Breaking the bank: Senior year

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Breaking the bank: Senior year

Natalie Hernandez, Staff Reporter

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By their Junior year, every high school student is encouraged to focus on the college application process. With the cost of application fees, SAT and ACT tests, test prep and books, and various other essentials needed throughout the transition to the next grade, upperclassmen are no strangers to the high costs of attending college. However, many families are unaware that the financial strain begins long before their children step foot on campus.

Materials needed to complete the college process may have waivable fees, but senior dues come with mandatory payments. For Millennium Brooklyn seniors, a mandated $300 must be paid to cover dues for their cap and gown, senior shirt, senior portraits, yearbook, senior breakfast, and several other graduation related affairs. Additionally, 12th grade students have the option to pay $330 for the senior trip to Honor’s Haven resort in Ellenville, New York, and $120 for a ticket to prom. In total, a graduating student attending all senior activities must pay $750, in addition to the money spent on formal clothing for prom and graduation, transportation to the prom venue, and miscellaneous expenses put towards these senior activities. A student’s final year in high school is said to be one of the most memorable, but is it worth burning a hole in your pocket?

“It’s really expensive. I have friends in other high schools with senior dues that are way cheaper than ours,” says a senior at MBHS, wishing to remain anonymous. “I definitely think the price is worth it. Last year, my sister was snapchatting me while she was on her trip and she showed me all the activities they were doing… Of course I’m excited for ours in May.” Compared to other schools, the fees students pay depends on where their administration chooses to host their prom, graduation and senior trip. Regardless, a vast majority of students have continued to attend senior activities each year, gathering funds through jobs, fundraisers, and donations.

Similarly, a study discussed in The New York Times suggested families spent an estimated $1,139 on prom alone in 2013, though the cost was steadily dropping as students find newer, cheaper alternatives to fund their “night to remember.” Many organizations have sprouted throughout the world that aid in providing formal wear and makeup appointments to students of low income families, allowing more individuals to take part in the beloved high school tradition. Noel D’Allacco, the founder of Operation Prom, stated “You already have to think about the costs for college so then tacking on the price tag of the dress, the tuxedo rental, the prom tickets, the limo, the flowers, the hair, the makeup, everything that you need, you are looking at a lot of money that families and the students are worried about that senior year.”

Thankfully, the Millennium Brooklyn High School administration has taken several steps toward making dues more affordable for seniors. There is currently a scholarship available that covers a large portion of the mandatory fees necessary to receive graduation materials that is awarded to students with high financial need. There is also an option to sponsor other students for each of the different fees that greatly relieves families of the dreaded “Second semester stress.”

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