Senior Year Budget for High Schoolers

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Senior Year Budget

We are two months into my first child’s senior year and I am suffering from a case of sticker shock. I clearly didn’t budget well for his senior year budget. Oh man! Colleges charge what to apply? Do I need to spend the money for him to take the SAT and the ACT tests? Do I plan on getting him a class ring?

I would recommend toward the end of their junior year to start researching and begin planning for the senior year budget.

After some research here are some guidelines to the costs that you may incur. These are averages or a low base line to get you thinking on an overall budget.

Senior Year Budget:

  • College Applications…..$50 and up for each
  • SAT/ACT Testing………$50 each time
  • Cap and Gown………….$30
  • Tassel ……………………$10
  • Diploma …………………$30
  • Class Ring ………………$150 and up
  • Graduation Photos ……$50 and up
  • Announcements…etc. …$25 and up
  • Graduation Party ……….???
  • College Visits …………….???

Tips to help you get started with senior year budget:

• If your child already knows which colleges they are looking at, a quick visit to their website will inform you on the price of sending in an application.
• Decide on SAT/ACT testing. Each test has it pros and cons. If you know which college your child is interested look at their website to see which test the college prefers.
• We found visiting colleges really helped my son to understand what a large college campus felt like and a small one. He visited 4 different ones, included the one he applied to. These visits were free, just had to budget gas and snacks. We did buy a T-shirt from the one he wants to attend.
• Discuss with your child on if they want a class ring or a party. These choices will help in your budget planning.

Some ways we cut back on costs for the senior year budget:

• Since he has no interest in a class ring, we aren’t ordering one. Savings of $150.
• Since colleges offer early options, we have applied to his first college choice with enough time to apply to the second college if he gets a rejection letter. Savings of $75 if he gets accepted.
• We borrowed a cap and gown in the fall and had his senior pictures done. We choose not to do the senior setting in the spring where they change their clothes and you pick proofs that you want. Savings of $150.
• We took the SAT once in the spring of his junior year, and again in the fall of his senior year. He improved his score the second time, so we won’t be taking the test again. If you take the SAT in October, it gives you time to sign up to take it again in December if you still need to get a higher score.

I am currently researching announcements and thank-you cards. Hopefully allowing me time to find a great deal.

If we have any money left over in the spring he may have a party, or we may need to use the funds to help him move out. I am still thinking about the amount of money to put in the graduation party budget.

These two websites helped in figure out some of the costs: HomeSchool Diploma and Jostens.

Here is my worksheet to help you get started on your senior year budget.

Senior Budget Worksheet


Any surplus in the “Senior High” budget can be rolled over into the “Moving to College” budget.


This post may contain AFFILIATE LINKS. Clicking through these links help to support the costs involved in running this blog and sometimes can help with other expenses. You can find my full disclosure under the DISCLOSURE TAB. Thanks!


  1. Gina says:

    Thank you! I shared this on our state homeschooling facebook page!

    • Stacey says:

      I hope it helps parents get a better plan on what may need to happen, or $ that they will need to spend. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Virginia says:

    i would definitely check out for annoucements & thank you’s, they always have great, cheap deals! Good luck this year, thanks for the post 🙂

  3. Beth says:

    You have left out a few things that come to my mind…but I had girls not boys so some of it might not apply:
    1. That special white dress to wear for graduation…I know it is covered up with the gown, but eventually the gown comes off and my girls needed new dresses at that point.
    2. Senior trip. I know our homeschool group here had a senior trip to an amusement park last year – if your group does the same it will be hard to get out of that for less than $50.
    3. Senior banquet/dance/awards ceremony. This may or may not apply in your situation, if you were in a public or private school it certainly would, but many homeschool groups choose to do something like this for their graduating seniors as well. So there may be clothes involved once again 🙂 as well as whatever the event costs.

  4. Sue says:

    Cost of Prom for our house. Both boys asked by PS girls they go to church with.

    • Stacey says:

      Yes, it does seem that Prom is going to add to our budget this year. But thankfully I have a few months to save 🙂


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