Commencement costs: How the price of graduation regalia affects graduating seniors


Simon Asher

University of Arizona Graduates pose before the 153rd Annual UA Commencement on May 12. The Arizona Board of Regents issued a report detailing how much more a college graduate stands to make during their career when compared to an average high school graduate.

Kiara Adams

Every semester at the University of Arizona, a class of students completes their four or more years of schooling and head to graduation.

Graduation is a pivotal moment in the lives of college students, encapsulating the end of their time at their university. Here at the UA, graduating seniors are met with costs to graduate that eventually add up.

To begin, seniors have to apply for graduation. There is a $50 application fee that comes with starting the process of graduating from the UA, after paying four years of tuition and other various costs.

Once graduates are past that application step, and successfully finish their senior year, then they must purchase graduation regalia.

The UA Bookstore website lists sections of all the different types of regalia including a Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctoral Degree, faculty regalia, stoles, diploma frames, announcements and alumni merch.

Regalia signifies a graduate’s accomplishments with their classes as well as campus involvements, but sometimes the price can get in the way of that.

“I did not buy anything more than the basics of my cap and gown, stole, and diploma frame; everything extra was just too much money to get,” graduating senior Brandon Fuentes said. “With this being such an important milestone in my life, I would have liked to buy more merchandise as tokens/memorabilia of this part of my life.”

Purchasing basic items like the ones Fuentes bought can run a student upwards of $200, with the cheapest diploma frame coming in at about $115. But depending on what a student is looking for, a diploma cover is only $20.

Matti Garry is the UA Bookstore manager in charge of purchasing all of the items that come with graduation. Garry views the purchase of graduation regalia as a necessary expense to make the experience extra special.

“When you start graduating you’re excited to get everything. The one thing I always tell people when they’re looking at diploma frames versus diploma covers is you got your high school diploma in a cover, do you know where it is? I know exactly where my college degree is because it’s in a beautiful frame hanging on my wall,” Garry said.

Being excited to graduate is definitely something that graduating seniors can relate to but that doesn’t change the fact that these costs eventually add up.

“It’s super expensive,” graduating senior Sofia Parra said. “Luckily, my family and I are fortunate enough to where my parents can afford everything, but if you want photos or announcements it just all adds up to being incredibly expensive to graduate.”

While the UA Bookstore does not put any graduation regalia on sale, Garry said that it still sells every year due to sheer demand. Garry also shared information about GradFest, which was hosted by the bookstore for the spring 2023 semester from March 21-23.

“It is a huge ordeal when everyone comes for three days and that is when we see our highest demand and we sell most of our regalia within those days,” Garry said.

Garry shared that March is the most popular time of year for graduation regalia purchases. It is the time when the bookstore sells most of its merchandise; the bookstore also bases its shipments on how each past graduation sales go.

“We start comparing sales from the previous graduation, so spring to spring and fall to fall,” Garry said. “We have to compare what was sold last year to what we think will sell this year. We match our numbers up and then we prepare for any sort of influx that we may see.”

Graduation is an exciting time for many, but the cost that comes with it can pose a challenge to some students. Sometimes the excitement can outweigh the costs for senior students, but between the frames, stoles, tassels and gowns, costs add up.

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