Costs of celebrity college commencement speakers can add up

BOSTON (AP) – While some colleges ask celebrities to deliver commencement speeches for free, others schools are willing to pay.

The University of Houston paid $35,000 this year to book astronaut Scott Kelly. Rutgers University paid $35,000 for journalist Bill Moyers. Kean University in New Jersey paid $40,000 to each of its two speakers.

Their costs are detailed in documents obtained by The Associated Press through records requests.

Colleges that pay for celebrities say it can impress donors and pique the interest of potential students. But some schools have drawn sharp criticism for paying hefty speaking fees.

Experts say more colleges are starting to look for free speakers to avoid controversy. Others are sidestepping the problem altogether. Bradley University in Illinois abolished its graduation speech this year, in part, to cut costs.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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