The most expensive milestone


Annabella Mireles

In addition to spending on college tuition, the graduation process can also be very expensive, with necessary purchases like graduation gowns, caps and stoles and others like graduation photos.

Eduardo Flores, Contributor

Graduating college or university is an important achievement but can also be very expensive for students and their families.  

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) awarded a total of 5,049 degrees, with 3,708 degrees awarded to undergraduates during the academic year of 2019-2020, according to the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.  

In addition, 76 percent of all UTEP graduates and 82 percent of baccalaureate graduates are Hispanic. This result has placed UTEP eighth in the nation in Hispanic baccalaureate degree awards.  

Furthermore, 50 percent of UTEP students who earn a baccalaureate degree are first-generation college graduates. An estimated 70 percent are Pell Grant recipients and 50 percent of the graduates come from families of lower income (i.e., an annual household income of less than $35,677.60). 

The first step to graduation is the graduation application that all students, regardless of their major, must submit to their respective academic dean. The fee for the graduation application is $35, but if a candidate misses the corresponding deadline of their college, they will be subject to pay the late graduation application fee of $50.  

Besides, the cost of crossing the stage dressed in regalia is also an important aspect that graduates need to consider. Regalia (caps, gowns, tassels, etc.) is available for purchase online or in-person at the UTEP Bookstore up to the day of commencement and even during Grad Fair week. 

Students can purchase their bachelor gown for $34 while the master gown is $40 and the doctoral gown goes for $52. The UTEP stole is $40.00, the UTEP cap is nine dollars, the tassel is five dollars, the UTEP medallion is $15, and the UTEP souvenir tassel is seven dollars. 

First-generation college students can also buy special recognition cords to display proudly at the commencement ceremony. First-Gen cords are $16 each and can be purchased at the UTEP bookstore.  

Pictures preserve the notable events and people in our lives, which is why graduating students book photo sessions. Many local photographers have their agenda full of scheduled sessions, not only for college students, but high school seniors. Prices vary among photographers, but the average price goes from $150 to $250. 

Laura Arreola, a graduating senior in political science at UTEP, shared her thoughts on graduation expenses and the importance of planning ahead.  

“I wish some things like the stole and gown were cheaper because those two items were the most expensive,” Arreola said. “My overall experience is that there needed to be more sizes on the gowns because me and other people had to exchange gowns because they did not fit at all.”   

These are just some of the many costs of graduation that students and their families cover to celebrate one of their greatest achievements professionally and academically. 

For more information about the upcoming 2022 Fall Commencement ceremony visit

Eduardo A. Flores is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]; @eduardo_aa_flores on Instagram; @floreseduardo on Twitter.