Students graduating in May have a final bill to pay before they can hear first lady Michelle Obama speak or walk across the stage to receive their diploma.
To graduate, students are required to pay a $100 fee to GW and may need to rent a $49.95 cap and gown. These fees can grow with graduation extras like a $15 for a photo in The Cherry Tree, an $89.95 for a diploma frame, a $45 ticket to the Monumental Celebration, and $108 for a graduation packet, potentially running students more than $400.
University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said the University works with individual students will work who feel they cannot afford the required $100 fee. The fee, Sherrard said in an e-mail, covers basic costs for the University.
“The Graduation Application fee goes towards covering the costs associated with Commencement week celebrations and ceremonies, including diplomas, diploma covers, mailing costs and hoods for doctoral degree recipients,” she said.
The $108 graduation packet is the cheapest option for those who opt to purchase announcements, thank you notes, envelopes and a souvenir tassel. Larger packets cost up to $305. Class rings start at $384.
Callie Meserole, editor in chief of the Cherry Tree, said the $15 portraits are an inexpensive way for seniors remember GW, especially because GW gives seniors a free yearbook.
“Since all seniors receive a complimentary yearbook, the photo is a quick and inexpensive way to make sure you are a part of the 2010 yearbook,” Meserole said.
Junior Kristen Van Nest, who is graduating early because she can’t afford to stay at GW, said the extra fees are not fair.
“We’ve already had to pay a huge amount to this school, and now just be allowed to walk out the door we have to pay another $100,” she said.
Student Association senator and former Executive Vice Presidential candidate Joshua Goldstein said he understands graduation costs need to be paid, but believes the University can find a better way to charge students.
“A lot of what gets us into trouble as a University is that we do things where the University ends up looking more like a business,” he said. “Applying a $100 graduation fee seems on the surface something egregious.”
Goldstein said another option would be to ad an extra $20 to 25 to yearly tuition “as a matriculation fee.”
He added, “It sends the wrong message when you tack on all these extra fees.”