What Is a Suitable Cash Amount to Give as a Graduation Gift?

Graduation season is approaching for students of all ages, and many of them are expecting gifts. What is a suitable cash amount to give to a graduate?

Ade Hennis - Author

May 5 2022, Updated 3:41 p.m. ET

Graduates throwing their caps
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It's May and graduation season is approaching for students of all ages. Graduation is a significant moment in their life. It’s also a time when graduates look forward to receiving gifts. Along with giving cash as a wedding gift, many wonder what's a suitable cash amount to give as a graduation gift.

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Giving someone cash as a graduation gift sounds fairly easy, but there are some things to consider before giving away cash.

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What is a suitable cash amount for a high school graduate?

According to Love to Know, cash gifts for high school graduates are typically at least $100 if the gift is coming from a parent. If it’s a grandparent, then a cash gift ranges from $50–$100+, while gifts from siblings or friends are in the range of $20–$75. Cash offerings in general for high school students range from $20–$100.

These are just estimated ranges. There isn't a standard or set amount of cash that you have to give to the recipient. If you want to give a cash gift of $1,000, then you have every right to do so. If you’re limited on funds and can only give $5, there isn’t anything wrong with that either.

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What's a reasonable cash amount for a college graduate?

Cash offerings for college graduates tend to range from $100–$500. A parent will often give a gift of $50–$100 for an undergraduate degree. If the college degree is advanced (think master's or doctorate), then the amount can go up by $100 for each degree. Close relatives outside of parents often give a gift of $50, while close friends donate $25, and acquaintances or co-workers commonly offer $20. But like high school graduation gifts, college gifts can be as big or small as you want.

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What to consider with cash gifts.

While giving someone cash can be rewarding enough, if you know the graduate, giving them a personalized note with the money can make the gift more sentimental. A perfect example is buying a graduation card from the store, writing a short congratulatory note, and putting the cash inside the card.

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You could also opt to just send the cash via an online money transfer service such as Cash App, Venmo, and QuickPay. This allows you to give the money directly to the person, without worrying about you or the graduate losing the cash at hand or someone stealing it.

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Alternatives to giving cash amounts.

Cash doesn’t have to be the only type of gift a student receives, and if you’re someone who's low on cash or you simply prefer to give a gift in a different way, then that’s fine. Instead of giving cash as a gift, you could offer to take the graduate to lunch or some type of meal.

If you think the graduate would enjoy shopping at a specific retailer, then a gift card is another great option as a graduation gift. According to the National Retail Federation, gift cards were the third most popular gift for those who graduated in 2021, behind cards in second, and cash in first.


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