Senior Expenses Create Obstacles for Graduates

By Victor Shahov ’17 and Alison Wang ’17

Most seniors spend their remaining year dreaming about their prom, graduation ceremony and rise to college with excitement and anticipation, but the expenses for those events are a nightmare.

“Senior year will literally make your wallet cry,” said Fleurenz Villar ’16.

Expenses include senior dues, prom, college applications and Advanced Placement (AP) exams. With graduation day approaching, seniors will have expended a lot.

Senior dues is a package that includes the cost of the yearbook, diploma case, senior T-shirts, and cap and gown. Senior dues are $135 that must be paid no later than April 1. However, late fees will cost students $15 extra, resulting in a fee of $150 and no yearbook guaranteed.

According to Kathy Maguire, secretary, senior dues are not needed to graduate, but the ceremony can be meaningful. If one does not pay the senior dues, they will not be able to participate in the graduation ceremony.

“College application fees made me limit my list of how many schools I should apply to,” said Michelle Do ’16.

To apply to college and pursue a degree, paying a fee is necessary. Each school has different application fees. According to, the City University of New York (CUNY) required a fee of $65, but has increased to $70, allowing applications to up to six CUNYs. However, each State University of New York costs $50 and private schools can cost $75 or more.

College application fees can be waived for those who receive fee waivers or a waived application from the school.

“CUNY application fee waivers are distributed to us,” said Hilliard Harper. “Once qualified, you are able to get a CUNY fee waiver to pay for the application. One fee waiver covers six CUNY schools.”

In addition to applying for college, students have to pay to send test scores. Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores cost $11.25 per school if sent through the regular shipping time option. American College Test (ACT) scores cost $12 or $16.50 per score report.

“Not only do I have to pay for exams that I never wanted to take in the first place like the SAT,” said Irla Belli ’16, “but I also have to pay to send in scores to each and every school I apply to and that’s just one of many exams.”

According to, any student who takes the SAT  has up to four free score report waivers which they can use up to nine days after the test date. An additional four free score reports are given to students eligible for fee waivers.

Prom is an optional event senior dues do not cover. Tickets are $175 and the late price is $190.

According to Villar, extra costs, such as buying the dress, renting a limo, and doing the makeup can add onto the pile of money you’re already paying

Seniors, along with every other grade that is taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams, are mandated to pay $92. However, if one is eligible for fee waivers, this wouldn’t be a problem.

“$92 for how ever many credits you receive for that class?” said Mark Renteria ’16. “That’s a bargain. Classes are worth hundreds of dollars in college.”

AP classes are a way to save money in college, but not all schools accept all APs offered by the college board.

According to, classes such as Biology, Macroeconomics, Physics 1, and Physics 2 are not equivalent to any course. Thus, students will only receive elective credits despite receiving grades of 3 or higher.

“I find this ironic,” said Jocelyn Chen ’16. “If I’m only getting elective credits, I would rather take elective classes in college which allow me to explore different aspects of subjects.”

To pay for college tuition and other fees, an application for financial aid can be submitted.

Belli said, “I find it rather backwards that we have to pay to submit financial aid because if I’m trying to get financial aid, why would I want to pay for the submission of my desire to receive it?”

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA),, provides two forms of aid: a Stafford Loan up to $5,500 and a Pell Grant up to $5,815. Another opportunity is the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) is a grant, up to $5,168, that helps eligible NY residents going to NY schools pay tuition. Seniors can apply to this through FAFSA as well. The amount is dependent on the income of each family and assets or savings.

“It’s very easy to just spend your money frivolously in college,” said Jessie Wong ’15.  “Senior expenses taught me how to use my money more wisely.”

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