However, taking a gap year requires some research on the part of the student and the family. Gap year can be when
- the student has not applied to college while in high school, or
- the student has accepted an offer of admission while finishing high school and is looking to defer enrollment for a year or more.
In this post, we are going to address the situation where the student has an offer of admission, and is looking to defer enrollment for a year or more. Students can defer enrollment for the following reasons:
- Personal, cultural, and educational enrichment through non collegiate experiences
- Public Service
- Military Service
- Medical Concerns
- Financial Concerns (not all colleges will accept this as a valid reason)
- Family Concerns
- Unique work or travel opportunities
An admitted student will need to submit an application for deferral of enrollment. Though keep in mind that there is no guarantee that the application will be accepted by the university. Most of the time the student will need to pay a deposit which is usually credited towards tuition upon enrollment. Another important point to keep in mind is the (non) transferability of financial aid. If the student is awarded any need based aid, then the student has to reapply for financial aid for the year of enrollment by filing the FAFSA and CSS Profile again. Sometimes merit aid is transferable to the next year. It depends on the individual college’s merit aid policy. Before applying for deferral of enrollment, it is important to talk with the college financial aid office and determine the transferability of the awarded aid. A similar exercise is required for all external scholarships, so that the student does not lose any awarded scholarship.
A number of O's Lists users have asked if all universities allow admitted students to defer enrollment for a year. Many private colleges allow admitted students to defer enrollment. However, not all public universities allow admitted students to defer enrollment. Here is the O’s List guide to a selection of flagship public universities and their policy of deferred enrollment.
If a student and their family know that a gap year is of interest to them, then they should check to make sure that the colleges they are considering allow deferral of enrollment. However if a student has an offer of admission from a college that does not have a policy of deferral and something changes in their situation that warrants a deferral, they should absolutely reach out to the admission office with their reasons. Most colleges will consider and allow for deferral for family and medical reasons even if they don’t have a policy of deferral.
If the student is interested in deferring their enrollment, they should research and plan for their gap year during the application process. Ignoring this crucial and simple step could lead to unpleasant surprises later in the application process. Our next posts will be about deferral of enrollment at private colleges and available bridge programs.