This year, more students than ever before are looking into the idea of a gap year. Traditionally, gap years have been utilized as a time for students to gain world experience before entering their college path. Gap years are not time for students to defer a year of college to do nothing.
But this year has certainly not followed the traditional path, and that includes the policies on gap years.
Students and their families often wonder, “How are these experiences viewed by colleges?” And they’re right to ask this question in advance. Every college has a different policy on how they view gap years. Viewing your potential gap year from the college perspective is essential before proceeding forward with making any plans, because the wrong move could cost thousands of dollars in the end.
Make a Plan
Every college has a different policy on how they view gap years, especially in regards to financial aid. Do the research well in advance to be fully educated on how an application featuring a gap year will be viewed, before committing to a plan. Many colleges (typically rolling admissions schools) don’t allow a gap year at all, meaning that applicants pursuing a gap year are considered in the incoming freshman applicant pool. These schools do not allow a “deferment” of admission, where an admission offer is accepted and a seat is held for that student until after their gap year.
Add the Financials
The first move any student should make when considering a gap year is to contact the schools to see how they will be considered financially. This is not a step to be skipped and handled later, by any means.
A little known fact in the admissions world is that students can handicap themselves financially during a gap year by making the wrong moves. The timing alone, applying as a gap year student, may affect their access to merit aid, depending on the policies of the college.