Earlier this month Manhattan College’s graduating seniors were charged a $375 graduation fee via Self Service.
Students graduating this May received an email in early April requesting the fee to be paid by late April, approximately a month before this semester’s graduation ceremony, which will take place on Friday, May 19 in Draddy Gymnasium.
William Clyde, MC’s Provost and Executive Vice President, described the charge as a one-time fee that the school has always had.
“Some fees are there just when you hit that thing, like an application fee at the very beginning or a deposit as a freshman, and then you don’t have it again after that,” Clyde said. “But this is one that is there just at the end to cover the cost of commencement and all of the processes around that.”
According to Clyde, the fee was not charged earlier because a confirmed list of graduates was not completed until late March. This list is formed only after all MC graduating seniors fill out an ‘intent to graduate’ form. These students’ academic records are then checked to make sure that they are candidates for graduation.
The fee covers the expenses of, in large part, the graduation itself, along with the processes of confirming students’ grades, certification to the state, reconfirming all of the courses, and ordering the diplomas.
“The commencement and all of the processes around it is an expensive thing,” Clyde said.
Clyde also added that many other colleges often have a graduation fee as well, though it may be called something else, such as a ‘general fee’ instead.
“Not only have we always had something like this, but if you look at any other school, they always have this, but sometimes they call it something else that sounds more innocuous so it doesn’t raise red flags,” he said.
Despite the prevalence of this charge, some students are not happy about the extra expense on an already high tuition.
“I wasn’t thrilled when I paid it. A lot of times it feels like that money disappears and tuition is already so much. For instance, I know that it simplifies their process, but it would be nice to give the cap and gown back rather than pay for an outfit I can only wear once,” said Daniel Weiss, a senior.
Fellow senior Tom Power was also not pleased with the fee.
“MC already asks for enough money from each student as it is. The cost should be built into the ‘fees’ section of student billing to avoid students and families feeling as if MC is trying to money gouge,” he said.
On the school’s decision not to embed graduation costs in the tuition, Clyde said, “Then you’d be having freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, some of whom may not end up graduating, paying for it.”
For seniors who fail to pay the $375 charge, the result would be a hold on the student’s account and he or she would be unable to get a copy of their diploma.