The University made significant steps toward removing the $100 graduation fee charged to graduating seniors, after student leaders spent the year lobbying for the fee’s removal.
Student Association President Jason Lifton said top administrators committed to move forward with a budget that doesn’t include the graduation fee starting for the Class of 2012, pending final approval of the University’s budget from the Board of Trustees.
Lifton said the SA spent the past year working to convince GW’s leadership that the fee, which has long been a target of student complaints, was a burden to students.
“With all the discussions we had with Board of Trustees members and administrators, this seemed to be a silly fee, it didn’t make sense,” Lifton said. “Once we built up credibility with all the different offices involved, we got everyone together to say that this fee is a bad idea, and how can we solve it.”
The fee, instituted in 1999 by the Board of Trustees, was imposed to cover the high cost of graduating on the Ellipse. Commencement ceremonies no longer take place at that location but spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said the fee covers “the costs associated with Commencement week celebrations and ceremonies, including diplomas, diploma covers, mailing costs and hoods for doctoral degree recipients.”
The policy switch still needs approval from GW’s highest governing body so details on how the University will cover the ceremonies’ costs are unknown. One possibility is working the fee into tuition so students pay the cost over 4 years instead of as a lump sum before graduation.
“We don’t have additional information for you at this time as eliminating the fee is part of our ongoing budget discussions,” University spokeswoman Candace Smith said. “We’ll have more information to provide after the Board considers next fiscal year’s budget in May.”
Junior Dianora Biagioni said she thinks eliminating the graduation fee will boost morale among her class.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “It will bring the class closer together because no one will have to worry about the fee. Especially for families where money is an issue or they have more than one child graduating, that will be really helpful.”
Lifton gave ultimate credit to Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz and Provost Steven Lerman.
“We are incredibly excited about this,” Lifton said. “It absolutely would not have happened if the different administrators that were involved did not all play into this… They were really the vital component in getting this to work.”