Senior Year Expenses Pile Up

By Helen Hu ’19 and Christina Wu ’19         

Senior dues, prom, advanced placement (AP) exams, SAT, and college applications are reasons why seniors can possibly be in debt. 

Spending adds up relatively quickly. On average, seniors spend around $1,000 on college applications, according to The application fees vary from $25 to $90, depending on the college. Private and high demand colleges have a higher application fee. If students plan to retake the SATs, it would cost about $40 to $50.

Midwood seniors spent $140 for senior dues and $210 for prom depending on when they handed in their money order. Although the fee for senior dues may seem high, yearbooks, cap and gowns, admission tickets for graduation, flowers, balloons, the rental of King’s Theater, etc. are all incorporated in the bundle.

“Make sure you pay for your applications on time or else you might not be able to get into the college you desire,” said Rosie Duplessy ’18. “You should also be sure to pay for senior dues and prom before the deadline or you will have to pay $15 extra and in the worst case scenario, not be able to go.”

Maya Engstrom ’18 said, “I spent approximately $2000 because it’s necessary to apply to a lot of schools. It’s hard when your parents aren’t so well off. Save up and tell your parents ahead of time so they can keep it in mind.”

Paying for these fees are a constant struggle for seniors who want to stay on budget. Juniors are now being encouraged to take advice from seniors who had already experienced this. They can start their preparations early so they won’t stress out once the fall approaches.         

“I just met with my guidance counselor and we talked about what classes I want next year,” said Zehaa Albraidi ’19. “I know that senior year is going to be stressful with all the college applications, essay and everything and my guidance counselor told me start as soon as possible, so I plan on working on that during summer along with saving up.”

Ms. Liz Bommarito, the senior advisor, suggests that juniors should take on a summer job. She recommends students to find a balance between enjoying their summer vacation and work so “it doesn’t take away from their beach days.” However, it is not mandatory to pay for students to pay their senior dues in order to receive their diploma.

“Seniors can graduate without paying their [senior] dues, but they won’t receive t-shirts and other gifts,” said Ms. Bommarito. “They should pay for a cap and gown.”

Despite the price of the many senior expenses, there are some ways that can be applied in reducing the cost. For example, signing up for fee waivers.

Betty Wu ’18 stated, “If your income is not that high, you can get it waived. By handing in your tax return to Mr. Harper, he’ll see if you qualify for fee waivers. SAT, ACT tests, and college applications can be waived as well. If you want more information, you can always go to Ms. Gluck or Ms. Director about colleges and for senior fees, go to Ms. Bommarito.”

Students can apply online or in person in order to obtain a fee waiver. To apply online, students need their 12-digit fee waiver code, the name of a high school counselor or another authorized person and the way they qualified for the waiver. Qualifying for the fee waiver helps students with free SATs, provides free college benefits and more, that could be found on However, the fee waiver does not alleviate the cost of changing the registration.

Furthermore, fee waivers that students can apply to are the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) fee waiver, the State University of New York System (SUNY) fee waiver, and the City University of New York (CUNY) fee waiver. The NACAC fee waiver can be used by students who plan to further their education after high school that do not have the financial resources to do so. The fee waiver has specific guidelines that students need to abide by in order to qualify for the benefits that the NACAC provides. The SUNY fee waiver helps students by waiving the $50 application fee. However, the SUNY fee waiver only waives the application fee for four colleges. Although, CUNYs do not readily accept fee waivers, students can still fill out the form, provided by their guidance counselor. In addition, AP tests could break the bank. Prices for AP exams vary but are roughly around $94-$140.

“Paying the fees was definitely a struggle. I actually had to come up with ways to pay my mom back for my AP exams,” said Chase Ware ’18.

Arif Akkok ’19 said,  “I plan to apply to more APs to reach my full potential. I want to have a lengthy and detailed look to make a wise and cultivated decision with my peers and associates regarding my future college.”

Expanding access to advanced placement classes allow more high school students to adapt to advanced work and familiarize themselves with skills that they’ll need in college. Colleges expect to see if students are up for a challenge by taking college level courses, while students strive to pay for the exams. Students typically sit down for the AP exam in that subject, which allows them to transfer their credits to the colleges they wish to attend. The prices for the exams depend on the subject and if that student qualifies for free lunch.

Maisha Mashtura ’19 said, “As a junior, it is not surprising that I look forward to my senior year. Being a high school student, it is unlikely for us to have jobs and earn money to help us with these expenses.”

        “It’s your senior year, make it count,” said Ms. Bommarito.

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