Every year, high schools welcome a new class of seniors. 3 years earlier, they entered as scared and intimidated freshmen. Now they’re confident and anxious 12th graders. Senior year is one of the most exciting and most expensive school years. As a parent, it’s important to know how much your child’s last high school year will cost you:

  • Senior portraits: Some schools can afford full color yearbooks, but most schools only offer special color sections. One of those sections is for senior photos. 12th graders are invited to take more formal photographs, usually in their best wardrobe and nice hair. You can pass these pictures out to family and friends and show how much your little one has grown up. While most school photos have affordable packages, you can expect to pay at least $100 for a basic package including one 8×10, 2 5×7, and 8 wallet photos. Glamour shots are expensive!
  • Class ring: The jewelry that shows school pride and accomplishment, the class ring is something a lot of seniors look forward to. You can include your birth stone set in silver, gold, white gold, or even platinum. You even have the option of including your name, graduating school year, and extra curricular activities. On the lower end of the spectrum, class rings can start around $150 but for the more¬†exquisite¬†designs, you can go up into the $1,000 range and up.
  • Formal dances: There’s homecoming for sure, and sometimes even winter formal. Depending on the venue and the dress code, this can actually be one of the less expensive costs during senior year. Dances on school campus usually run between $5 and $20 for tickets and ask for semi-formal wear instead of formal. Dances at other venues usually have ticket costs up to $50 and request more formal attire.
  • College entrance exams: If your kid is forgoing senioritis (or at least trying) they will be taking a few tests that will assist in their college application process. The SAT, ACT, and AP tests will cost you. Registering for the SAT costs $49. The ACT is either $34 or $49.50 depending on the version, with an additional $10 for each school you want to send the scores to after the four you’re provided for free. AP tests, the most expensive, are $87 each. These are steep costs, but depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for fee reductions.
  • College applications: Unfortunately, applying for colleges cost money, and there’s no guarantee that your child will be accepted. College counselors urge students to keep options open, applying for at least 3 different campuses. College application fees vary per school. If your child is looking into 4 year universities, expect to pay between $50 and $65 for each application.
  • Prom: The moment many seniors have been waiting for, prom can be a wonderful and expensive experience. Between the tickets (which can be up to $100), the formalwear, transportation, and maybe champagne parties, you can expect to spend a couple hundred dollars on the “night of their lives”. Many girls go all out, getting custom made dresses and everything. It’s sometimes seen as the mini wedding.
  • Yearbook: The yearbook is the recap of the last year as a high school student. Most memories are free, but the ones in a book can cost up to $70.
  • Senior picnic: The cheapest expense of senior year, your student can possibly pay for it out of their own pockets! $20 would be more than enough.
  • Graduation announcements: A senseless expense (in my personal opinion), graduation announcements are like the save-the-dates of your student’s culmination. You include the time, date, and location of the graduation and sometimes you can include those expensive senior photos. You can expect to pay between $1 and $3 per announcement.
  • Grad night: The last hoorah as a high school student, grad night can be a great experience for students, and gives them the opportunity to stay up all night too! Grad nights are sometimes held at amusement parks, and tickets can cost around $65.

Senior year may seem like the last year before going for broke as far as paying for schooling, but with expenses like these, you may have to set up a separate savings account for this year alone.


Briana Myricks is a 20 something freelance writer and blogger. Striving for financial independence as a newlywed, she blogs about young married life at 20 and Engaged.