The Best Grad Gift Is Money — and Lots of It

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Stumped on what to give the 2014 graduate after they collect their hard-earned diploma?

A new survey from RetailMeNot found that half of consumers think money is the best way to congratulate a new graduate. But how much money is adequate? That depends on the graduate’s level of schooling. According to the survey:

  • High school grad. Most people think $165 is a good gift.
  • College graduates. Earn a college degree and you could collect a bigger monetary gift. On average, consumers consider $464 an appropriate gift amount for a college grad.
  • Graduate school grads. You could potentially receive the biggest gift if you graduate from grad school. Most people think $772 is an adequate gift for a grad school graduate.

Am I really cheap, or do those monetary gifts seem steep? I didn’t expect, nor did I receive, anything close to those amounts when I graduated from high school or college. Sure, that was a decade ago (OK, a decade plus a few more years), but I can’t imagine giving that kind of money as a grad gift.

If you’re looking to give a graduation gift without breaking the bank, check out our list of budget-friendly grad gifts.

RetailMeNot said 1 in 5 people surveyed graduated from college with some debt. The average debt was $22,988. But about 23 percent of people owed $30,000 or more. So money seems to be a practical, and much-needed, gift for a new graduate.

The survey also indicates that graduates wish they would have received more advice about the realities of adult life, including: saving money, avoiding spending beyond their means, being wary of credit cards, finding a job quickly and investing. After all, they’re facing a brutal job market.

How much would you spend on a graduation gift? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

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  • grandmaguest

    How about a book on finances and saving and helping them open an IRA (Roth preferably) and helping to fund it. For my grandson, I not only did this but also offered to match him, for me it was dollar for dollar, but it could be whatever amount you could afford. And you could set a time or year limit. I also gave him about 100 dollars in cash. Please understand I am talking about immediate family members…..not the kids down the street, although if you can afford it….it would be a wonderful way to help teach them to save for the future. The amounts listed in the article seem rather high but then I’m retired and that type of money way back when I graduated would have been a months salary!

  • itscricket

    Depends on the relationship with the graduate. For high school graduation the grandchildren will get a hundred but the neighbors’ kid will get good wishes and a twenty. And, recipients, don’t forget your thank you notes, e-mails, calls. If you don’t have social skills by the time you finish high school then don’t expect a gift for future events.