Gap Year and Deferrals

Below you will find eligibility and application information for Gap Year and COVID-19-related deferrals, for any other types of term changes, you must submit a change start term request.

Gap Year

PSU defines a gap year as a one-year break from formal education between completion of high school and entry to college. A gap year may be taken for a variety of reasons such as work, travel, or volunteering. Emerging research suggests that gap years can positively impact success in college. Therefore, to support students interested in a gap year, PSU will consider a one-year deferral of admission for freshmen admitted for Fall term.

There is no specific requirement for activities during a gap year, but approvals are based on the belief that this time is intended to provide you with opportunities for personal growth that will benefit your future college experience. If you are interested in organized gap year programs, we suggest exploring those accredited by the Gap Year Association.


Gap Year Deferrals are only for freshmen deferring admission from an initial fall term to the next fall term.

How to Request a Gap Year

You must request consideration by completing the following steps:

  1. Apply to PSU and be admitted as a freshman for Fall term.
  2. Submit the $200 tuition deposit to confirm your enrollment at PSU by September 1 (deadline extended for Fall 2020).
  3. Meet the eligibility requirement for a gap year: Admitted to PSU as a freshmen for Fall term. Students who earned college credit while in high school are considered freshmen for admission purposes, and, therefore, still qualify.*
  4. Review the requirements for Gap Year Deferral below.
  5. Submit the Request for Gap Year Deferral Form (requires PSU account login) by September 1. This will require you to explain your gap year plans and agree to the deferral terms. It will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee and you will receive a response within 2-3 weeks. Requests received after September 1 will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  6. Submit your final high school transcript to PSU by August 1. Approval of Gap Year Deferrals are contingent upon fulfilling all freshman admission requirements through high school graduation.
  7. Request deferral of admission to any additional departments or programs at PSU. Examples: Honors, Music, Athletics, TRiO, etc. You are responsible for contacting these departments.
  8. If your Gap Year Deferral is approved, follow up with your Admissions Counselor to ensure you have a plan for next steps such as submitting the FAFSA, applying for housing, and signing up for New Student Orientation.


  • If you are granted the opportunity to pursue a gap year, you may not earn college credit during that year. If you wish to earn credit, you will be required to reapply for admission and submit relevant transcripts. Audited or non-credit courses, as well as participation in gap year programs that result in PSU college credit (Carpe Diem Education or Verto Education), may be considered on an individual basis during requests for the gap year deferral.
  • Any PSU merit scholarships (non-need-based aid) you have earned will be deferred. Any need-based aid is awarded annually using FAFSA or ORSAA information.
  • Deferral of admission or participation in other PSU programs (Honors, Music, athletics, etc.) and Housing is not guaranteed. You are responsible for contacting these departments to notify them of your plans and request any next steps.

Correspondence from PSU will be sent by email to your email address unless otherwise noted in your Gap Year Deferral Request. If you will not have regular access to this account during your gap year, set up email forwarding to an account that you or your family can check.

If your plans to attend PSU change during your gap year, notify us as soon as you can. Please note that tuition deposits are non-refundable, even if you choose not to attend PSU after your gap year.

Deferral Related to COVID-19

Portland State recognizes that some students and families may be interested in deferring their enrollment from fall 2020 to winter, spring, or summer term.

Before applying for a deferral student should consider that grants and scholarships may not be deferred along with your start term. If eligibility for your aid program requires that you enroll at PSU in fall term (e.g. WUE, Four Years Free, and Transfers Finish Free), deferring your start term will reduce the number of academic terms during which you receive the grant or scholarship.

  • For example, a transfer student admitted to PSU with sophomore standing will be awarded WUE for three years and it is applicable during each academic term (fall, winter, spring, summer). The three-year count begins at a fall start term regardless of whether or not the student defers. When a student defers from fall to winter, they will retain the WUE benefit for 2.75 years. 

Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor to discuss deferring. Course offerings differ by academic term so it is important to take into account which courses you should take based on your academic goals. For example, some STEM sequences only begin fall term, or if they do have a winter term start, would require attendance the following summer term to complete.

Request a Deferral Related to COVID-19

  1. Apply to PSU and be admitted as a freshman for Fall term.
  2. Submit the $200 tuition deposit to confirm your enrollment at PSU by September 1 (deadline extended for Fall 2020).
  3. Submit the Change of Term form and answer yes to the question "Is your term change due to Covid19?"
  4. Send an email to explaining how COVID-19 has changed your initial plans to start during fall term.