With graduation rapidly approaching, Binghamton University students aiming to walk in commencement are exploring new options to obtain their caps and gowns.
At BU, students can buy their caps and gowns from Herff Jones, a company that sells educational recognition and achievement products. These products vary from caps, gowns, tassels, stoles and hoods to optional items such as class rings, diploma frames and thank-you notes. According to the Herff Jones website, the price for a cap, gown, tassel and stole for undergraduates is $88.50, not including tax and shipping. For graduate students, the price of a cap, gown, tassel and hood ranges from $96.50 for master’s students to $141.50 for doctoral students.
The price of ordering a brand-new cap and gown can be prohibitive for students, and some are starting to look into buying or borrowing used graduation garb from friends and alumni. Ruddy Ronquillo, a senior double-majoring in political science and Latin American and Caribbean studies, said she’s exploring cheaper options for when she graduates this semester.
“I personally think it’s a lot to ask for, especially when students have already paid so much in other dues,” Ronquillo said. “Thankfully, I was told by a housemate to borrow one of my older friend’s gowns, and then maybe search online to buy the cap. I haven’t looked into it, but I’m going to try that. It might sound crusty, but for people that don’t want to keep their cap and gown, there should be an option to rent or something.”
According to Yona Benyamini, a college division representative for Herff Jones, there are different graduation packages students can choose from, but only the caps and gowns are necessary for students to participate in the ceremony.
“The only thing you have to have for graduation is your cap and gown and regalia,” Benyamini said. “Everything else is just recognition items or things for your family to celebrate.”
Although caps and gowns are technically one size, students can obtain extra-large caps at the University Bookstore if their caps are too small. Gowns are also customizable for students depending on their height and weight when they buy them new. Despite the perks of a customized cap and gown, however, Karen Jung, ’18, who graduated last semester and is participating in commencement in May, said she is going to get her cap and gown from her friend who already graduated.
“It makes no sense that I have to pay for these garments that I’ll never wear again,” Jung said. “I’m getting my cap and gown from my friend who is an [alumna]. Even she had to split hers between two people. I think they should definitely try lowering the price by offering a rental option. I know my friend gets to rent her cap and gown from her institution.”
According to Benyamini, although Herff Jones does not sell second-hand caps and gowns or offer rental options, they do allow students to recycle their gowns after graduation if they no longer want them.
“The gowns are made from a recycled fabric — plastic bottles, believe it or not, that have been recycled into the fabric,” Benyamini said. “We do offer the school the opportunity to let us ship boxes to the ceremony because kids who don’t ever want to keep it can throw it in the box. We will pick it up for free and recycle the gowns.”
Pitom Saha, a senior majoring in computer science, said while he thinks the cost of a new cap and gown is too expensive, he’ll still likely end up buying it online from Herff Jones.
“The gowns are $80 or so, but for a one-time use, it’s silly,” Saha said. “I could borrow from a friend, but I’ll probably end up buying a set for convenience. The University should run its own cap and gown system with reusable, washable gowns that can be loaned out for a week or so.”
The deadline to order caps and gowns through Herff Jones is March 25. Students can begin picking up their orders and individual items on May 8 from the University Bookstore.