Cash Gift Amount for High School Graduation 2021

Graduating high school is that special time that happens only once in a person’s life. It represents the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. For everyone who graduates from high school, it means leaving behind the many friends they grew up with and going out to establish a life on their own. Whether it’s going to college or finding work right away, graduating high school is a momentous event.

How Much Money to Give to a High School Graduate? The answer is you should give them enough to enjoy, but not too much.

On average, the cash gift amount for high school graduation is between $10-$300. Acquaintances and colleagues are likely to give between $10-$20, friends give between $20-$30, family and relatives give $50-$100, and parents give between $100-$300.

Think of your monetary contribution as something they can enjoy right away at dinner or to purchase something that is part of their hobby or interest. In other words, keep the gift reasonable as you would for their birthday. While they only graduate from high school once, that does not mean you should feel compelled to give them a lot of money.

What follows is a list of relations to the high school graduate and the recommended amounts they give as money. If you cannot think of a specific gift that they would enjoy, then money is more than adequate compensation. It provides them the means to purchase what they want. Plus, it doesn’t take much thought on your part which is always a good thing.

Related: How Much Cash Gift Do People Give for a Wedding?

Graduate school kids standing with degree scroll in campus

Recommended Amount for Acquaintances

Under normal circumstances, there is no gift that is expected, not even a card. However, there may be circumstances in which a gift is appropriate. For example, you work closely with the graduate, but have yet to establish a bond outside of work. If that is the case, then a small monetary gift may do.

Ten dollars is enough to be noticed, but still falls mostly towards the pocket change territory. In other words, it’s a small enough amount not to be considered offensive or uncomfortable even with families on a tight budget. 

Recommended Amount for Friends

For the most part, friends should not get as much as relatives. After all, it’s more likely that a friend will enjoy being with the graduate as they celebrate their graduation. So, the recommended amount of money to give should be small and appropriate.

This category should include cousins and other relatives of similar distance that are close to the age of the graduate. It helps if you can keep the gift small and perhaps it can be part of going out to dinner or other type of celebration that you can enjoy together.

Recommended Amount for Nephew or Niece

Nieces and nephews enjoy a closer bond to aunts and uncles as they are part of their parent’s generation. This category can include great uncles and aunts as well. Of course, the amount you give will depend on the closeness of your relationship to the graduate, but it should be more than what a friend would give.

This is enough to help them make a larger purchase, perhaps something that they have saved up over time. Or, it can be for a larger celebration that they will enjoy later in the evening. Whatever the case, your gift will be well appreciated and remembered. But keep in mind that it is your relationship with the graduate that is special.

Recommended Amount for Grandchildren

Graduate girl hugging mother

Grandparents enjoy a closer connection that is often reflected in the monetary gifts they provide. As a grandparent, you probably have given small amounts of cash on their birthdays, so a somewhat larger cash gift for this once in a lifetime event is probably expected.

Of course, it is the thought that counts when you are giving any gift. The amount you give should be lower compared to the parents, so you may want to consult with them first if you believe that your cash gift is going to be significantly larger. A matter of a few dollars here or there is normally no big deal. But a substantial difference may create friction where it could’ve been avoided.

Recommended Amount for Son or Daughter

Young female graduate hugging her mother at graduation ceremony, Success,Goal. Education concept.

If you are giving to your son or daughter who is graduating, then you’ll want to include an amount that is appropriate for this remarkable event. As the parent, it is probably expected that you will give the most. So, you will need to give an amount that provides the means for your son or daughter to enjoy themselves or help make a larger purchase that they have been saving.

You can go higher than $100 of course depending on your disposable income and what you have given your child in the past for their birthdays. For example, if you normally give $100 on their birthday, then upping it to $200 or $300 for their graduation would be appropriate.

Again, if you are cash-strapped then do not worry about the amount you can give. Your child will understand if the money is not available. You should also talk to your brothers, sisters, and parents about your situation and the money that is appropriate for them to give. It’s better to have the conversation before the big day than a heated discussion afterwards.

Related: When Should You Stop Giving Your Kids Allowance?

High School Graduation Cash Gift Etiquette

With cash, you can keep things simple and present it in an envelope. That is the most common way that cash is given. An envelope and a card that expresses your joy at their graduation. By recognizing this most important event in their lives, you can add to it a little money that will help make celebrating this time even more enjoyable.

If you plan on giving a gift, then the cash will not be necessary or expected. You should only add cash if it is required to purchase additional items for the gift you give. Remember that a gift should around the same price range as the money that is recommended.

Since the gift is in cash, it should be hand-delivered by you. While you may trust your postal service, even they warn of sending cash in the mail. If you do so, be sure to disguise it so it is not easily recognized as containing cash.

There are a wide variety of ways you can give cash, but the simplest is the best. You can even make a game of it if you desire, but for the most part cash tucked inside a card is the most recommended means of giving.

High School Graduation Cash Gift Tips

Young college high school graduates at graduation ceremony

Giving gifts of any type is more art than science. Cash offers a good alternative because unless the graduate makes it obvious what they enjoy, it can be difficult to choose the right gift. What follows are some tips you can follow when making a cash gift.

Don’t go overboard: Even though graduating high school is a once in a lifetime event, you should not go overboard when it comes to giving cash. This is especially true if you are friend or more distant relative. Keep the amount something that they can use for a small purchase, help pay for dinner, or perhaps a ticket to see a movie.

For friends, keep the cash you give to a low amount. The last thing you want is to create any controversy by giving more than their parents or grandparents.

It is ok to give low amount or none: Another consideration is your own disposable income. It is the thought that counts and not the amount you give. If you do not have enough to spare for the recommended amount, then a card with a nice thought written on it will do. This is especially true for friends who should think more about celebrating with graduation than how much they give.

Never Discuss in Public the Amount You Give: If you give the recommended amount, then there should be no issue. However, understand that parents who may be cash-strapped may not take kindly to a cash gift that is far more than they can afford. More than one scene has been created when a cash gift was out of proportion to what is recommended.

You may want to discuss with them the gift you are planning on giving to the graduate. You do not have to be direct with the amount, but you can tell the parents that you plan on giving a little cash and want to know what type of items or purpose they would have. That way, your contribution can go towards something the graduate wants which will put the parents’ minds more at ease.

You can even combine your cash gift with what the parents offer. This is one way to show your affection and appreciation of what the child has accomplished while not creating an uncomfortable situation. In the end, if you have any real concerns it is best to discuss with the parents first.

Giving cash can be quite easy, but it can also be a challenge depending on the circumstances. Remember to keep your cash gift modest unless you are the parent looking to buy them something that assists with their future.