The Best Grad Gift Is Money — and Lots of It

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A new survey finds that consumers consider $165 an appropriate gift for a high school graduate. How about a college grad?

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.

Stacy Johnson

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