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How does a gap year affect scholarships?

This week I got the same question from two different people: "What happens if my son/daughter takes a gap year after Grade 12? How does it affect scholarships?" I'm a big supporter of gap years. I think a meaningful gap year is a great choice for some students. But, like many things related to university admission and scholarships, there is no quick and easy answer to this question. I guess the answer is "it depends". As with most admission and scholarship decisions, each university determines its own policies and processes, and this includes policy on students who take a gap year. So it's vital that your student inquires with each of the institutions they are considering, and request their policy for students who take a gap year. It's also critical that they understand the terms of the policy if they should decide to engage in any kind of educational pursuits while on their gap year. Taking part in any kind of formal education (academic upgrading, college courses, online courses) could make any kind of policy null and void, and put both scholarships and admission into jeopardy.

For scholarships offered by external funders (those external to the university, e.g. employers, community groups, foundations, etc.), taking a gap year doesn't exempt students from scholarships uniformly speaking. It is the funder who decides which students are eligible for their awards, and each one of the funders is different. Therefore, you must read the requirements very carefully to determine if you are eligible. If there is no information that specifically addresses students who take a gap year, contact the funder directly to inquire. Please watch my short video for more information on what you need to know about a gap year:

I hope this information is helpful.

If you want help to find and/and apply for scholarships, please see my services page.

And if you want to learn how to make the most of a meaningful gap year, please check out Canadian Gap Year Association, and Discover Year.

Best wishes!

About the author

Janet MacDonald is a Scholarship Coach with mycampusGPS Education Consulting. She is a former Canadian university admissions officer. For seven years, she was the coordinator of a scholarship program at a major Canadian university. Janet has helped her student clients win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

You can find her online at, and on LinkedIn.

Learn more about Janet MacDonald by visiting the About Page.

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