Gap Year Offers Gains Before College

Traditionally, students wishing to take a gap year do so after high school and before continuing with higher education, however, you can take one at any life stage. While it may not be for everyone, many students feel refreshed after a break from the education treadmill.

Gap year activities are as varied as the individuals pursuing them. You could perform conservation work Down Under, gain fluency in a foreign language, land an internship in London, or complete service work in South America. The programs don't have to be abroad; some individuals choose to stay in the U.S.

Colleges increasingly view taking a gap year in a positive light, as long as the student uses the time constructively.

Not for everyone
While a gap year offers benefits, it's not for everyone. Snags could include running out of funds, opting out of college completely, and not using the time off productively.

Working with a gap year counselor or program lets you speak with advisers and others who've completed a particular program to help avoid potential pitfalls. However, you can forego a program fee by skipping the consulting service and planning it yourself.

Gap year costs
The year averages $15,000 to $25,000, but students can tailor the costs to fit their budgets. Since you generally can apply financial aid only to formal education, students should not count on this for funding a gap year.

To fund your year, start by evaluating your budget and closing up spending leaks. If you have a job, put a certain amount of each paycheck aside for gap year spending. Setting up direct deposit at your credit union can make saving even easier. By having a certain amount of money automatically transferred to a savings account each payday, you won't be as tempted to spend what you should be saving.

Other ways to control costs include looking for programs with free room and board, fundraising, and applying for scholarships from your work, school, or local organizations.

Harvard University Credit Union is here to help with your travel expense needs. Call or stop by today.