Gap Year FAQs – Part 1

A big part of the mission of Gap Year Solutions is to raise awareness of Gap Years and help students, parents, school counselors and others understand the many benefits of taking Gap time. We thought it would be useful to share answers to some of the questions our Founder Katherine Stievater addressed during recent educational webinars.

Do most colleges allow a deferral for gap year?

Yes. Of schools responding to Gap Year Solutions’ 2018 College Attitudes survey, 94% permitted students to defer admission for a Gap Year. Since then, two of the schools that did not allow Gap Year deferrals have changed their policy and now support them. The main exception to Gap Year deferrals are the University of California schools – they require students to reapply.

Can I use funds from a 529 account to pay for a gap year program?

Possibly. Per IRS rules, 529 withdrawals can be used for expenses at an eligible postsecondary education institution. So 529 funds can be used to pay for a gap year program offered through most schools (UNC, Princeton, Florida State, Tufts, etc.) Outward Bound is an example of a program that is well known for helping its Gap Year students utilize 529 funds through its partnership with Western Colorado University. Check with Gap Year programs to see if they offer college credits through an affiliation with a college or university. Be aware that not all colleges will accept credits earned through another institution.

Can you earn college credits on a gap year program?

Related to the answer on the use of 529 funds, some Gap Year programs offer college credits through partnerships with a specific college or university. Sometimes they charge an additional fee for this. Again, it is important to check with the college to which the student has deferred admission to understand the rules for transferring these credits. Some institutions are very particular and will not allow most credits to transfer. Others are more flexible and generous with what they will bring over.

Do students re-apply to colleges during their Gap Year?

Absolutely! We’ve seen students who weren’t interested in their college options, who changed their mind about their school after deferring, or who applied to colleges without really having a good direction and needed to do it over. Students can definitely apply again during their Gap Year, and honestly usually they are more interesting candidates because of what they already did or plan to do during their Gap time.

If I’m a junior and know I want to take a Gap Year, should I apply to college in senior year?

Yes! While as we just said, it is possible and sometimes desirable to go through the college application process during your Gap Year, we strongly recommend taking a first pass at applications while still in high school. Getting your resume together, teacher recommendations, help from your school counselor and so on is all easier while you’re still a senior and everyone around you is doing it, and you’re not having to initiate and do it all on your own. If you wait until your Gap Year, that’s okay too, but you’re in a different place, you’re doing it alone, you’re a little removed from the folks at your high school. There are many valid reasons for skipping the process in senior though (or doing it again as mentioned earlier) so ultimately students should do what is right for them!

Be sure to keep an eye out for Part 2 of this FAQ, and reach out directly to with your own questions!

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