Some of the most frequently asked questions about our gap programs.
Below you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our gap programs.
You should always feel free to give one of our knowledgeable EF Gap Consultants a call at 1-800-726-9746.
Please view our Interruption Policy as noted in EF Gap Year’s Terms and Conditions.
For summer 2021, we are excited to offer you our Sustainable Development in Costa Rica program, departing on July 1, 2021. This immersive, 4-week summer program is closer to home and features one destination, focusing on service learning and local sustainable development projects. You can also earn college credits!
Costa Rica is currently welcoming international visitors, and EF has already sent travelers to Costa Rica. They’ve been welcomed by local businesses and communities, and are having an amazing time.
We have developed extensive measures to promote student safety and health. From pre-departure health checks to on-program adjustments, read about the measures we’re taking on our Travel Advisories page. As the global situation continues to evolve and we get closer to departure, guidelines will be updated to reflect any on-the-ground realities of your chosen destinations, so we encourage you to check back often.
The whole point of an EF Gap experience is to learn by doing. We’ve specifically designed this program to get you out in the world, so that you can experience other cultures, people, and ideas firsthand. That said, part of your Language Study module will take place in a teacher-led classroom—though the focus is still very much on active learning. You will also attend select seminars and workshops at the EF Leadership Academy on an academic campus. But this will actually give you a terrific glimpse into college life!
We try to make our gap programs as all-inclusive as possible by including as much as possible in the program fee—flights, transportation, accommodation, select meals, activities and excursions, mentorship, and global support. Note that most other similarly priced program do not include return travel to your study locations. Given that you may well visit ten or more countries during a typical EF Gap Year or Gap Semester, we are confident our program offers you exceptional value.
Many of your program modules will take place in WiFi environments: Orientation, Language Study at your chosen EF International Language Campus, your Internship workplace, EF Leadership Academy and Wrap-up.
Most of the hotels and hostels on your cultural Immersions in Europe, Australia and New Zealand will also offer WiFi (either free or at a reasonable cost).
Note that in some Service Learning locations WiFi may not be as readily available.
Meal plans vary by module and location, but usually include daily breakfast and select dinners. Lunch is most often left up to you and your own expense. During your internship, you are responsible for shopping for and making all of your own meals.
Typically, the food on your meal plan is hearty and nutritious with an emphasis on local cuisine. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, have food allergies, or other special dietary needs, it’s important to make these clear in your student portal. We try our best to accommodate dietary restrictions, but your food choices are ultimately your own responsibility. Note that certain dietary restrictions may limit where you can complete your program modules.
Accommodation types vary by module and location. We always aim to provide comfortable and safe places to stay in each program module.
That might mean a hotel during immersion tours; a homestay with a host family during your Language Study; a student hostel for your Service Learning; a shared apartment for your Internship; and a campus residence at EF Leadership Academy.
You will usually share a room with twin beds with at least one other program participant. But in some locations you may also be housed with 3 students or more. In some hostels and residences, the bathroom and shower facilities are not private, but shared with other rooms in a dorm wing or house. Rooming is organized by legal gender but if you need rooming alternatives please let us know and we are happy to discuss.
During your language study, you can request to live in an international student residence, rather than host family, for a supplemental weekly fee (subject to availability).
The focus of our program is to help you become a global citizen through a broad range of experiences. We’re the only organization that prepares you for an international career with hands-on language study, service learning, internship, and leadership experience in several countries. If you just want to volunteer or work abroad for a few weeks, there are many other excellent programs specializing in these areas.
As an EF Gap Semester student, you do not have to study a language. Our program lets you customize your focus in two of your four program modules. Neither of these has to be language study. For example, you can create the following program: European Immersion, then Custom Module A, Custom Module B, then EF Leadership Academy.
We do require all EF Gap Year students who are not bilingual to begin their program with six weeks of Language Study. Your Service Learning experience in Latin America will be so much more worthwhile, for example, if you are able to communicate in Spanish. The same is true for any internships you might undertake in Berlin, Seville, Seoul, or Tokyo.
However, if you are indeed already bilingual, it may be possible to substitute the Language Study module with a double volunteer service or internship module. Ask an EF Gap Consultant for details.
Our program allows you to choose the country where you would like to partner with local communities to make an impact.
We offer service learning modules in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Peru, Tanzania, and Thailand. Our aim is to introduce you to your host country’s culture and give you a broad overview of the social and environmental challenges it faces. So the time you spend there will be a carefully curated set of experiences, led by an EF Service Learning Field Director.
You will visit several different communities, make educational visits to several social enterprises trying to make a difference, and participate in a range of service projects: empowering and educating youth; improving local supplies of food, water and shelter; preserving the surrounding natural environment; or safeguarding endangered species from extinction. We often collaborate with respected, locally based NGOs on long-term projects. That way you’re always making a real impact in ways that are the most needed.
It may be possible to earn college credit for your Internship thanks to our educational partnership with Southern New Hampshire University. Please speak with your EF Gap Consultant for details.
It is not possible to earn a wage for your internship during our program due to various international visa, taxation, and contractual restrictions. It may, however, be possible to earn college credit for your Internship thanks to our educational partnership with Southern New Hampshire University. Please speak with your EF Gap Consultant for details.
To be eligible for our program, you must be at least 18 years old by the date of departure. You must also have a high school diploma or GED. If you are under the age of 18 while you’re applying, a parent or legal guardian must co-sign all of your documents.
The pacing and physical requirements of EF Gap Year programs vary by itinerary. Certain programs require considerable physical exertion. For example, many historic sites are only accessible on foot and involve stairs, rough trails, or inclines. Service Learning may involve lifting, digging, hammering, or other strenuous physical activities and similar accessibility issues.
Overseas, internship host companies, accommodations facilities, and modes of transportation are not bound by the same accessibility laws that apply in the United States, and therefore may not be up to the same standard of accessibility.
Our philosophy is to accept as many qualified candidates as possible. Your EF Gap Consultant will work with you to determine a program that fits you, and go through the essential program requirements and travel expectations of your planned itinerary.
There are a limited number of scholarships, university-based financial aid, and private funding opportunities available to gap year students nationwide.
EF Gap Year also has up to $50,000 available in grants. You’ll find a few of these options, as well as instructions on how to apply for EF Gap Year scholarships, on our Fundraising page.
Another great resource is the Gap Year Association.
We also offer flexible payment plans allowing you to pay your program fee in installments (see below).
There are a few different payment options. You may enroll in a monthly Automatic Payment Plan, pay manually in 5 installments, or pay in full upon enrollment. Please review the Payment Plans Terms and Conditions in the Booking Conditions for further details. Your EF Gap Consultant can also walk you through these options.
You can withdraw your application on our program at any time before you are officially accepted into the program. We will simply retain your $129 Application Fee. (Please allow at least 60 days for processing.) Once you officially enroll in the program, you will thereafter be subject to our Cancellation Policy, which you can read in detail in our Booking Conditions.
EF Gap Year offers a specially-designed Global Travel Protection Plan that meets all of the program’s requirements and recommendations at a very competitive price of $800 for Gap Year and $400 for Gap Semester. This cost is not included in your base price and is non-refundable after the 10 day review period.
Note that all EF Gap Year participants are required to maintain adequate medical and accident insurance throughout the term of their program.
Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC) for all EF Gap Year Students
EF Gap Year is a 12 or 25-week experiential education program for young adults age 18 to 22. On the program, students travel to approximately 10 countries around the world while studying a foreign language, completing service projects and interning abroad.
Successful students are active experiential learners who create growth goals for themselves for enhancing their personal development and intercultural knowledge and then commit to making progress on-program through cultural immersion and hands-on learning.
The health and well-being of our students and promoting student growth are our highest priorities. Our programs can present physical and mental challenges due to their fast-paced nature which may be outside our travelers’ familiar comfort zones. This program requires students to be fully committed to and capable of working hard, taking responsibility for themselves, and working effectively within their cohort. This program is not a therapeutic or rehabilitation program (including for court mandated adjudication) and is not suitable for students that require professional help in these areas.
Successful program participants will be able to meet the Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC) for EF Gap Year programs. If you are unable to meet certain criteria, please contact us to discuss further.
Each EF Gap Year participant must be able to:
Failure to comply with this EEC may lead to disciplinary action, early dismissal or medical evacuation from the program or any combination of these. Associated costs will be borne by the program participant or their parents/guardian.
Our program is primarily designed for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact an EF Gap Year Consultant about your eligibility for the program.
U.S. citizens do not, in general, need any special visas to visit any of the European countries we offer on this program.
Based on your itinerary, however, you may need to obtain appropriate visas for countries outside of Europe to complete other modules. Your EF Gap Advisor will help guide you on the correct Visas based on your destinations.
If you do require a visa, you can apply for it in one of two ways:
Through Visa Central
Visa Central is an agency that can help you obtain any visas you will need for a reasonable service fee. One of their representatives can take you step-by-step through the application process and tell you what type of documentation the country’s embassy or consulate will need from you. Visa Central then applies for the correct type of visa you will need on your behalf. Some of the required application documentation you will need to gather up and supply Visa Central yourself. Some documentation (like your flight itinerary and letter of invitation), EF will need to supply.
Directly from the country’s nearest embassy or consulate
You can also apply for any visa(s) you will need directly from the country’s nearest embassy or consulate in the United States. Before doing so, we strongly recommend that you first contact the embassy or consulate to verify what sort of documentation they will need from you, as well the length of processing time they require. (Note that this can vary at each consolate location.) Again, some of the required application documentation you will need to gather and supply the embassy or consulate yourself. Some documentation (like your flight itinerary and letter of invitation), EF will need to supply.
Note: Not supplying the right documentation with your application can cause serious delays in processing and even result in denial of your visa application. If you have any doubts about the process of applying yourself, consider engaging Visa Central instead.
It is ultimately your responsibility to obtain any travel documents necessary to complete your program. Any fees for visas you may require are also your responsibility and are not included in your program fee.
It’s always wise to verify the entry requirements for each country of travel on your program, including any required vaccinations. For more information on countries requiring visas for U.S. persons, please refer to the U.S. Department of State website: travel.state.gov.
A great deal of your basic daily needs are covered by your program fee.
You will, however, need to budget additional spending money for some of your meals. That’s typically lunch in most Language Study and Service Learning locations, select lunches and dinners whenever you’re on an Immersion module in Europe, Australia & New Zealand, and all your meals during your Internship as you will be living on your own in an apartment with a kitchen. You should also budget for laundry, toiletries, snacks, coffee and beverages, and any other customary travel incidentals.
You’ll probably want to budget extra money for souvenirs and gifts, and any shopping you may want to do.
Once you enroll, we’ll send you detailed pre-departure information with our recommendations for how much extra money you may wish to budget for your program.
What you pack will largely depend on how you customize your experience. EF will provide you with a thorough packing list as you prepare for your program.
Whether you start in the fall or the winter, the weather can be quite variable—from hot and sunny to cool and wet—so plan to bring both summer and winter weight clothing that can be worn in layers.
If you’re studying or doing service in Latin America, you won’t want to forget to bring shorts, sturdy hiking boots, and swimwear. Gap Year students traveling to Australia in Term 2 should also remember that it will be summer at that time of year. And anyone planning an internship should pack suitable business casual office wear.
Though it is not a requirement, many students bring a laptop or tablet with them. It can be very useful for the language study module of your program.
There are no set rules. In fact, this tends to be a highly individual decision. It all depends on how independent you want your EF Gap experience to be. Most participants decide to limit contact with their families to a weekly email, Skype, or phone call. (In fact, we recommend a scheduled weekly check-in as a way of avoiding any needless worry.)
The rest of the time, our students usually try to immerse themselves in the local culture, navigate their new life on their own, and make all their own decisions.
Remember: you’re never alone. EF staff are always nearby to offer advice and support.
To get the most out of your experience, it’s always best to immerse yourself in it completely. Because of this, we recommend family and friends only visit during modules where you have free time on nights and weekends. This would be limited to Language Study and Internship. Every module of your program is thoughtfully planned to maximize the time you’re studying, serving, or interning so it’s important to plan around any required activities.
In order to avoid expensive international calling and data fees, consider either buying international plans through your carrier, or purchasing prepaid cards. EF has an international phone plan with unlimited data through T-Mobile that we can offer to our students. Ask your EF Gap Advisor for more info.