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Public Universities: Gap Year and Deferred Enrollment

Public Universities: Gap Year and Deferred Enrollment

A gap year is defined as a year that a student takes off between graduation from high school and enrollment at a 2 year or 4 year college. A gap year between high school and college may be a good option to consider for many students.

However, taking a gap year requires some research on the part of the student and the family. Gap year can be when

  1. the student has not applied to college while in high school, or
  2. 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.

College Maximum Gap
Ohio State University-Main Campus 1 Year
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus 1 Year
Rutgers University-New Brunswick 1 Year
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 1 Year
Indiana University-Bloomington 1 Year
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 1 Year
The University of Alabama 1 Year
University of Wisconsin-Madison 1 Year
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 1 Year
University of Missouri-Columbia 1 Year
University of Georgia 1 Year
University of Maryland-College Park 1 Year
University of Colorado Boulder 1 Year
University of South Carolina-Columbia 1 Year
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College 1 Year
University of Kentucky 1 Year
University of Massachusetts-Amherst 1 Year
University of Iowa 1 Year
University of Oregon 1 Year
University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus 1 Year
University of Connecticut 1 Semester
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1 Year
University of Delaware 1 Year
University of Mississippi 2 Years
University of Utah 7 Semesters
University of New Mexico-Main Campus 1 Year
University of Virginia-Main Campus 1 Year
University of Nevada-Reno 1 Year
University of New Hampshire-Main Campus 1 Year
University of Rhode Island 1 Year
University of Vermont 1 Year
University of North Dakota 1 Semester
The University of Montana 1 Year
University of Wyoming 1 Year
University of Maine 2 Semesters
Arizona State University-Tempe 2 Years
Michigan State University 1 Semester
Iowa State University 1 Year
University of California-Davis 3 Quarters
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 1 Year
Georgia State University 1 Year
Oregon State University 1 Year
Oklahoma State University-Main Campus 1 Year
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus 1 Year
The University of Texas at Dallas 1 Year
CUNY City College 1 Year
Table 1: Public colleges which allow a gap year
The University of Texas at Austin University of Florida
University of Arizona University of Washington-Seattle Campus
University of California-Berkeley The University of Tennessee-Knoxville
University of Nebraska-Lincoln University of Kansas
University of Idaho University of South Dakota
Texas A & M University-College Station California State University-Northridge
Florida State University University of California-Los Angeles
Purdue University-Main Campus California State University-Long Beach
California State University-Fullerton San Diego State University
University of California-San Diego University of California-Irvine
San Francisco State University California State University-Sacramento
San Jose State University Washington State University
California State University-Los Angeles University of California-Santa Barbara
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
California State University-Fresno University of California-Riverside
Kansas State University California State University-San Bernardino
University of California-Santa Cruz California State University-Chico
California State University-East Bay California State University-San Marcos
California State University-Dominguez Hills Buffalo State SUNY
Sonoma State University Humboldt State University
California State University-Bakersfield California State University-Stanislaus
California State University-Monterey Bay University of California-Merced
California State University-Channel Islands California Maritime Academy
Table 2: Public colleges which do not allow a gap year

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.