Your Child’s Senior High School Years: The Expenses And The Budgeting

high school students

Many parents think college is the peak of school expenses. However, the last year of high school can also be a handful when it comes to expenses. From SAT tests to prom and graduation, parents have a lot to look forward to in terms of senior high school expenses.

But the expenses that come with their senior year shouldn’t keep you or your child from celebrating their final year in high school. By preparing ahead of time, budgeting and saving for senior high school can be a celebratory walk in the park.

From senior high school application requirements online to potential prom expenses, we list down potential senior year expenses and how you can save up for them.

The Common High School Senior Year Activities and Potential Costs

The prices suggested on this list are merely suggestions on how you can budget. Costs will still vary depending on your location, the school’s offers, your child’s preferences, their goals after high school and your budget.

College Admittance Needs

While many students will take the ACT or SAT and start their college applications in their junior year, your high school senior may need more time to gather all of their requirements for college, which includes test applications and test scores. If that is your child, expect to spend the following:

  • College application fees. $35 to 450. The most expensive fees can range from $80 to $90 (e.g. Columbia University, Duke University and Stanford University).
  • SAT registration fee. $55
  • ACT registration fee. The full ACT (no writing) costs $60 while the full ACT with writing can cost $85. If you want to change your test options, you’ll need to pay $25.

Other testing fees may include date change, late registration and score report fees. Ivy League schools may come with pricier testing fees.

To save more on college application fees, look at each school’s requirements. Some colleges and universities only need an ACT or SAT score, not both. Other schools have dropped the test school requirements. If that is the case for your child’s chosen school, they don’t have to take these tests.

If you are struggling financially, consider getting application or testing fees waived, which schools consider, especially if they are aware of your situation.

Senior Photos

Senior photos capture your child’s final year in high school, which serve as good memories of their academic milestones. They’re also nice for students to pass out to family and friends. Generally, senior photos include a composite shot for the yearbook, which features special photos of the graduating students.

The fees include:

  • Photo session fees. $100 to $300.
  • Printed portrait package. $25 to $300.

The photo session fee will depend on several factors, which include the location, the photographer’s experience, length of the session and number of wardrobe changes. On the other hand, the photo’s prices will also depend on whether you choose a la carte package or the full package.

To save on senior photos, have a family friend, student photographer or newbie professional photographer building their portfolio to take your child’s photos. You can also reduce the price by limiting the wardrobe options to two and staying in one location.

high school prom

Senior Prom

One of the biggest nights for graduating students is their prom night. It’s a chance for everyone to get dolled up and to celebrate their hard work.

Fees include:

  • Prom tickets. $20 to $250. The higher-priced tickets include a dinner and/or a more expensive venue.
  • Prom dress, shoes and accessories. $500.
  • Tuxedo rental. $150
  • Hair and makeup. $125
  • Corsage/boutonniere. $10 to $140.

To save on the senior prom, buy your child’s gown during the off-season (if they are wearing a prom dress). January is the best time to buy a dress since New Year’s gowns are on sale. This also reduces the risk of your child wearing the same dress as someone else at the prom.

When it comes to saving money on beauty services, you can’t go wrong with DIY. For the flowers, fresh blossoms with complex designs are pricier. Go for fresh flowers like daisies and carnations that you can design.

Graduation Ceremony

This is the moment your child has been waiting for! They are finally getting their high school degree. This event is one that you should not miss since it’s the culmination of their years of hard work. But before you celebrate, here are the fees to keep in mind:

  • Graduation outfit. $50
  • Graduation cap, tassel and gown. $30 to $50.

To save money on the ceremony, have your kids wear a special dress that’s already in their closet. The cap and gown are set in stone; you must buy them. The clothes they wear under can be something from their wardrobe.

Your child’s final year in high school is one to be celebrated. But it doesn’t have to hurt your wallet. A little budgeting goes a long way for your senior high school student’s year!

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