How Much Money to Give for a Graduation Gift

The season of transitions is upon us. With the shift from spring to summer, there’s another change that’s happening in the lives of many: graduation. It’s a milestone that signifies growth, achievement, and the onset of new beginnings. Recognizing this significant event with a gift is a beautiful way to show support, and often, people turn to money as their gift of choice. This is because it offers flexibility, allowing the recipient to use it as per their needs. Yet, a prevalent question that looms is: “How much should one give as a graduation gift?”

Factors Influencing Your Gift Amount

There are several factors you might want to ponder upon before determining the amount you’d like to gift:

  1. Your Financial Capacity: Always start by assessing what you can comfortably give without straining your budget.
  2. Your Relationship with the Graduate: Naturally, closer relationships might influence you to gift a larger amount. For a relative or close family friend, you might lean towards the higher end of the suggested range. On the other hand, for acquaintances or distant relatives, you might settle somewhere in the middle or lower end.
  3. The Graduate’s Level of Education: Different milestones might have different expectations. Here’s a handy table to guide you:
    • Middle School Graduation: Typically, gifts fall between $10 to $30.
    • High School Graduation: Here, the range is broader. You might consider gifting anywhere from $30 to $200, or even more, depending on your comfort.
    • College Graduation: A significant achievement like this could see gifts ranging from $30 to $500, or potentially more.

Middle School Graduation:

The Starting Line

Middle school graduation marks the shift from a protected environment to the challenges of high school. It’s a significant achievement, deserving of recognition.


  • General Cash Gifts: If opting for money, a sum between $10 to $30 is seen as considerate.
  • Alternatives: Think about gifting items such as movie passes, spa vouchers, or gift certificates. These gifts are both fun and age-appropriate, fostering a sense of independence and maturity.

High School Graduation:

Stepping Out into the World

Graduating from high school is transformative. The National Retail Federation provided valuable insights into typical gift amounts for this pivotal occasion.


  • Friends & Siblings: Opt for a range between $30 to $75, contingent on your relationship’s closeness.
  • Acquaintances or Coworkers’ Children: For those less familiar, a sum of $30 to $50 seems fitting.
  • Nieces & Nephews: As family, a more generous range of $100 to $200 is common.
  • Children: Parents’ gifts can vary vastly, ranging from $100 upwards. Their contribution towards future education plays a part in this decision.
  • Grandchildren: A range between $50 to $200, contingent on familial closeness and financial situations, is suitable.

College Graduation:

Earning the Degree

College graduation is an affirmation of dedication, making it a momentous occasion that might warrant a more considerable monetary gift.


  • Children: A range between $50 to $500, adjusted based on the financial support throughout college.
  • Close Relatives: Gifts between $50 to $200, adjusting for intimacy and understanding of the graduate’s needs.
  • Friends: A closer bond might see you gifting between $50 to $100.
  • Acquaintances or Coworkers: A modest range of $30 to $75 is seen as thoughtful.
  • Higher Degrees (Master’s or PhD): Consider increasing your gift by around $100 for each advanced degree.

Guidelines for Thoughtful Gifting:

  1. Affordability: Ensure that your gift aligns with your financial situation. It’s the thought that counts, not the amount.
  2. Graduate’s Achievements: Exceptional achievements might motivate you to gift a higher amount.
  3. Understanding the Graduate’s Financial Position: Consider the graduate’s financial obligations and needs when determining the gift amount.

Remember, while these guidelines provide a foundation, the essence of your gift is rooted in your relationship with the graduate and your intentions. The most cherished gifts stem from a place of thoughtfulness and understanding.


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