UPenn's 2012 commencement Credit: Flickr Creative Commons / University of Pennsylvania

Updated May 1

Happy college graduation season, Philly! Institutions of higher learning are on the cusp of their commencement ceremonies — most of which are set for mid-May. With at least a half dozen colleges and universities in Philadelphia and the surrounding ‘burbs, the number of soon-to-be-degree-holders is pretty high around these parts.

Unfortunately for some of these newly educated Philadelphians, mounting student loan debt isn’t the only expense headed their way. The academic regalia traditionally worn on graduation day can be costly — but it depends where you’re getting that diploma.

Some Philly-area schools won’t charge you a cent for your cap and gown, while others will get you for close to the $100 mark.

Which schools gank you and which give it up gratis doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the price of tuition, either.

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Here’s a rundown of the details.

The Community College of Philadelphia

If you’re expecting to earn your associate’s at CCP, there’s relatively good news: on the Philly-region scale, your academic regalia is pretty cheap. It’ll run you $30 for a cap, gown and hoodplus you can order each item individually at a reduced cost if you don’t want all three.


Yeesh. Get ready to empty your pockets. Temple students earning their bachelor’s degrees will have to come up with $79.90 to dress the part.

La Salle

Ding ding ding! We have a winner. If you were in the market for the most expensive academic regalia in the city of Philadelphia, look no further. For Bachelor’s degree graduates, La Salle charges $90.70 per cap and gown.


Coming in a close second, Drexel will run you $86.98. Fork it over, dragons.

University of Pennsylvania

And then there’s Penn, which charges a whopping $83 per set of cap and gown.

Saint Joe’s

On the sliding scale of cheap and not-so-cheap academic regalia in the city of brotherly love, Saint Joe’s is the comfortable medium. You’ll be out $60.99 for a cap and gown at this Northwest Philly school.


While this one’s status as an actual Philly school might be up for debate, it’s close by, and tons of Haverford students go on to live in the city. For those of you set to graduate, you’ve got a pretty sweet deal: $32.99 for the commencement attire you’ll need.


There are a lucky bunch of Philadelphia students who won’t have to empty their pockets to accept their diplomas. The following schools will provide you with caps and gowns absolutely free of charge:

  • Thomas Jefferson University
  • University of the Arts
  • Villanova
  • Swarthmore

Damn, you kids are lucky. Any chance y’all can accidentally lose your first set of regalia and pick up another free set for your friends at Drexel?


Free…sort of

Bonus round: what if your cap and gown was free, but only if you leave it in perfect condition? A word of caution to the soon-to-be Bryn Mawr graduates: Your school will lend you a cap and gown for free. But if you don’t return it, you’ll suddenly find yourself paying $350 — that’s the absolute highest price for academic regalia in the city of Philadelphia.

Seriously. If you don’t return your regalia to the Campus Center by the Saturday after commencement, you’ll be slapped with a hefty fine. So much for keeping the cap as a souvenir.

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Michaela Winberg

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...