Why a gap year is different now
May 1st decision day has come and gone for some schools; however, many others have extended their deadline to June 1st or later. Despite the extension, some high school seniors are faced with the decision of basing their college decision off of solely an online tour if they were unable to visit campuses prior to the virus. While the idea of a gap year has always been an opportunity on the table, more students than ever before are considering exploring this option as an alternative in the wake of the Coronavirus. Is a gap year the right option for your child?
The gap year process involves a student receiving acceptance from a university and paying the deposit with a request to defer enrollment for one year. In effect, the school is holding the student’s spot in next year’s incoming freshman class after the student pays the deposit.
So what’s the buzz on gap years all about?
- Find a calling – It can be an opportunity for your child to take a year to get real workforce or volunteering experience. Others use the year to learn more about themselves, and ultimately guide their proposed choice of a college major
- Unsure college is the right fit – Instead of going to college to be debt ridden just to find a future outside of a proposed major, it can be a way to cut costs as a shortcut to a career in a field such as a trade
- Now more than ever – There is so much uncertainty on the timetable of the virus. Is it worth it to pay $40k per year for zoom classes if schools continue online in the fall?
But you must also consider…
- Getting back into a rhythm – This 12 month hiatus from papers and exams can make adjusting back to academics a challenge. For those that are unmotivated, they may choose to not go back to school
- It’s probably best not treated as a vacation – Some take it to be a year of traveling. However, students with the most enriching experiences use it for work or volunteer experience
- It is likely to be more expensive – Outside of the path of a paid internship or work experience, the volunteer and travel path can tack on thousands of dollars to the debt of a student prior to starting college
It is important to know that those students taking a gap year will have to refile the FAFSA in the fall for an adjusted financial aid package in the spring. This can have a significant impact for students with siblings who will be attending college on overlapping years. Outside of a gap year, alternative options are available as well. For families looking for ways to save financially, having your student enroll at a community college for online classes may be a great strategy. From there, they can transfer in to their top choice college once campuses reopen.
The gap year is a strategy that may make sense for your child given the appropriate circumstances. If you have questions on the topic, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help!
All the best,
Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) is a Registered Investment Advisor. Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) provides this blog for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, tax, or legal advice. FPS only renders personalized advice to each client. Information herein includes opinions and source information that is believed to be reliable. However, such information may not be independently verified by FPS. Please see important disclosures link at the bottom of this page.
“Does Taking a Gap Year Increase the Ceiling for Students?” Blog, 23 June 2017,