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8 Tips for An Affordable Gap Year

Funding a gap year doesn’t have to be stressful if you get creative. Here are eight ways to make your gap year more affordable.

1. Earn as much as possible

Knowing adventure awaits, pad your bank account as much as possible with extra hours, odd jobs, and freelancing, or consider a gap year program that includes employment.

2. Work the dollar

The dollar can go far in countries in South East Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe. Plan your trip where you’ll get the most bang for the U.S. buck.

3. Seek out grants and charities

Many organizations such as Rotary Club, Lions Club International, and local woman’s and religious groups will award grants to students who meet specific criteria and support project goals.

4. Personal fundraising

Instead of a new laptop or cell phone, request monetary donations to support your trip. FundMyTravel and KickStarter are great resources to raise funds.

5. Scholarships

Gap Year Association offers a list of scholarships to earn based on merit, need, program-specific, or work-study for such industries as videography, medicine, or environmental issues.

6. 529 funds

College savings funds, also called 529 plans, can be used toward a gap year. However, earning college credit is required and not all programs have the ability to offer credit. According to Gap Year Association, the credits should support the experience (minimizing classroom time) and the student should be aware that earning college credit isn’t a guarantee to transfer; students should contact their receiving colleges to verify.

7. Stipends

Some programs offer stipends to take the financial edge off of young students. City Year, a program of Americorps, offers participants a modest living allowance, health insurance, and access to the Segal Education Award upon completion (valued at $5,920) which can go toward pursuing further education or to pay off existing, qualified student loans.

8. Get frugal

Do you have friends that live abroad and may have a guest room? Can you sell your car for a year to save on expenses and insurance? Do you really need that frappuccino? Get creative about saving money both before and during your trip.

Whitney Fleming is a freelance writer, social media consultant and blogger. She is the mom to three teen daughters and resides in the suburbs of Chicago. 

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