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Higher education, higher fees: Graduation application cost increasing in 2024

The cost to apply to graduate at Long Beach State is nearly the same as a one-day ticket to Disneyland, yet the latter will become the cheaper option by 2024.

CSULB students who graduate by spring of 2023 are required to pay a $100 graduation fee, an increase of $25 from the previous year. But, according to the CSULB commencement website, another increase of $25 will be added for the class of 2024, making the application fee $125.

Beyond 2025, the cost of the application fee will be adjusted as the Higher Education Price Index changes, which leaves room for ambiguity in the actual cost.

The commencement page on the CSULB website outlines the increasing costs of the application fee. Beyond 2025 there is no set cost decided yet.
The commencement page on the CSULB website outlines the increasing costs of the application fee. Beyond 2025 there is no set cost decided yet. Photo credit: CSULB

Applying for graduation is a requirement not only for seniors to attend the commencement ceremony, but to also receive their diploma and determine whether they are qualified to graduate.

“The fees are associated with the event but also associated with the staff that is needed to analyze transcripts,” President Jane Close Conoley said. “There’s a whole lot of backroom people that are hired in order to establish eligibility in a reasonable time for you to receive your diploma.”

Along with the high cost of tuition, which averages just under $4,000 a semester, another increased fee every year affects students that are trying to graduate.

“I feel like we give so much money to this school that they should be able to afford to allow us to graduate,” said Mel Hernandez, a fourth-year psychology major. “It’s kind of disrespectful to us as students who really want to do things with our lives and who need a diploma.”

The fee increase also brings to question the cost of holding the ceremony at Angel Stadium and using the venue beyond the original 2021 plan.

The cost to hold the graduation ceremony at Angel Stadium, which is a total of five days with three dedicated to the actual ceremonies, totaled over $750,000, according to the purchase order from the 2022 contract.

“The projected cost for this year’s commencement ceremonies at Angel Stadium is just over $987,000,” said Gregory Woods, a spokesperson for CSULB, adding that the final cost of the ceremony won’t be known until later in the year.

The increase in the graduation application fee has become a factor for recent CSULB graduates of whether they choose to return to CSULB or look at different universities.

Gama Mora graduated from CSULB in 2021 and said he thought about going back to school to get his master’s degree. As a business graduate, he said he saw the reason for the increase of the fee, but also believed that higher education shouldn’t be equated to the cost of goods.

“If Long Beach is raising these additional fees, I’m going to shop around to different colleges,” Mora said. “I want to go back to Long Beach State because I’m an alumnus, but if they’re doing this to new or returning students, I don’t feel like it’s welcoming to see those increases.”

CSULB is currently the second-highest university in the region for graduation application cost, behind CSUF. However, starting in the fall, CSULB will be the highest out of the 23 Cal State Universities.

Other universities in the region have yet to outline whether they intend to raise their fee.

There will be a change in the ceremony this spring semester, where students’ names will be read aloud as they enter the stadium. There was no individual name recognition during the ceremony last year, despite results from a survey that was sent out to 2022 graduating students last spring.

Hernandez said, “Eventually I feel like it’s going to be impossible for certain people to not be able to go to college, finish their classes or apply to graduate – we’re just getting robbed at this point.”

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