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How Much To Give For High School Graduation?

It’s that time of year again! The hard work is done, the caps are being thrown in the air, and it’s now time for high school students to start the next chapter of their lives.

Watching your loved one graduate will fill you with an enormous sense of pride and happiness. 

How Much To Give For High School Graduation

Many like to celebrate this time with congratulatory dinners, parties, or backyard barbecues. When attending these celebrations, you might be wondering whether or not you need to bring a gift. 

If you are the host of the party, you can get out of the gift-giving as the party is the gift. However, if you are a guest attending a party or celebration, what is the etiquette?

When an invitation doesn’t state anything about gifts, it’s safe to just bring a card. 

In this article, we discuss the appropriate amount of money to give someone for their graduation. 

Why Do People Give Money?

Money is a popular gift to give and receive as found by the National Retail Federation during a survey in 2021. The average amount of money people spend on a graduation gift was around $119. 

As many high school graduates will either be attending college or joining the workforce soon, giving them a helping hand in the form of money can be a great idea. 

This could help them to buy college supplies, books, or even just give them a little extra spending money to blow off some steam. 

When Is It Appropriate To Give A Graduation Gift?

Anyone who wants to give someone a gift can do so! There are no rules on who needs to send a gift and who doesn’t.

However, we would suggest that if you were invited to the graduation ceremony, then you should offer a token of your support. 

This could be in the form of a card or letter, it doesn’t have to be a huge fancy endeavor.

As ceremonies have a limited capacity, it is important that you have been chosen to attend and therefore, requires you to show appreciation for this.

How Much Money Should You Gift High School Graduate?

The amount of money you give to a recent high school graduate can depend on a number of variables.

The relation to the person and the amount of money you can afford to give are the main considerations that should be taken into account. 

Another factor that may influence how much money someone can give is where they live. Are the costs of living higher in your state than in others?

Money tends to go further in places such as Texas compared to New York. 


Parents are usually the highest spenders as they are typically closest to the graduate. Many parents agree that $100 is a good amount to give their children.

There are no rules here, whatever works for your budget is the right amount. 

When you have multiple children, it can be important to remember that you will probably have to give these gifts equally.

So if you’re giving $100 to one child, the others may also expect this on their graduation day. 


Grandparents usually tend to give anywhere between $20 to $100 depending on their situation. They aren’t expected to give as much as parents unless they are an acting guardian of the individual.

Those that don’t have parents may also expect a little more from their grandparents or other relatives. 

How Much To Give For High School Graduation (1)

Other Relatives

Aunties, uncles, and cousins may want to give their nieces and nephews some money on their graduation day depending on how close they are.

As it’s not as important as a birthday, relatives that aren’t particularly close wouldn’t be expected to contribute a gift. 

A standard amount for this type of relative varies between $15 to $25, depending on how close you are. 


As many graduates will be marking this occasion with their classmates and friends, it is not very common for friends to give each other money.

If the friend is older and no longer in high school with the person, they may want to give $10 as a gesture of goodwill. 

Alternative Graduation Gifts

Not everyone can afford to give their loved ones a significant monetary gift for their graduation.

This does not diminish how proud they are of the individual or how much they love them, it is just circumstantial. 

There are a number of alternatives to giving someone money as a gift. We’ve listed a few of our favorites here:

  • Write a meaningful card 
  • Make a collage going through their school years 
  • Give a pretty bunch of flowers
  • Buy a nice box of chocolates
  • Get a framed photo of the family on the graduation day

Cash Or Check?

Is there any etiquette on what form the money should be given in when it comes to graduation? There are no rules here, but there are some useful guidelines to follow to ensure a smooth transaction. 

Although most high school-age teens will have their own bank account, some may not have gotten around to it yet.

If this is the case, it’s best to give them their gift in cash as they won’t be able to cash a check. 

When the graduate doesn’t live in your immediate area, do not be tempted to send the cash in the post as it may get stolen.

This leaves everyone out of pocket and disappointed, especially if it’s a large amount of money. 

When sending the money in the post, send a check instead and get their parents or guardians to cash it for them and give them the money. 

The Bottom Line

Gifting a recent high school graduate money is very generous and can help them along the way in the next chapter of their lives.

There is no ‘right’ amount to give someone as each person will have a different personal relationship with the graduate and certain financial circumstances that will dictate how much they can afford to give. 

Simon Lewis

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