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GAP Year

What is a gap year?

The American Gap Association defines a gap year (also known as a bridge year) as a "structured period of time when students take a break from formal education to increase self-awareness, learn from different cultures, and experiment with possible careers. Typically these are achieved by a combination of traveling, volunteering, interning, or working." A guiding principle is that the year should engage you in new, challenging experiences that encourage you to reevaluate your assumptions about yourself and the world around you. Long popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere, gap years are increasingly common among students in the United States. Tips on planning a gap year can be found here, and examples of gap year programs can be found here.

Why take a gap year?

An increasing amount of research suggests that taking a gap year before college can significantly enhance students' personal, professional, and educational growth. Moreover, research from gap year programs at other leading American universities, such as Princeton, Harvard, and Tufts, suggests that gap years can improve students' academic performance while in college. In fact, all Ivy League universities in the U.S. now endorse gap years for interested students.

How can I be approved to take a gap year?

High school seniors who have been admitted to FSU and who are interested in deferring enrollment to take a gap year must submit a short application detailing proposed plans for the gap year, learning objectives for the year, and how the gap year will support their educational goals. Gap year programs/experiences should be sustained over the majority of the gap year deferment, although the year could be composed of multiple projects.

The gap year deferment application opens in December and can be submitted anytime until May 1.

The application will be reviewed on a rolling basis by a university committee and students will be notified of their deferment status as soon as possible, and no later than the end of May.

Does FSU provide funding for students to take a gap year?

FSU is proud to be one of the few universities in the country (and the second public university) to offer financial assistance to students taking a gap year. Students applying for a gap year deferment will automatically be considered for a scholarship of up to $5,000 to support their gap year. FSU is committed to helping make the transformative opportunities afforded by a gap year accessible to students regardless of their family's income.

In addition, some gap year organizations have financial assistance available, and students have had success fundraising (e.g., through crowdfunding websites) for gap year experiences.

When would I start courses at FSU and what happens when I return from a gap year?

Students admitted for Fall semester who are approved to take a gap year would defer until the following Fall; Summer semester admits would defer until the following Summer semester. High school seniors offered admission to start at FSU in the Spring semester are not eligible for a gap year deferment.

Students undertaking a gap year will be invited to participate in structured group activities and reflection upon returning. Once matriculated at FSU, gap year students will be encouraged to build on their gap year experience and connect with the vast curricular and co-curricular programs of FSU, with assistance from offices such as the FSU Center for Leadership and Social Change and the Center for Undergraduate Research & Academic Engagement.

What other policies apply if I take a gap year?

Other requirements for students granted a deferment of matriculation:

  • Admitted students who are approved to take a gap year may not apply to any other colleges or universities during their gap year, and they must not earn college credit during the year.
  • The Office of Admissions reserves the right to review the status of any admitted student, including those on a gap year, and to rescind its offer of admission if a student's academic and personal record does not remain satisfactory in all respects.
  • Deferments granted by the FSU Office of Admissions apply to general admission to FSU only. Students also applying to special, limited access, academic programs (dance, film animation, film production, music, or theatre) would also need to coordinate a gap year deferment with their specific academic program.
  • If there are any policy changes at FSU during the period of a student's gap year, the changes will apply to the student just as they will to all a members of his/her matriculating class.
  • Florida Bright Futures funding would not apply to a gap year.
  • FSU Scholarships awarded to the student will be deferred until the student matriculates the following year.
  • Gap year students should confirm financial deferment eligibility with private or other non-FSU scholarship programs (e.g., ROTC Scholarships cannot be deferred). Gap year students should remember to apply for federal financial aid (via FAFSA) after January 1 during their gap year.

Gap year resources can be found here: