Organizations around the world have recognized the value of young people taking time off to design their own travel experiences or participate in programs that are designed with the gap year mindset.
As the trend towards taking gap years for more experiential travel consistently increases, so do the funding opportunities. You can now find scholarships and grants specifically for gap years, alongside traditional offerings for study abroad, critical language learning, and volunteering overseas.
If you've been struggling to find gap year-specific funding, here is a list of organizations and their awards that you can apply for to help fund the gap year program of your dreams.
Commonly asked gap year scholarship questions
Finding and applying for gap year scholarships can be challenging, as they are not as straightforward as traditional academic scholarships. Here are a few of the most common questions regarding scholarships for gap years.
Can you get scholarships if you take a gap year?
The short answer is yes; however, this depends on various factors. Most gap year scholarships fall under two categories; needs-based and merit-based. Whether or not you qualify for either or both of these types of scholarships depends on the individual requirements, so be sure to read closely before applying!
How do I get funding for a gap year?
Finding funding for a gap year will require a significant amount of work, and you're the only person who can make that work happen! Common forms of gap year funding include scholarships and donations. However, most gappers will require working and saving up money on their own. To maximize your ability to find funding, start planning as early as possible and apply for every scholarship and grant that you think you may qualify for.
How do I increase my chances of winning a scholarship for my gap year?
The more gap year scholarships you apply for, the more likely you will be to receive partial or full funding for your gap year. The quality of your applications, though, is just as important as the quantity. Learn how to write a fantastic scholarship application by following these 11 Secrets to Winning Scholarships tips and tricks.
Gap Year Crash Course: Scholarships & Funding
Then explore this list of open scholarships and grants:
ARCC’s Voyagers Scholarship
ARCC is committed to increasing accessibility for our programs and supporting socioeconomic diversity within our community. ARCC’s Voyagers Scholarship provides up to five scholarship opportunities per semester to students who identify within the BIPOC community. These scholarships can range anywhere from $5,000-$8,000, and also includes gear lending and mentorship support throughout the gap year experience. The Voyagers Scholarship can also be combined with ARCC Financial Aid. If you are interested in applying, please reach out to email@example.com.
ARCC Gap Financial Support
A gap year is something that we hope to make accessible for all students and ARCC works to level the playing field so that all applicants may have a successful opportunity for education, travel, growth, and self-discovery post-high school. We strive to uphold these pillars of our organization through a variety of means. Each year ARCC Gap awards financial aid to support students who would otherwise be unable to cover the full cost of tuition. Additionally, ARCC is committed to increasing accessibility for our programs and supporting socioeconomic diversity within our community. ARCC’s Voyagers Scholarship provides up to five scholarship opportunities per semester to students who identify within the BIPOC community. These scholarships can range anywhere from $5,000-$8,000, and also includes gear lending and mentorship support throughout the gap year experience. The Voyagers Scholarship can also be combined with ARCC Financial Aid
Freeman provides scholarships of up to $7,000 for undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need to study abroad in Asia. For U.S. students only.
- U.S. citizens with financial need who are currently enrolled in university
USA Gap Year Fairs $5,000 Scholarship
Share your vision and intentions for your gap time by writing your own personal gap year manifesto and let us know why you should win $5,000 towards your gap time! US residents, ages 17-20 are eligible to apply for our $5,000 gap year scholarship. Whether you're aiming for a virtual, domestic, or international gap experience, we want to help make those dreams become a reality!
Where There Be Dragons Financial Aid & 529 Funds
Where There Be Dragons offers need-based financial aid to students that demonstrate reasonable financial need and are excited to engage with communities around the world.
- Any student that demonstrates reasonable financial need
United Planet Service Scholarships
Several scholarships are available for those looking to volunteer for a short or long-term period abroad with the non-profit organization United Planet, who work with communities in over 35 countries around the world.
- Applicants must be first-time Quest participants.
- This scholarship may not be combined with any other scholarships offered by United Planet.
- You must be 16 years of age to join
Verto Opportunity Grant & Verto Scholars Award
The Verto Education Opportunity Grant ($5,000-$14,000) can reduce tuition by as much as 72%. Funding is awarded based on Expected Family Contribution (determined by the FAFSA). Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify.
The Verto Scholars Award ($5,000) is offered to incoming students based on their high school GPA. Applicants with a GPA of 3.5 or higher will automatically be given a Verto Scholars Award.
Alzar Gap Merit-Based Scholarship
Alzar Gap is offering four $3,000 scholarships for four qualified candidates applying to any of our programs. In order to be considered, candidates must submit their full applications by May 1st, 2023, and respond to two prompts about their next steps after Alzar Gap.
Omprakash Ethical Global Engagement Grants
Ethical Global Engagement Grants support travel, living, and EdGE tuition expenses for exceptional candidates. The expectation is that recipients join the Widening Circles EdGE learning community and then volunteer or intern (online or in-person) with an Omprakash Partner organization, typically for at least 3 months. These grants target different audiences and offer varying levels of support. All share the purpose of broadening access to learning opportunities within Omprakash programs and throughout the Omprakash network. The range of scholarships includes
EdGE Tuition Scholarship: EdGE Scholarships offer partial or full tuition reductions to Widening Circles EdGE participants.
EdGE Travel Grant: For those committed to volunteer for at least three months with an Omprakash partner, with grants ranging between $500 and $1,500.
Crowdfund Matching Grants: Crowdfund Matching Grants offer up to $1,500 in matching funds for EdGE students who are using the Omprakash Crowdfund platform.
- Must enroll on the EdGE learning platform
Cow House Studios Gap & Summer Scholarships
Cow House Studios offer several scholarship opportunities for both our summer program Art on the Farm and our gap year program FieldWorks. All scholarship applicants must submit a portfolio that demonstrates an advanced practice. We assess student portfolios by determining how the realization of completed artworks reflects a young artist’s curiosities, concerns, experience, and research. You can read more about these opportunities and the application process on our website.
Eva Gunther Fellowship
The Eva Gunther Foundation offers need-based fellowships to young girls in the San Francisco area who don’t have the financial ability to experience certain programs that pique their interest, such as travel programs or basketball camp.
- Ages 11-18 female who resides in the S.F. Bay Area
The Pollination Project
The Pollination Project gives $1,000 grants to "support passionate, committed people with an early-stage social change vision." Funding can be applied to travel expenses related to the execution of the project.
- Must be running an early stage social change project
Global Citizen Year Scholarships
Global Citizen Year hopes to offer more scholarships and funding to their students than any other gap year program in the world, and is dedicated to making their experiences affordable. GCY offers 30% of its participants full-tuition scholarships and 80% receive partial scholarships. Merit and need-based scholarships available.
- Must be an applicant for Global Citizen Year Fellowship
EF Gap Year Awards
EF Gap Year has awards of up to $5,000 for students in their gap year and semester-long programs. Various scholarships are available for leadership, blogging, videography, and photography. Over $50,000 of funding is available every year.
Rustic Pathways Scholarships
Every year, travel company Rustic Pathways give away $250,000 to students from across the world. Scholarships are varied and it's worth checking back in after they've been awarded as late-season scholarship redistribution -- where uncollected grants are reallocated to new applicants -- takes place a few months later. Among their scholarships, the most relevant to prospective volunteers are the following:
Service Scholarships: Available to those who have never participated on a Rustic Pathways program before, this scholarship covers most or all of the program fees for a service-learning project with the company and is available to those who demonstrate financial need.
Gap Year Scholarships: Recognizing academic merit, these scholarships are available to cover some of the fees of a one-semester gap year program with Rustic Pathways.
- Merit or financial-need based
HI USA Explore the World Scholarship Program
If you've limited experience of traveling abroad, the Hostelling International World Scholarship Program is likely right up your street. Awards of $2,000 are available to help young people from the US travel abroad and experience cross-cultural exchange. To be successful, your planned trip must have an educational or service-learning element.
- Be 18-30 years old
- Be U.S. citizens or permanent residents
- Have a demonstrated financial need
- Reside or attend school in one of the 13 metropolitan areas where HI USA has a community presence
- Be planning an upcoming international trip that involves an educational and/or volunteer service component
High Mountain Institute Award
If you’re looking at one of the four High Mountain Institute programs to Patagonia, consider applying for financial aid. Your application must include tax forms from the last two years and will be awarded based on SSS (school and student services calculator) used by National Association of Independent Schools, which HMI is apart of. In addition to tuition and other travel costs, High Mountain Institute also provides discounted gear rentals to financial aid recipients.
- Must be attending a High Mountain Institute program and demonstrate financial need
Carpe Diem Education Scholarships
Carpe Diem Education awards $30,000 annually to support diversity and inclusion in its programs. The Access Scholarship provides up to $5,000 for a gap year semester or full-year experience. The Inclusion Scholarship offers up to $2,000 for a gap year semester. The Carpe Mundi Scholarship is for Portland-based students. Grants are mostly need-based, and applications open in January.
- Must be eligible for a Federal Pell grant, must have applied/been accepted into Carpe Diem program
MASA Israel Journey Scholarship
MASA Israel Journey is funded by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel to encourage young Jewish people (ages 18 - 30) to experience the country. They provide scholarships to students on a need-basis.
- Must be a Jewish student, between the ages 18-30, without Israeli citizenship
Operation Groundswell Financial Needs Grant
For those interested in an Operation Groundswell program, consider applying for financial assistance through the Operation Groundswell Financial Needs Grant. You'll submit information about yourself, the program you want to go on, and why you need financial assistance, and the OG team will review your information to determine what financial assistance they can provide. Applications are accepted throughout the year, so be sure to apply as soon as you apply for the Operation Groundswell program you choose.
- Must be attending an Operation Groundswell program
Keep in mind that the number one thing you can do to boost your chance of receiving a scholarship is to apply to LOTS of opportunities. After all, you only need to receive one to make your gap year possible!
Read more to plan your gap year: