&T Park,” Johnson said. “I’m kinda bummed because I am a huge Giants fan and I wanted my family to be with me, they are huge Giants fans too.”

While some students save money by choosing to skip the ceremony, all graduates must pay a $100 application and filing fee in order to graduate, according to Jesse Chen, the administrative assistant at the Bursar’s Office. Application payments are made at the Bursar’s Office and students who miss the deadline will be charged an extra $5.

To obtain information on the graduation application, students must first complete an exit survey on the registrar’s website, according to Chen. The Bursar collects the application fee, while the actual application is submitted to the registrar.

Dietetics major Michelle Manalo has spent under $200 on graduation and said the $100 application was her biggest expense.

“It’s not bad, but I don’t like how if you make a mistake or have to reapply you have to pay the $100 application fee again,” Manalo said. “But overall I think (graduation) is affordable for most students. It’s doable.”

Students participating in the commencement ceremony are required to wear SF State-specific academic apparel, according to the SF State commencement webpage. The purple cap and gowns made by Indianapolis-based Herff Jones can be rented through the school bookstore. The bachelor’s set includes a cap, gown and tassel that can be rented for $45, while the master’s set for $70 also includes a hood. Students must return the gown and hood after graduation, but may keep the cap and tassel.

“I’m renting my gown, but I get to keep the cap and tassel,” Manalo said. “I really don’t mind because I don’t need a gown — it would just end up in my closet.”

Graduation packages were offered to students at the Graduation Fair held in April, according to Monica Ordozgoiti, a SF State bookstore employee. The packages include the cap and gown rental and a diploma frame discounted by 20 percent.

“The incentives are the discounted frame and that you get to bypass all the lines when you come pick up your order,” Ordozgoiti said. “There are multiple lines that can get pretty long and when people get out of class at the same time it gets packed in here.”

While tickets are free for the ceremony at AT&T Park, students must pay for tickets for families and friends to attend their department graduations. Tickets for each ceremony vary in cost depending upon the department. Josh Sadsad, 22, said he purchased six tickets for the Hospitality Graduation at $35 apiece, totaling over $200. He said he will end up spending a total of $400-500 on graduation overall.

“It’s kind of crazy that in the last year here, they are pulling more money out of you,” Sadsad said. “It’s your last year; you studied hard and worked hard. I guess I don’t mind; I just want to finish because I’ve been here for five years already.”

Sadsad said he has cut corners to save money on graduation.

“All the pictures I wanted I didn’t buy, I really just bought the tickets and paid for the essentials,” Sadsad said. “I didn’t go all out.”

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