Frequently Asked Questions

Get (almost) all the answers to your Year On questions below.


how do i apply?

To begin, simply fill out our online registration so we can learn more about you and why you want to join Year On. It only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish!

What is the REGISTRation process like?

Unlike college applications that can be daunting and time consuming, we’ve designed our registration process to be as quick and easy as possible:
1. Complete the online registration.
2. Schedule a confirmation call with us.
3. Submit a tuition deposit and confirmation documents like a health form and participant agreement.

Is there a fee to submit the registration form?


Do I have to already be accepted to college to participate in the program?

No, you don’t have to be accepted to college to participate in Year On. The program is geared towards high school graduates who are taking time prior to starting college, but you do not need to be enrolled or accepted in college to join the program. Should you wish to apply to college during or after the program, our coaches can help you with your college application.

When do i select my explore destination?

After you've been confirmed in the program and submit your program deposit, you'll speak with a member of our program team to finalize your Explore destination.

Do you provide financial aid?

Yes, our fellows come from all types of socioeconomic backgrounds, and we aim to ensure access for all of them. To do this, we provide financial aid for families who cannot afford the full Year On tuition amount.

To apply for Year On financial aid, simply submit your FAFSA results (also called the Student Aid Report) to You can fill out the FAFSA form at We require no additional forms, which keeps the process as simple as possible.

For more information on financial aid, please review these resources.

Have International fellows participated in your programs?

We've had students from 19 different countries participate in the program, and in fact about 10% of our participants are international students.


When does Year On start? What are the program dates?
Year Experience

The Year Experience is 32 weeks long and runs once per year and begins in the fall and ends in early summer.

Dates for the 2020-21 Year On programs are as follows:

  • Explore: October 5th - December 11th, 2020
  • Focus: January 10th - March 20th, 2021
  • Launch: April 5th - June 11th, 2021
Semester Experience

The Semester Experience is 15 weeks long and runs once per year and begins in the winter and ends in late spring.

Dates for the 2021 Semester Experience are:

  • Focus: January 10th - March 20th, 2021
  • Explore: March 28th - May 1st, 2021

Visit our Admissions page for specific dates for our upcoming programs.

What if I’m starting college in January? Is there a semester-long program?

Yes! Year On has a fall and spring semester program that includes Explore and Focus, without the Launch phase. 

Do I have to participate in every phase of the program?

Yes, the Year On program is designed as a multi-phase program with each phase building on the one before.

Who is Year On for?
Where do fellows stay while in San Francisco?
What skills do fellows learn during the Focus phase?
Are fellows able to see their families during their Year On?
What happens during the Explore phase?
Are there other Explore options?


How much does the program cost?

The Year Experience costs $24,000 and the Semester Experience costs $19,000. There are additional costs to consider including travel and personal expenses. Learn more about what this includes and how you can apply for financial assistance here.

What additional costs will I need to cover?

For Explore, you will need:

  • Roundtrip travel ($300-$1,000)
  • Personal expenses
  • Extra food and spending money ($250-$300)
  • Optional travel on weekends ($200-$1,000)

For Focus, you will need:

  • Breakfast and dinner on weekdays
  • Spending money for the weekends (meals and activities)
  • Personal expenses

For Launch, you will need:

  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Personal expenses
Is there financial aid or scholarships? 

Yes, we offer financial assistance! All you have to do is send us your FAFSA form, which you can fill out at For those fellows who have not filled out the FAFSA, we will need you to fill out a personal financial statement.

Can I use disbursements from a 529 college savings plan to pay for the program?

In general, federal guidelines currently prohibit tax-free disbursements from 529 plans to pay for Year On program expenses. It’s best to consult a licensed financial planner before making any financial moves with your tax-advantaged college fund.

To learn more about Year On's financial aid process and common questions about financing gap years, read our Financial Resources Overview.
Review Financial Resources


Do you offer credit for the Year On program?

Yes, as a program accredited by the Gap Year Association participants in any of our programs can opt to receive academic credit through our partner Portland State University. For further details about how to earn academic credit with Portland State University, start with these frequently asked questions published by the Gap Year Association.

What if I’m already accepted to college? Can I still participate in the program?

Yes! Most colleges and universities have deferral policies that allow students to defer for up to one year before beginning their freshman year. Colleges recognize the benefits of taking time “on” and many are supportive and even encouraging of gap years.

Notifying your college or university is fairly simple, but the process does change depending on which institution you choose to attend. Once admitted, you can contact admissions to let them know you wish to defer your admissions. They will want to know what you are doing before you rejoin them later in the year. Email us at to get a copy of our Deferral Guide. We are always happy to provide a letter of recommendation at your institution’s request.

Program Phases and Curriculum

Explore Phase

Do I get to choose my own Explore location or does Year On choose for me?

Once you've been confirmed and have submitted your tuition deposit, you'll have a call with our program team to select your Explore location. Locations have a limited number of spots available and you'll have a higher chance of getting your preferred location if you complete your registration and deposit early.

Year On strives to give each fellow their first preference of Explore location. Explore location availability for each program and cohort are dependent on several factors:

First come, first served.
Explore locations have limited space available. Spots will be given on a first come first serve basis according to fellows who 1) confirm their enrollment by submitting the deposit, and 2) complete an onboarding call with a member of our program team.

Minimum of five fellows signed up for a particular location.
To provide the best experience for our fellows, we will only run an Explore location if at least five fellows select it. During the registration and confirmation process, we will collect fellows’ Explore location preferences and goals so that if your top choice is unavailable, we can help guide you to another location that will be a good fit and experience for you.

Current status.
We constantly monitor public health, political, economic, and natural events in our Explore locations, in cooperation with our risk management partners and resources. If we deem a location unsafe or unstable, we may remove it as an option, in which case our stakeholders will be notified of the change immediately.

what will i do on explore?

During Explore, you will volunteer with a service-focused organization for 4-6 hours a day during the week. You will live in a volunteer house with other volunteers. Throughout the week, you'll connect with your coach via video chat to discuss your weekly reflections.

Who will i be with on explore?

There will most likely be several other Year On fellows at your Explore location. While you might be volunteering at different locations, you'll live in the same volunteer house. You may also be living with other volunteers from around the world. You'll be in contact with your Community Coordinator and volunteer staff for support and meals throughout your stay.

will i have free time to explore?

In a typical year, yes - you would have plenty of free time outside of your volunteer hours for exploration.

Ready to learn more?

Tuition, program dates, and answers to all your questions