top of page

How to Defer your University Program

Updated: May 31, 2022

Thinking of applying to higher education programs now, but still want to take a gap year? This is totally possible by deferring your acceptance! This guarantees you a spot for the following year so you don’t have to worry about applying or getting accepted - you can just enjoy your gap year!

You may be wondering, how can I apply for a deferral? In today’s episode, we’ve got you covered with a guide on how to defer your acceptance, tips and tricks, and how to weigh your options in the event you can’t defer your acceptance.

Topics Discussed

  • What is a deferral and researching the deferral process at your respective institution.

  • The typical process of applying for a deferral.

  • Understanding the fine print and criteria of deferrals.

  • Effectively explaining your gap year to the University/College.

  • Weighing your options in the event your deferral application is denied.

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Connect With The Canadian Gap Year Association


Michelle Dittmer - 00:00

So you want to apply to university but still take a gap year?

Well, don't worry, that's still possible and we'll show you how in today's episode all about how to defer your university or college acceptance.

Michelle Dittmer - 01:05

So today we're talking everything about deferrals, but let's get all on the same page and start out with a very clear idea of what a deferral is, because this might be a new concept to you.

Or it might be something that you've been exploring for a while, but just weren't sure of the how to's.

So let's just jump right in and really understand what it is.

A deferral is when you have already been accepted to a college or a university or a higher Ed program, but you do not plan on attending on the expected start date, but rather you're going to delay that start date in sometime into the future.

So let's give an example.

You got accepted into the mathematics and economics program at UBC, and the offer that they've given you is for an expected start date of September 2022. Now, maybe that doesn't work for you.

You're planning a gap year, so you are going to kindly ask the university to delay the start. So you're not going to start in September 20, 2022. You're going to start in September 2023. So that process sounds pretty ideal for your gap year, right?

You're going to have a guaranteed spot already set up, and you don't have to worry about applying again or getting accepted or rejected.

You can just simply enjoy your gap year.

So for folks who know what they want to study where they want to study, this is a really great tool to explore because it gives you so much security.

And Peace of Mind, your place is secure.

Michelle Dittmer - 02:56

You know what's happening after your gap year and you don't have to go through the hassle of reapplying and worry about not getting into your program.

Now, while that's ideal for some, the deferral root is not for everyone, so if you're taking your gap year to explore and figure out what your path forward is because you don't know what you want to study or where you want to study, it might be better to just hold off on that application and apply

on your gap year after you've actually figured it out.

But that's not the focus of this podcast, so let's just assume moving forward that you want to defer.

Now, let's go through the nitty gritty here.

The first step you need to do is you need to do your research to see if your school and your program even offers the option of deferrals.

Deferrals are not universal, they're not standard across Canada, and it's up to the discretion of the individual school, and in some cases.

Michelle Dittmer - 04:02

Even the program, if they are going to offer deferrals.

Some schools are very liberal with their deferrals, and some are very, very hesitant to offer them.

So in some schools it even will vary program to program within the same institution.

So you have to do your research.

You've got to look and find out how what the exact policies are for the schools and the programs that you're interested in.

Now, the easiest, simplest way is not rocket science.

You're just going to jump into your Google search engine, type in the name of the school, and then deferral so it could be UBC deferral.

Michelle Dittmer - 04:44

Or UofT deferral, or say, St FX deferral, whatever that is.

And usually the first link is going to be the one that you're looking for, so it will actually explain what the specific school's policy is on applying and granting deferral.

So you've got to do that research.

You've got to check it out now when you look at those pages, each school will have different criteria for granting deferrals.

Some, like UBC, offers a deferral based on simply the idea that you are taking a gap year.

It's written right there on the screen, and some universities are a little bit.

Michelle Dittmer - 05:24

More restrictive like the University of Ottawa, which requires extenuating circumstances to consider any form of deferral.

Oh it really does span the entire spectrum, so that's why your research is so, so important.

So check it out, see what those websites say about deferring, and that can be really helpful for you in your decision process.

Maybe it will impact where you want to apply, or if you are even eligible to go through the rest of this process.

So very helpful to start with that research.

Now let's say ideal circumstance you found your school.

Michelle Dittmer - 06:05

You found that it does offer deferral options.

Ok, what do you do now?

Again, this is going to vary school by school, so in that research process make sure, but I wanted to give you kind of a global general idea of what this process typically looks like.

Now, I say typical because I want you to do your research, each situation is going to be a little bit, different and I want you to follow what you find online, not necessarily what I'm going to tell you, but I think giving you this overarching idea can be really, really helpful.

Michelle Dittmer - 06:42

Now you're going to apply to your school the same way you would if you were intending on attending that following September.

So just like there was no gap year on the horizon, you're going to apply to the school in your Grade 12 year.

Now obviously you're brilliant, so you're going to get accepted.

You're going to get notified by the school that you've been accepted into your program of choice for that upcoming semester, which is typically September.

Now you've done your research, so you've been accepted, and mostly you're going to have to accept your offer and pay the deposit like you were still planning to attend in September.

Now don't be scared by putting this deposit down, because usually this deposit will carry forward for the following year as well, so you're not actually going to lose that money, but it will carry forward as a deposit to the September start that you're actually going to be applying for that deferral.

Michelle Dittmer - 07:44

So it might seem counterintuitive to have to accept 1st and then apply for the deferral, but the school wants to make sure that you are committed to their institution and program first before they will allow that deferral process.

So you've accepted and you've paid your deposit, now you can apply for the deferral.

In most cases, there is some sort of form that needs to be filled out, and this is all indicated on their website and in all of their literature.

And you can, if you are unclear, you can ask the school what the process is after you have filled out after you have accepted and paid that deposit.

Some forms are super simple, they're just asking you to confirm that you want to defer and identifying that desired start date and some will request that you indicate the grounds of your deferral.

Michelle Dittmer - 08:38

So on what you are going to be doing on your deferred time now, there's several reasons for this question.

Now number one they want to make sure that you're not going to be studying anywhere else during this time. They don't want any double dipping.

They want you to be committed to their school and their program, so you can't defer and go somewhere else for a year.

They need you to say that you are not going to be studying at a higher education institute on your deferred time.

And #2 they may have some specific policies on what reasons folks are allowed to defer for. Now, most universities might not necessarily accept a form that simply states I'm taking a gap year for a qualified reason for issuing a deferral.

Michelle Dittmer - 09:33

So when you're filling out this form, make sure you have read the deferral policy and that you're providing the rationale that they are looking for.

Now I'm not saying lie, I'm saying it has to be true, but maybe there is some specific wording that will help them understand why you need this deferred time.

So again, it's important to know why you're taking a gap year, because that's the rationale you can provide to the school.

So what I mean is, instead of just claiming to take a gap year and hoping that they will understand what that means, you have to explain the reasons why you are taking your gap here. Maybe it's to improve your mental health.

Maybe there is a financial need there and you need to work to earn money.

Michelle Dittmer - 10:21

Maybe it's that you don't feel mature enough or ready for post-secondary education and maybe you have a family member that's ill you have to take care of.

Maybe you want to start a business. Be honest about the reasons for needing the time before school.

These universities and colleges want you to be successful at their institution, and if you need more time before entering in, and that time is going to make you a successful student for them, a successful alum for them, then it's in both of your favors for them to grant you this deferral.

So fill out the application honestly, but write it through the lens of what you need to be successful as a student at that institution, because that's really what they are hoping is.

That time will be used purposely, productively to help you get set up so that you are better ready to tackle the whole experience of higher education.

Michelle Dittmer - 11:24

So you filled out your form. You've done an expert job at it. You send it into the school.

Now, the rest your fate is out of your hands. The school is going to review your deferral application and get back to you with their decision.

Again, out of your hands, you've done all you can do you to this point.

Now you just sit and wait to hear if they approve it, wonderful.

Michelle Dittmer - 11:49

You are all set and there's going to be a series of papers you need to fill out things you need to sign. Life is good. You could now sit back, relax and enjoy your gap year.

But before you go too much further, I'm going to put a little asterisk here.

Read the fine print on all of the terms and conditions of your deferral.

So like we were just talking about, most schools have a policy that you cannot attend another credit granting post secondary institution.

So reading the fine print will help you to design your gap year so that you don't inadvertently void your deferral.

Michelle Dittmer - 12:31

And you're not going to do it on purpose, but by mistake.

If you don't read that fine print, you could void that deferral.

So read the fine print, put any important dates into your calendar, like when you need to confirm that you're returning any info sessions you need to attend, put them right into your calendar so that when you are on your gap year, you're not going to forget any of those important pieces.

So let's say the flip side is they come back and they've rejected your application for a deferral.

That you have some decisions, decisions to make.

You can try to appeal the decision and ask them to reevaluate by providing some additional rationale, but unless your circumstances have changed, it's highly unlikely that they are going to reverse their decision.

So now you have a decision in front of you, you can choose to attend school in September and forgo your gap year.

Michelle Dittmer - 13:34

Or perhaps here's a little hack.

Or you have your gap year after first year.

Just a little FYI, you can ask for a leave anytime from your studies, so your gap year could even come mid undergrad.

So your gap year can come just one year later, and if you are an officially a student of that school and you've got some courses and credits under your belt, you can ask for that leave and they will keep you enrolled until after your mid university gap year.

So that's option one go to school.

Maybe have your gap year after first year and just suck it up and that's the way that you're going to roll.

Or you have a second option you can then.

Michelle Dittmer - 14:20

Decline the offer from the school and carry on with your gap year.

Now there is no penalty for this.

They're not going to not let you in the following year.

They're not going to penalize for that for you.

The only penalty will be that you will likely lose that deposit that you put down on your spot, so it's a financial decision for you.

But if the gap year is significantly important to you, then maybe you're just going to have to forego that deposit.

To experience your gap year.

Michelle Dittmer - 14:54

Now this is a decision that you're going to have to make with your family and really decide what's best for you.

You'll have to have some really good conversations.

Look at the pros and cons, and then make that decision and move forward with it.

Whoa, that's a lot.

Now I'm going to give you a couple other things that you should pay attention to.

Or you should know about the deferral policies.

Number one.

Michelle Dittmer - 15:21

The deadline for applying for deferrals is usually much later than most people expect.

Usually, it's sometime around Midsummer, so you have lots and lots of time to explore this option.

You might have heard from your school in February or March, or all the way up to May, but you still have up until the middle of summer.

Sometimes it's August, sometimes it's the end of July to actually apply for a deferral so you can get really.

Deep into thinking and deciding if that's what you want to do.

Other things you should know is you're likely going to have to defer your resident spot, which is usually not a problem, but there'll be some additional forms and work to be done on your part, so just be ready for that and the same thing goes for entrance scholarships.

There might be some additional paperwork, but usually these do get carried forward to the following year, so I also want you to keep in mind that you if you have been granted.

Michelle Dittmer - 16:25

Other scholarships that don't come from the university or are not just the general entrance scholarships.

Make sure you check and read what the conditions of those scholarships are.

Again, we're back to that fine print.

Take a read.

Some scholarships.

Stipulate that you need to be moving directly from grade 12 into post secondary studies.

So I gap year could actually jeopardize your scholarship.

Michelle Dittmer - 16:54

So read the fine print.

I can't say that enough now.

If it does stipulate that you do have to be going directly from grade 12 into post secondary, I would reach out to the scholarship granter and make a case for yourself as to why you will be an even better scholarship ambassador because of your gap year and request that they defer the scholarship.

The worst thing they can say is no.

But they might say yes, so it is definitely worth a try and hopefully we can see some policy change around this, because gap years actually increase your ability to be successful in your ability to network and become an incredible scholarship ambassador.

Now here is an important thing to think about.

If you are relying on scholarship funds to pay for your education, make sure you do some math here.

Michelle Dittmer - 17:52

Make sure you balance out the value of the scholarship versus what you could earn.

If you're taking a working gap year.

It might seem very difficult to turn down what looks like free money, but it might actually not put you in a better financial situation.

So let's say a scholarship was $5000.

That's a lot of money.

But if you lost that $5000 and you chose to take a gap year instead, even if you work just 20 hours a week at $14.00 an hour, you could earn $14,000.

That's almost triple the amount of that scholarship.

Michelle Dittmer - 18:36

So take the time, do the math, weigh your options, and make the best financial decision for you and your family.

Now, if you have a $100,000 scholarship.

That's a different story, but look at the numbers and see what makes sense.

No matter what, no matter what your situation is, if you're considering a gap year, it is well worth exploring the possibility of deferring and acceptance.

Make sure you do your own research for your specific school and circumstances, but if you need any additional support in the process, feel free to book a free call with us and we can help you.

Whether that's writing a letter, saying what you're going to get up to on your gap year, getting you registered.

In a planning program that we have so that you can actually answer those questions on the deferral application, whatever it is, we are here to support you.

Michelle Dittmer - 19:36

We have a great download.

I'm going to link to in the show notes.

That's going to go over all of the things that we covered in this podcast, so check that out as well.

And last of all, good luck with the million in one decisions that go into your steps beyond high school.

And remember that the Canadian Gap Year Association is here to help you, no matter where you are on that journey and what your next steps might look like.

So until next time my friends keep on adventuring.

867 views0 comments
bottom of page