New price tag on graduation for seniors

Liz Butterfield
Online News Editor

Graduating seniors and other students were surprised to learn the cost to graduate will be going up slightly this spring. Students received an email Wednesday, Jan. 15 that the VCU would no longer be providing students with commencement regalia, including a cap and gown, free of charge.

Students will need to purchase their own caps, gowns and other traditional graduation regalia from the VCU Barnes & Noble or from other vendors before commencement.

“The annual cost of providing graduates with caps, gowns and hoods has been approximately $140,000 in recent years, an unsustainable cost that has diverted funds from urgent university priorities, such as financial aid and student services,” said associate vice provost and dean of student affairs Reuban Rodriguez in an email to students.

This is the latest in a string of budget changes asking students to pay more for services around the university, including an increase to parking permit costs and an elimination of free GRTC bus passes last year.

Rodriguez said it is standard procedure for students to pay for their regalia at other universities.

“In order to use those funds for other items that would be able to assist students, that decision was made,” he said.

Students receiving a bachelor’s degree will pay about $40 when ordering regalia from the VCU Barnes & Noble, but may also be purchased during the annual graduation fair one to two months before commencement. Masters and doctoral students will pay more for the additional pieces of regalia, such as a doctoral hood, worn during the ceremony. Students will also be able to purchase their cap and gown at the university graduation fairs, typically held in one to two months ahead of commencement.

The university is also creating a fund for students needing financial assistance to pay for their graduation regalia, and students are already beginning to reach out with their concerns, Rodriguez said.

“Students of course don’t like to be charged for things and I can understand that but I think they’ve been accepting of it. Not saying they would want to pay for something, but students usually do when presented the reasons why,” Rodriguez said.

“It’s not any great secret that the cost to students for higher education has gone up,” Rodriguez said. “So unfortunately the reality is that VCU just like many other colleges and universities has to look at how to utilize our resources.”

Political science senior Aleena Inthaly said she learned about the new cost to her graduation through Rodriguez’s email last week. “I think it’s kind of unnecessary because they did tell us it’s only $140,000 a year to provide graduating seniors with their cap and gowns. So $40 is fine for me, but I still think it’s a little much,” Inthaly said. “We should be able to be provided with a cap and gown, but at the same time I don’t mind it.”

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