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    What Is Deferred Enrollment?

    By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

    Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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    Reviewed by Bill Jack

    Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: October 10th, 2023
    What Is Deferred Enrollment?

    If you are currently applying to colleges but are unsure whether you want to jump straight into your higher education, you may be considering the option of deferred enrollment. Deferred enrollment essentially saves your spot at a university while you take time off before enrolling. It’s a great option for anyone looking to take a gap year before school.

    In this article, we’ll give a breakdown of the technicalities of deferred enrollment and what to consider before doing it. Let’s dive in!

    What does deferred enrollment mean?

    Deferred enrollment allows a student who has been accepted by a school to delay their enrollment for a certain period of time. So, they reserve their spot at the school and will not have to apply again when they decide to begin their education. This is a great solution for students who want to do a gap year program or take time off for any other reason.

    Even if students know early on that they’d like to take time off between high school and college, it’s common to apply to colleges during their senior year with the plan to defer enrollment. This is because everything is still fresh in their minds and they have the support of their high school counselors. It also allows you to focus on yourself during your gap year and not have to worry about applications.

    Also see: Top 10 gap year programs

    Do all colleges offer deferred enrollment?

    In the vast majority of cases, colleges will allow students to defer their enrollment. You’ll have to reach out to your college after your acceptance to confirm that you can defer, but schools are almost always accommodating.

    Can a college rescind my acceptance if I defer enrollment?

    Asking a college to defer your enrollment should never be grounds for rescinding your admittance. You can ask with confidence that your request will not lead to a college rescinding your offer. However, if the college does not approve your request, you might compromise your admittance if you do decide to take the year off.

    Also see: Do colleges look at senior year?

    Can I defer enrollment for multiple years?

    Most people who defer their enrollment do so for a period between one semester and one year. That being said, some students have deferred for two years. You can always request a two-year deferral and see what the college says. If you have a specific two-year program you want to complete, or if you have health problems or a family matter to take care of, they will probably be more likely to approve your deferral.

    Also see: How to pay for a gap year

    Will my financial aid package remain the same?

    If you defer your admittance, your financial aid package has the potential to change when you do enroll. Financial aid is always based on your financial data from two years previous. You’ll have to submit the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile again when you do enroll, and the school will calculate your package based off of this data. If you or your family’s income and/or assets increase significantly, you will probably receive less aid. Likewise, if they fall significantly, you will probably receive more aid.

    If you received merit aid, you should be sure to reach out to your school’s admissions and/or financial aid office to ensure that your merit aid will not be impacted by deferring your enrollment.

    Are there any downsides to deferred enrollment?

    As mentioned above, deferred enrollment has the potential to change your financial aid if your family’s situation changes. This creates a certain amount of uncertainty. However, regardless of whether you take a year off, you will have to resubmit the FAFSA and CSS every year, so any changes in your financial status would come around to impact your aid either way.

    Another thing to consider before deferring enrollment is its social implications. You might feel disconnected from your peers as they all go off to college together. You might also feel uncomfortable with being a year older than your peers when you do begin college. However, these are all very surmountable challenges, and the wisdom imparted by a valuable gap year can far outweigh them.

    Do I have to pay a deposit to get deferred enrollment?

    Typically, colleges require an enrollment deposit for any student who wants to enroll. This usually ranges somewhere between $100 and $1,000. The fee should be the same for students who are attending in the fall and those who are deferring their enrollment. Oftentimes, it will go towards your tuition payments when you do pay your tuition, so it is not an additional cost. Other times, schools will treat it as its own individual fee.

    As always, be sure to check in with your school about this as it may change on a case-by-case basis!

    When do I have to tell my school that I am deferring enrollment?

    Most schools do not have a set date by which you need to notify them of deferred enrollment. As a general rule, the earlier, the better. This gives the school time to pull students off the waitlist to fill your spot for that year.

    If you are considering deferring enrollment but are worried it is too late, don’t hesitate to reach out to the admissions office. You can tell them you are considering the option and want to know if you are too late. They will be happy to give an answer and if you decide against deferment, your question will not affect your enrollment status.

    Can I defer my enrollment if I am accepted off the waitlist?

    Let’s say you were initially waitlisted by your college and they end up offering you a spot. In cases such as these, you may be more hesitant to request deferral. Schools are known to be less accommodating to gap years and deferred enrollment for students accepted off the waitlist. This is because they are looking to fill open spots for that year. There is no hard-and-fast rule for the situation, but it’s worth noting that it could play a role in your college’s reaction.

    Do I have to pay my tuition if I am deferring my enrollment?

    At most schools, you will not have to pay any tuition until the semester approaches when you actually start classes. You’ll usually only have to pay your enrollment deposit. But as always, this can change on a case-by-case basis, so be sure to ask your admissions office when you notify them of your decision. While taking yoru gap year, take the time to apply for all the scholarships you qualify for so you can take fewer loans on your educational journey! 

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    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Deferring enrollment allows you to save a spot at the college that accepted you while taking a period of time off of school
    • You typically have to pay an enrollment deposit to do so, but this will count towards the required deposit that you would have had to pay when you begin courses
    • Your financial aid package will be based off of the FAFSA and/or CSS you fill out the following year

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