Frequently Asked Questions

Get (almost) all the answers to your Year On questions—from how to apply to what you’ll do during your experience abroad.


how do i apply?

To begin, simply fill out our online application 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 application process like?

Unlike college applications that can be daunting and time consuming, we’ve designed our application process to be as quick and easy as possible—while still getting to know you! Here are the steps that you can expect:
1. Complete the online application.
2. Check your email and phone for one of our admissions representatives to reach out and schedule a quick call with you.
3. Learn if you've been admitted and accept your offer to the program.

Is there an application fee?

Nope! We do not charge a fee to apply to Year On. Simply fill out the online application and we’ll take it from there!

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 a semester 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, your coach can help you with your college application.

When do i select my explore destination?

After you've been admitted to the program and complete 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 complete the application for admission and 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 20% 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 (you’ll already be Launching into college). 

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

Yes, the Year On program is designed as a three-phase program, and you must attend all three phases. However, we do provide a Custom Explore Phase if you do not wish to participate in any of our Explore options. Simply contact us at for more information.

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 airfare ($300-$1,600)
  • Visa costs
  • Extra food and spending money ($500-$800)
  • Optional excursions on weekends ($200-$1,000)
  • Optional in-country language classes
  • Personal expenses

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 Financial Statement. Learn more here, or email us at

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

In general you won't be able to withdraw 529 funds tax-free unless they are used for qualifying expenses at a higher education institution with a federal school code. Currently, no academic credit is granted for the completion of our program, so Year On is not classified as an "eligible educational institution" under current federal definitions in the U.S Higher Education Act. Any money withdrawn from 529 plans to pay for a gap year program is not a qualified distribution. 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?

Currently Year On does not offer credit. We are working with colleges and universities to change this -- if you are enrolled in a university and are looking to earn credit, contact us at to let us know.

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 admitted and complete your program 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 application 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 serve.
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. (Selecting a preferred location on the online application is not an official confirmation of Explore location.)

Minimum 5 sign-ups.
To provide the best experience for our fellows, we will only run an Explore location if at least 5 fellows select it. During the admissions 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 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 if I want to go somewhere else for the Explore phase?

If you'd like to select a custom Explore location, please email our Admissions team at

what will i do on explore?

During Explore, you will volunteer with a local organization for 4-6 hours a day during the week doing work such as teaching English, caring for orphans, building houses, teaching sports or arts, or working in a medical clinic. 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 the country?

Yes! You'll have plenty of free time outside of your volunteer hours. Evenings and weekends will usually be completely free for you to explore your surroundings. Get outside, meet new people, discover new places, have fun, be safe, and learn a lot!

Ready to learn more?

Tuition, program dates, and answers to all your questions