It's all led up to this moment.
The nights she read aloud to you from Dr. Seuss, each page-turn a measure of her effort. The evenings you called out spelling words and waited for him to answer "ei" or "ie."
Here stands your son or daughter. Mortarboard perched atop her head. Tassel dangling toward his cheek. And you in awe, imagining all the wonderful things that await.
You want to embrace them and give them the world.
And maybe, just maybe, hand them the bill for the last six months of expenses related to being a high school senior — a total that could exceed $2,000 for the student who decides to go all out.
Meet Chelsea Morgan, 18, senior class president at Palm Harbor University High, future University of Florida Gator and a heckuva money saver. Morgan knew she wanted to go all out for her senior year. So, the aspiring political science and international studies major worked 20 hours a week at Steak N' Shake to make it happen, paying for many of her expenses and foregoing splurges like the class ring ($199 to $399).
"She's just so self-sufficient," marveled mother Darcy Morgan, 50, who wrangled her daughter into allowing her to pay for her prom hairdo ($50), her senior portraits ($100) and her announcements ($60 to $70).
Here's a by-no-means-complete snapshot of the expenses that could keep a graduating senior (or their parents) whipping out the credit card during the final year.
Take notes, juniors.
Class T-shirt: $15 to $20
Class ring: $199 to $399
Yearbook: $55 to $75
Announcements/thank you cards/name cards: $57 to $276
Grad fees (cap, gown, medallion, security, operating costs): $75
Honors cords: $8 to 10 (usually included in club fees)
Grad Nite ticket for Walt Disney World: $49.95 to $90
Senior breakfast: $20
Senior party (catered dinner, T-shirt): $10
Prom ticket: $45
Limo: $425 to $759 for a five hour ride (can be split among passengers for about $40 to $50 per person)
Prom dress: $60 to $300
Prom tuxedo rental: $49 (no shoes or vest) or $89.99 to $149.99 (complete packages)
Corsage/boutonniere: $10 to $20
Senior class photos, sitting: $20 to $50
Senior class photos, yearbook publishing fee: $10
Senior class photos, packages: $80 to $600
Panoramic picture of Senior Class together: $15
Graduation ceremony photos: $7.95 to $200
Storm Surge (after graduation alcohol-free party): $10 in advance, $20 at door.
Estimated total: $75 to $2,285
SAT cost: $45
SAT subject test: $20
SAT language test with listening: $40
ACT cost: $32 to $47
Average college application fee: $35
Projected graduates this year
Pinellas County: 6,900
* Represents the graduating seniors from 14 of Pasco County's 17 high schools. Complete figures were not available.
Source: Palm Harbor University High School, Balfour Class Rings and Graduation Products, Bryn-Alan Photography, Bob Knight Photo, Embassy Limousine, Allstar Limousine, Men's Wearhouse, College Board, ACT