If you have a teenager graduating from high school in the next few years, be prepared for some sticker shock. A student’s senior year has become more expensive than ever with costs double or triple from where they were 10 years ago. Our youngest child will be graduating soon and so far we’ve spent nearly $2,200 in senior year expenses….and it’s not over yet.
If your family has a teenager, now’s the time to start socking away money for the many expenses you’ll encounter once they reach their senior year of high school. Here are some of the expenses (and prices) that caught our family by surprise.
SAT and ACT testing
If your student is college bound, they should start taking SATs or ACTs in their junior year with a final one in the summer or fall before graduation. SATs start at $51 and ACTs at $35 with costs going up from there depending on the type of test taken, how many test scores ordered and so on. We spent nearly $90 on our teen’s ACT last fall plus an additional $48 for extra reports.
While advance placement classes are free, the cost of testing can add up in a hurry. You can expect to pay around $87 for each test. For a high school senior taking several AP classes, it’s easy to spend a few hundred dollars on AP tests at the end of each semester.
Concurrent enrollment classes
Unlike AP classes, concurrent enrollment means that your teenager gets immediate college credit at the end of the semester provided she gets a passing grade. Concurrent enrollment classes cost between $195-$255 depending on the subject taught.
A formal senior portrait package starts at $250 and goes up from there depending on the prints ordered. A low cost yearbook photo option for families on a budget is a “drape” offered free of charge by the same people who take class photographs at your teenager’s high school. Prints are available for purchase with the basic package starting at $8.
My teenager’s high school charges $55 for a cap, tassel, and the gown rental. Unfortunately there are no cheaper options here.
Since my husband and I are both graphic designers, we plan on making our own graduation announcement to save costs here. A typical announcement package purchased through the high school starts at $1 per card, with a basic ‘senior announcement package’ running around $139.
A must have for graduating seniors, our high school charges $60 for early bird purchases and $80 for the procrastinators. Appreciation ads for your teenager run between $45 (for a quarter page) to $90 (for a half page).
Another senior activity that can catch you a bit off guard is the senior prom which will cost anywhere from $50 and up for a ticket and dinner. For guys, expect to pay least $100 for a tux rental and at least twice that much for a dress for the gals. There’s also the cost of shoes, plus corsages or boutonnieres, other accessories and of course the pictures.
College application fees
The senior year of high school is also when your teenager will start applying for admission to college. Application fees range from $35 – $75 which is why it’s wise to quickly narrow down the field of prospective colleges to just a handful instead of sending out 10 or 20 applications.
Senior service project
Most high schools now require a community service project which, at the very least, comes with transportation costs. Our teen volunteered locally though we know of a large group of seniors who went to South America for their project at a cost of about $1,800 per student.
Club and athletic fees
Wrapping up expenses you can expect to pay your teenager’s senior year are the usual costs that come with belonging to a club or playing sports. My teen didn’t play LaCrosse this year (which saved us $350) but does belong to several clubs that cost between $10-$20 each for her to join.
A teen’s senior year of high school is a wonderful and exciting time for them but does come with a lot of expenses. Knowing what costs to expect well in advance of their senior year will give your family plenty of time to explore low cost options and save up for the expenses that can’t be waived.
More by this contributor:
How does concurrent enrollment work?
What to budget for college application fees, testing and more?
Cheap portrait options for graduating seniors