Students that passed up on the opportunity to take a gap year walked away because they simply thought it was too expensive or impossible to earn enough money to finance a gap year. According to the American Gap Association, an estimated $2,500,000 in grant and scholarship money was given away in 2013 for students taking a gap break. Although taking a break from school can be expensive, you can find funds or programs available at a no cost or sometimes just low enough to make your much needed break affordable. In this article I am going to show you how easy it is to finance a gap year and tap into some of the money available for gap programs as well as give you some simple ideas for raising quick cash.
Financial Aid may cover the cost of gap a year
If you are eligible for financial aid, then speak to your financial aid office on how to apply for financial aid for an academic gap program. Some of the program fees can be paid for if you chose to do an academic gap break and explore a particular subject such as agriculture, humanitarian studies, language, art, among many other subjects. You need to choose from an accredited gap year program in order to qualify for financial aid funding. The American Gap Association is a good place to start your search for an accredited gap program. AGA’s accredited programs mean that the countries offering a learning or work exchange program meet AGAs high standards in academics, safety and quality. You can feel confident in not needing to worry about the environmental conditions of your stay or any safety issues. AGA can make finding an accredited program easy and further assist you with financial aid solutions.
Student loans are an option for paying for an academic gap year. Since you are borrowing money that needs to be paid back, it might be better to take a loan only if it is an opportunity to really focus on a specific study or opportunity that applies to your overall career goals. An unpaid work exchange or focus study at the United Nations for example, might be a possible reason to take out a loan. To look at loan options see studentloans.gov for complete details.
Get sponsors to help pay for a gap year
Asking sponsor to help donate to your gap year will take lots of time and planning. It’s a good idea to get the support of friends, your community, and church or from club sponsors to help you host successful fundraising events. Talk to Lions clubs, Rotary Clubs or Elks Club. Any organization or club you belong to is also the best place to ask for volunteer help or donations.
Let’s look at the two most important ways raise money for a gap break. The two sources of money available to you come through donators and sponsors. They are both different in that donors are likely to be anyone willing to actually give or donate money or goods to you. And sponsors are usually a business, clubs or organizations who will support your fundraising efforts in exchange for public exposure or advertisement. Sponsors usually want something for their generosity. So you need to put in a little more effort on your pitch and how you are going to give them the publicity they are looking for.
I have known students that were able to take a large bite out of their gap program cost and some students even had their whole gap year paid off from a little effort and imagination. They did it by getting creative with planning events that were supported by donations. They did not have to work harder at sponsorship but just created a fun event people wanted to go to. Here is a list of fun fund raising ideas that have proven to be successful in raising money.
- Mini Golf Tournament– Participants donate a flat fee for entering the tournament
- Tennis Tournament– Players donate a flat fee to play in the tournament
- Poker Night– Host this at your favorite restaurant or pub and have people make a donation to enter in the poker games or have a flat fee for buying chips.
- Bingo– Host this at your school gym and get sponsors to donate prizes
- Auction– Get family, friends and businesses to donate unwanted items or sponsored items and auction them off. Post your event in the local classified section under garage sale for a bigger crowd.
You can get organized with your auction at a site like charityauctionorganizer.com. Charity-Auction-Organizer is a fundraising online auction. It’s a lot like EBay in that you can list all of your auctioned items online and leave the bidding open for any length of time. It organizes the bidding and payments so you don’t need to invest a lot of time and best of all the basic version is free.
Now get busy creating an event that really brings people together. Try asking your school to donate their facilities. Focus on giving your donors and sponsors a fun gathering that draws a crowd. One or two really well planned events can finance your gap year abroad.
*To learn more about paying taxes on fund raising events it varies state to state please see http://fundraisetaxlaw.org