Junior and senior students slog through a long line as they prepare to purchase their prom tickets. (Owen Espinosa)
Junior and senior students slog through a long line as they prepare to purchase their prom tickets.

Owen Espinosa

Students question the price tag of prom tickets for the “City of Stars”

April 4, 2022

As the school year is drawing upon its last two months, very few events take up the collective discussion of the student body like this year’s “City of Stars” themed prom. Whether it’s students showing off their dresses or discussing which buses their groups of friends will be taking, it seems as if prom’s status as the primary dance and penultimate event for the school year still rings true throughout the school.

However, if there is one conversation that seems to receive mixed feelings from the student body, it is the pricing for the prom and post-prom tickets. For reference, $120 pays for an all-encompassing trip to the Museum of Science and Industry for this year’s prom, as well as the transportation, the DJ, and the food and beverages provided to the students once inside the venue. Another $35 dollars nets you a ticket for this year’s post-prom aboard the Odyssey. This ticket pays for the docked boat at Navy Pier, along with the music and food aboard. The pricing undeniably covers a lot to give students a night to remember, but many students are wondering if the price is a bit steep for those who might not have the same financial backgrounds.

“I think that the standard price for tickets and what we are being offered is fair,” junior Eden George said. “I think it’s a really cool event. But, in the grand scheme of things for the student body, as a whole, it might be a little expensive.”

In March, a survey was sent out to the student body in order to collect opinions on the pricing for tickets. Just shy of 100 students answered with varying opinions on the ticket pricing and their availability for Prom. 92% of students surveyed said they would go to prom if they had the means too, but when asked if they were going to prom this year, only 73% said they would.

“I think the pricing is crazy,” a junior respondent said. “Considering how expensive everything else associated with prom is along with the ticket, why make memories so expensive?”

Many students who are not considering going to prom don’t even think that the price of the tickets are the most problematic financial aspect. Rather, many find it emblematic of a larger problem of expenses that come with the tradition of prom.

“There are many aspects to prom in general, but the most expensive being the clothes themselves,” a sophomore respondent said. “Prom dresses and tuxes are very expensive on their own, and it’s not super convenient to spend another $120 just to get in.”

Other students think that prom may be more fairly priced than it initially seems. When taking into account how much the student council and PTA have to pay, the expenses are more weighted than meets the eye.

“I understand that the tickets are priced so high due to having all of the accommodations such as the buses that then take us to the nice location that was rented out in addition to the decorations and other aspects,” a senior respondent said. “I appreciate that the school and our administration want to make sure we endure a full prom experience. Throughout all of this spending, I have definitely recognized how privileged I am. The amount of money needed to be spent may not be something everyone can do, therefore becoming exclusive to those who can afford it. I just hope everyone eligible to attend prom has equal opportunities and specific regiments to accommodate their needs.”

Other students had more opinions on the funding for the event directly, stating that the current ticket pricing for prom and post-prom almost breaks even for the experience they are trying to give the students.

“As someone who is a part of the prom planning process, I’ve seen all of the inputs that go into prom,” a senior respondent said. “Renting the nice venue, renting out coach buses, catering food for both prom and post-prom, and paying the DJ (which is usually a couple thousand dollars itself)! The Student Council only makes money on homecoming for the year and every other event we just try to break even on, so we’re not making extra money on prom tickets, though it is quite the daunting price for many.”

Even with all this give-and-take when planning and paying for an event as large as York’s prom, some students are still skeptical of how the pricing works.

“You can get a ticket for a three story yacht for $35. I feel like the steep price jump up to a $120 prom ticket is a bit questionable,” senior Nathan Lee said. “Of course, way more people go to prom and with a ticket to get into the Museum of Science of Industry already over $20, I understand making prom a more expensive experience. But making it three to four times more expensive is a little much.”

While the skepticism of the pricing of tickets does seem to be the concern for many students, many students still find the unfairness of a student’s socio-economic status to be a bigger concern for how tickets are priced. With prom being an opportunity primarily for upperclassmen and the expectation for many of them to pay for tickets, lots of students wonder if the price tag is too hefty for an experience that has been drilled into their heads through pop culture as the quintessential high school event.

“I paid for my date and my own ticket to prom and post prom and it was $310 total,” senior Megan Doan said.  “I think it’s fairly priced for what we are being offered, but it also doesn’t mean I think $310 is cheap for two people. The tickets alone cost more than my dress! I’m very grateful that my parents are willing to pay for it, but I know most parents are making the students pay for it themselves. And if you are in a sport or involved in a lot of activities at this school, and aren’t able to give the time for a job, then how is that fair for the students who give a lot to this school’s community, but are at a disadvantage financially?”

Fortunately, even with the discussion and debate on the fairness of ticket pricing, there are some systems in place that can help students pay for prom tickets if the pricing may not be an affordable experience. At the moment, students are able to speak with counselors and social workers in order to come up with solutions to help students ease the payment so more students can experience what Prom has to offer. While this is a solution open for all students, there is still no specific financial aid plan for students who might depend on financial aid to even have a chance at purchasing a prom ticket.

“Yes, students should definitely be able to apply for financial aid,” senior Ethan Soltys said. “I know that you can speak to your counselor but I know many students don’t want to out of fear of being looked down upon, or the stigma that comes with it.”

In the prom ticketing pricing survey, 99% of students said that they would support a school program that would provide specific financial aid for juniors and seniors who want to purchase a prom ticket. About 93% of students believe in some sort of financial aid, either for students in the free or reduced lunch program or a waiver form that juniors and seniors could apply for. There were also a wide variety of ideas students came up with to spread the ability to receive prom tickets, from having more raffles and fundraising events for students to go to based around prom and school spirit, to even scholarship-like-programs to give out prom tickets from service clubs and activities for students who participate and give back to the school’s community.

“Whether or not you agree or disagree with the pricing of the prom tickets, it’s important to remember that this is a very important experience for a lot of students,” Lee said. “This should be a night about dancing and having fun with your friends, and any anxiety or fear about being able to experience that takes away from that. I know for seniors, this is kind of there last big high school event. I’m grateful that we have a school that can host a prom as awesome as the one we’ll have this year. In the end, prom should be about the memories, not the money.”

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