According to a survey recently released by Visa Inc., the average amount of money American families are spending on the prom is $1,078. OUCH. This reflects a $200 increase over what they spent last year.

When you start with the prom ticket, and add on either a new dress or a tuxedo rental, then throw in some accessories like shoes or a handbag, add on dinner, limo costs, hair, makeup, a spray tan, flowers, etc., the costs definitely add up. Going to the prom is not trivial.

The amount spent differs by region, with those in the Northeast spending the most, about $2,000 per family, and those in the Midwest spending the least at about $700 per family.

Ironically, the lowest income families seem to be spending the most on prom costs. According to the Visa Inc. survey, for parents who make more than $75,000 a year, prom spending averages $850. For those making between $20,000 and $29,000, average prom spending is a whopping $2,635.

Teens themselves are incurring some of these costs, as parents pay for approximately 61 percent of the date, and teens pay for about 39 percent.

Obviously, there are many ways to lower the costs associated with the prom. Girls can rent or borrow a dress, limo costs can be shared or teens can drive themselves, parents can make dinner for a group of prom-goers, rather than having to pay for a restaurant meal, and girls can do hair and makeup themselves.

Some fantastic programs exist for those who honestly cannot afford the high costs associated with the prom. The Princess Project, for example, is a non-profit organization that provides prom dresses and accessories to high school girls who cannot otherwise afford them. Volunteers, donations and corporate partners make this program possible.

While the prom is an important memory and milestone in high school, it does not have to break the bank. If you can afford to and wish to go all out on your teen’s prom evening, then by all means do so. If you need to rein it in a bit and cut some costs, there are a variety of options that can ease the cost and still provide the memorable evening.