Graduation commencement is just around the corner, and while graduating students are preparing to say goodbye to UC Santa Barbara, they have more than finals and graduation photos on their mind.

The high cost of graduating is among the most concerning issues graduates face at the end of the year.

“I avoided paying for my cap and gown by asking my friend to lend me hers since she is graduating the day after me,” said Tea Eristavi, a fourth-year communication major, in an email. “It angers a lot of us; it should be cheaper or even free.”

Along with the $79.99 purchase of commencement regalia from the UCen Bookstore, which includes the graduation stole, tassel, cap and gown, the increased demand for lodging inflates the prices of hotels for families and friends.

Frank Duffy, a manager at the Hampton Inn Santa Barbara/Goleta, said the hotel management increases room prices by about $100 per night for graduation weekend.

A spokesperson from the Kimpton Goodland accounting department said when demand increases, prices also increase based off the hotel’s capacity.

A manager at the Goleta Courtyard Marriott also said they take the market price of hotel rooms into consideration when they set their prices.

This price increase, however, does not seem to affect local Airbnbs because of the consistent shifts in supply and lodging capacity.

According to an Airbnb press release with data from Smith Travel Research, the average cost of an Airbnb room was $162 in 2016, while the average price of a hotel room was $367.

This data includes hotels only from the city of Santa Barbara, not the county.

“Our hosts typically do not raise their prices. If they do, it’s very, very slightly,” said Jasmine Mora, an Airbnb spokesperson. “As a consumer you’re just not going to book that listing.”

The lower prices are also because more hosts are signing up for Airbnb to rent out their rooms.

According to Airbnb, 9 percent of users rented out Airbnb rooms for the first time during graduation weekend. This increase in supply helps to accommodate the increase in demand without over-inflating prices.

However, not all travel and lodging services are increasing prices in preparation for graduation weekend.

Deanna Zachrisson, spokesperson for the Santa Barbara Airport, said she did not see a correlation between graduation weekend and increased flight prices.

“There’s a whole number of factors that influence the prices of tickets,” she said. “It also can be the size of the aircraft … it’s really impossible to say that there’s a direct correlation between graduation traffic and cost.”

Zachrisson also said college students make up a low percentage of the airport’s customers.

Some graduation fees imposed by the university are charged only out of necessity, not to profit off of students.

The Office of the Registrar charges an approximately $19 fee to every student graduating in order to process and send them their diplomas. The fee is an average rate to accommodate everyone, including those from smaller classes and international students that have more expensive shipping costs.

She said diplomas for large graduating class sizes are cheaper than smaller class sizes because it is less expensive to buy in bulk.

“It basically goes to cover the cost of the vendor for handling and mailing the diploma,” said the Uuniversity Registrar Leesa Beck. “You wouldn’t want someone to just drop your diploma in a manila envelope and drop it in a mailbox.”

Beck said the diplomas are printed and sent by a third-party, out-of-state vendor.

She also said it was “hard to say” if the total $19 goes directly to diplomas since the prices vary depending on graduating class and international shipping rates.

Replacement diplomas are considerably more expensive at $50 domestically and $75 internationally, which Beck said was partly a “deterrent fee” meant to stop students from ordering multiple copies of their diploma, since they are only supposed to have one. She said this also works to prevent diploma fraud.

Beck said if students can prove their diploma was lost or destroyed, the university frequently waives the fee.

These costs only include the graduation essentials; however, an extra stole is sold at the Bookstore for $29.99 and a Classic Diploma Frame costs $150 and does not qualify for free shipping.

A version of this story appeared on p.1 of the June 8, 2017, print issue of the Daily Nexus.


Tamari Dzotsenidze
Tamari Dzotsenidze, Managing Editor, first started at the Daily Nexus her first quarter freshman year as an assistant news editor. When not in the dungeon under Storke tower, she likes to make weird art and go to the beach with her dog Duke.