A graduation speaker used her address to explain how she negotiated her speaking fee -- and then gave all of it to a 2017 graduate

Maria BamfordVimeo/City PagesOne lucky graduate got a check at the end of the University of Minnesota’s graduation.

Comedian and actress Maria Bamford used her graduation address to provide a lecture on the art of negotiation to the University of Minnesota class of 2017.

Bamford, who graduated from the school in 1993 with a degree in creative writing, expounded upon the necessity for liberal arts majors to care about money in a hilarious speech.

“Let me begin by talking about the elephant in the room at a liberal arts graduation ceremony — and that is money,” she began, before reading an email from the school inviting her to speak.

“Normally the college does not pay for commencement speakers. As you can imagine, being a state-funded institution, we have to be careful regarding the use of our resources,” Bamford said, reciting the email aloud.

“Well, I thought to myself, but I am a self-funded institution who needs to be careful regarding the use of my resources,” she said, eliciting laughter from the audience. “Was my alma mater low balling me?” she continued. “I’m not a sitting governor and the football coach isn’t living check to check.”

Bamford said she responded to the email by asking for a $US20,000 speaking fee. Minnesota came back with an offer of $US10,000, which she quickly accepted, though acknowledged she should have asked them to “split the difference.” After taxes and commission fees that netted out to about $US5,000, according to Bamford.

At the end of the speech she asked a graduate with student loans to join her onstage and presented them with the check.

“What I’m giving to you is a check for $US5,000 written to Sallie Mae,” Bamford said. “I could’ve give you more, but I did not negotiate for myself a higher salary.”

You can watch the entirety of the speech here:


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