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Deferral of Enrollment/Gap Year

While nearly all students apply to Lehigh with the intention to enroll in the fall semester immediately following their high school graduation, some admitted students, however, choose to delay their enrollment through a deferral (also known as a “gap year”) in order to pursue unique passions or interests, experiential learning opportunities, travel to other countries, or engage in work or volunteer experiences. Students that have deferred their entry tell us that these meaningful activities allowed them to begin at Lehigh more prepared for the challenges of college and with a broader perspective. Gap periods are typically one year, but approval may be given for shorter or longer durations, depending on the reason for the request and proposed activities during the deferral.

Lehigh is supportive of these endeavors, but requires students to request, be approved for, and complete the deferred enrollment process to hold their space in the future entering class.

Requesting to Defer Enrollment

Students requesting a deferral prior to their deposit deadline are encouraged to submit the request as soon as possible following the notice of admission and/or submission of an initial enrollment deposit through the portal. Requests submitted fewer than three days before the deposit deadline may not receive a response by that deadline, and extensions will not be granted based on a deferral request. Deferral requests submitted after the applicable deposit deadline will only be considered from students who have already paid the deposit or been formally granted a deposit waiver.

  1. Students interested in deferring enrollment should first submit their $500 non-refundable enrollment deposit by the deadline according to their admissions plan, or follow instructions in their portal to confirm enrollment using a deposit waiver. A place in the class is not held until a deposit is received, though a deferral request can be made before submitting a deposit.

  2. Then, the student should email their regional admissions officer or directly to the Admissions Office at to request for a Deferral Request Form, which will then be emailed to the student. The form includes space for a 500-word explanation for the purpose of the deferred enrollment request, and a detailed plan for how they will spend their time during the deferral. We strongly encourage students to submit their completed form by June 30, although the Admissions Office will allow students to request a deferral after July 1 on a case-by case basis.

  3. If a student’s request to defer is approved, the Admissions Office will email the student with an official approval.  An additional $1000 non-refundable deposit must be submitted through a student’s Lehigh portal either within 2 weeks of the approval process or no later than August 15 if an extension is granted.  Students that received an enrollment deposit waiver of the initial $500 deposit will also receive a waiver of the $1000 deferral deposit.

Important Factors to Consider in Deferred Enrollment

  • The intent of a deferral of enrollment is to engage in a unique opportunity wholly outside of an academic setting (travel, work experience, etc.). Based on the plan presented by a student, the Office of Admissions reserves the right to deny a request to defer enrollment.
  • Students requesting deferred enrollment are prohibited from enrolling at another institution on a full-time, matriculated basis during their deferral period.
  • Students are permitted to enroll in 1-2 courses at another institution during their approved deferral period, but any proposed courses must be submitted to and approved by the Director of Admissions. Courses of this nature are usually completed at local community colleges. Ultimately, the faculty of Lehigh University are responsible for the evaluation of courses completed at other institutions to determine applicability to a student’s undergraduate degree program at Lehigh University.
  • Both enrollment deposits are non-refundable at all times.
  • A student can request to defer enrollment for a period of one semester or one year only unless extenuating circumstances are presented (e.g., military service, approved missionary experiences).
  • For students who received financial aid and have been approved for a full-year deferral, they must refile all necessary financial aid documents pertaining to the future entry term. Information regarding financial aid can be found on their website.