Enrollment Deferral Policy

Cornell University broadly supports the notion of a gap year experience for students between high school and college. Successful gap year experiences start with a well-developed plan and include personal goals. We encourage students considering Cornell for their undergraduate education to apply and gain admission before requesting an enrollment deferral to participate in a gap year experience. We will ask students to submit their request and will quite often want to discuss gap year plans before granting a request.

Requests should be submitted using the Deferral Request Form on your Application Status Page.

What is a Gap Year Experience?

From the National Association of College Admissions Counseling:

  • Maybe you're tired of the academic grind. Maybe you're not sure why you're going to college or what you'll do when you get there. Maybe you yearn to explore far-away places or dig deeper into a career that interests you. If this sounds like you, perhaps now is the time to consider taking a gap year between high school and college.
  • "Taking time off before college gives you the gift of time to learn about two essential things: yourself and the world around you." Of course, if your time off consists of nothing but binging your favorite shows and eating potato chips, all you'll have at the end is a wasted year. But with research and planning, you can design a semester or year that is both a great learning experience and a lot of fun.

How do I Request a Deferred Enrollment?

Cornell University will consider enrollment deferral requests for the following reasons:

  • Military Service
  • Religious
  • International students in the process of gaining a green card (one year only)
  • Research, Work, and Internship Opportunities related to educational goals
  • Athletic Development (Recruited Athletes and other high-level/elite athletic development and training)

Cornell University rarely approves enrollment deferral requests for:

  • Financial reasons (e.g. international students denied aid; students wishing to work a year in order to pay for college)
  • Educational reasons (studying elsewhere regardless of whether or not the program includes college credit)
  • Deferral plans that are not well-developed
  • Transfer enrolling students

Cornell University supports requests to defer enrollment for one or two years. Recent examples of admitted students successfully deferring enrollment include military service, religious study and travel, cultural experiences in the United States or abroad, and research and internship experiences related to educational goals.

We will also consider gap year and deferral requests for reasons not listed that we determine qualify as extenuating or emergent.

Students admitted from the waiting list for fall semester enrollment are expected to enroll for the fall semester. Cornell will not honor requests from students admitted from the waiting list to defer enrollment to the following fall.

Cornell does not generally grant enrollment deferral requests from enrolling spring and fall transfer students.

Newly enrolling students wishing to defer enrollment for one or two years should submit an official request to Cornell Undergraduate Admissions by visiting your Application Status Page and submitting the Deferral Request Form. You can email the Director of Undergraduate Admissions if you have any questions at uao-director@cornell.edu. We may wish to discuss the request and the possibility of fulfilling enrollment deferral goals through a Cornell program.

Prior to applying for a deferral of admission, students must submit a $400 enrollment deposit to reserve a place in the class ($800 for two years).

Students admitted under the Early Decision program must submit deferral requests by March 1. Students admitted under the Regular Decision program must submit requests by June 1.