Senior Year Sticker Shock: Buckle Up for These 6 Expenses

What one mom wishes she had known about senior year costs

By Harlisha Homer July 6, 2023

Senior year is a big deal, not just for your kid, but for you too! 

I did my homework and read up on everything I could find about what to expect during this monumental time. From scholarships to prom prep, I thought I had it figured out. But senior year threw me a curveball: There were more expenses than I anticipated. 

Based on my experience, here are six expenses you can expect for your child's senior year of high school. Start preparing now!

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1. Say 'cheese' to the picture-perfect pricetag

Ah, the coveted senior photo! It's a chance to capture that special moment of senior year. Before you book the photographer who did your niece's pics, make sure you know what you're getting. What's included in that session fee? Are digital images or prints included? Can you change outfits? Will you have to pay extra for prints? And, oh, is there a minimum order? Asking these questions ahead of time will save you from surprise fees later on.

 Pavel Danilyuk | Canva

2. Plan a graduation gala ... on your budget

Have a heart-to-heart with your senior about what kind of celebration they want. Are they dreaming of a formal bash or a chill backyard get-together? Then take a peek at your budget and see what's doable. Social media has a way of making us compare ourselves to others, so resist the temptation to compete with the neighbors. Plan early, stick to your plan, and don't worry about what others are doing!

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3. Test for success 

Each time your kid takes the ACTs or SATs, there's a fee involved. And if you want to give them a little extra boost with tutoring, well, you'll probably need to shell out some cash for a prep course. But remember, it's an investment in their future!

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4. Adding up those college visits

Get ready to set aside some funds for those college visits. If you're exploring nearby schools, it might just be a day off work and some gas money. But if your child has their sights set on faraway institutions, you'll need to factor in vacation time, flights, and hotel costs. 

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5. Application fees that test your finances

If your senior has the "apply to 10 schools and see what happens" mentality, be prepared for application fees. They usually hover around $50 per school. But hey, some schools waive these fees if your family meets income requirements. Check with your high school's college counselor to get all the details.

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6. Enough expenses to make your wallet weep

Many high schools these days offer a graduate package, which sounds great, but it's not the end of the spending spree. You'll encounter things like ticket fees for sports banquets, choir fundraisers, senior trips, and the infamous "I need a new dress for this or that" situations. The expenses can seem never-ending, so talk to your child about your budget and start that savings jar now.

Remember, senior year is a time to celebrate and make memories, so focus on that and enjoy the ride. You've got an amazing kid, and together you'll navigate these expenses like a pro. Cheers to their future!

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You'll be glad you did ... and so will your kids!

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