From yearbooks to prom,
Senior year can bust your bank!
By: Alejandra Serna
After three years of toiling over endless homework and exams, everything comes down to senior year. Senior year is all about fun and great memories, but there is also that overlooked hole that gets burned into your wallet. During the school year, seniors have every opportunity to party. But making the most of it has a cost. Luckily, some expenses may have cheap loopholes. You just have to know where to look.
Let’s begin with the average start-of-the-year expenses. As a senior, you probably have a car, which usually requires a parking decal ($10) designed to control the already overcrowded student parking lot. The beginning of the year also means senior pictures ($10-60). After the first month of classes, the activities scene really starts to heat up. For the highly involved seniors, this means club fees ($10-15 each). Unfortunately, no discounts can be found there.
Because it’s their last year, seniors usually charge full-speed ahead with school spirit, which requires its share of purchases – game tickets ($5), pep-rallies ($1), pompoms ($2), face paint ($10), etc. Some seniors even customize outfits for these occasions, thus hiking up the totals.
You might consider joining your school’s Student Government Association, or SGA, to get some discounts in this area. For instance, football game and pep-rally tickets would be free if you joined the appropriate committee, which usually provides the “school spirit items” as well.
At the peak of the senior season comes the first major dance, Homecoming – the time where the cash really starts to fly. According to Your Prom Magazine, a girl’s total expenses can easily fall between $500-800, while the guy’s is somewhere between $400-600. The cost of your personal effects – outfit, accessories, etc. – is really up to you.
Yet, there are other expenses that you can cut down. For transportation you can either share the limo with a group of friends or use a more cost-effective vehicle, like a cab. Being an SGA member can, once again, prove profitable. Members usually get discounts in tickets ($70-90) and pictures ($20-120), both major cash burners.
In the middle of the year, senior activities slow down significantly. Nonetheless, seniors still find things to do. Whether these are movies, clubs or whatever, money is always an issue.
“Going out is like $20 a pop, at least,” said Natasha Steinel, class of 2002 graduate. In this case, you should always be on the look out for “student specials.” You can get free movie tickets, even passes to free screeners by attending Blood Drives and other community events. Theaters also offer student discounts and frequent moviegoer cards, which allow you to rack up points to earn free food or even free movie tickets.
Once Spring arrives, Senior activities are on the rise once more. The standardized FCAT results in senior fieldtrips ($10 each), which are expensive ways to keep seniors occupied while the rest of the school takes the test. Unless staying in school or skipping is your thing, it will cost you money. Keep a look out for fundraising opportunities, which help seniors reduce their expenses.
Then there’s the notorious GradNite. Not only does the ticket cost around $80 (with prices increasing yearly), but there are also souvenir costs ($40-50) and food expenses ($25-30). Whether it is for Mickey-ear Graduation Caps or glow-in-the-dark sticks, everyone is a sucker for something.
Finally, the ultimate bank-breaker arrives: Prom. According to Your Prom Magazine, the average student spends an estimate of $638, or $1200 per couple, creating an estimated $2.7 billion in revenue. When broken down, costs include the limo, tickets, and outfits (with shoes and accessories). One must keep in mind that the ladies’ jewelry, hair and makeup drive up the estimate. Moreover, there’s the “Prom aftermath” to calculate. Since no respectable senior goes home afterwards, the tab rises by a couple of hundred dollars – club fees, parking, drinks and even hotel rooms.
Ironically, the biggest money-saver for prom is “the group thing.” Traveling around in a group allows you to split your transportation costs, tabs, etc. into smaller pieces. In addition, the SGA has the same markdowns, offered during Homecoming for Prom granted that you have been an active participant all year round.
Graduation seals the year, along with cap and gown rental costs ($20), pictures ($20-60), new outfits and end of the year parties ($$$). Again, the big-spending loopholes for this category are on a case-by-case basis. A part-time job during or before senior year is proven to save students the heartache and frustration of coming up short on cash.
Wedens Raymond, class of 2003 graduate, carried both a full-time summer job and a part-tine job during the school year to cover his costs.
“It was a challenge, but it was worth it,” said Raymond. “The costs might have been extravagant, but that’s the point to make the most of your last year. Go out with a bang!”