Does Taking A Semester Off Affect FAFSA?

Sometimes, college life becomes overwhelming for students. When this becomes a problem, they might need some time away from the stress to reset and get back in the right state of mind to continue. Or, they might have other personal reasons for wanting to take time off from college. Let us know about, Does Taking A Semester Off Affect FAFSA

Does Taking A Semester Off Affect FAFSA?

You need to be careful of your decision to take a semester off because it can affect the financial assistance you get in school from scholarships and student loans. So if you plan on going away for a semester, you have to take steps to ensure it does not have a bad effect on you financially. 

Does Taking A Semester Off Affect FAFSA? 

Why Do College Students Take Semesters Off?

Some of the reasons for taking time away from school are:

Financial Problems

The cost of living in college can be difficult to handle. Sometimes, a student might not have enough money to pay bills and fees. In addition, they may not have financial aid or a scholarship, probably because they failed a class previously. The burden on the student can make them decide to take a semester off and try to get on their feet before they can return to schooling.

Health Issues

Some students might be hospitalized or have health problems that prevent them from enrolling for a semester. This could also be a reason why they take time away from college.


Unprecedented circumstances can affect a student’s life, affecting their college life. They may need to take a semester off. Family emergencies or tragedies could be circumstances that affect a student’s decision to take a semester off.

Entrepreneurial/Business Reasons

A student might have thoughts of starting a business or chasing another career, making them put their current degree on hold to pursue those dreams.


Some people might want time away from college to have the freedom to travel. It could be for business, family, or personal desire to explore and experience new cultures.

How Taking a Semester Off Affect Your FAFSA?

Losing financial aid is one of the risks associated with taking breaks from college. Most financial assistance given to students won’t continue during the student’s absence. This is why planning your finances before taking a break is important.

For student loans, you will get a period of grace to repay the money you borrowed. However, the grace period usually resets, and you continue to benefit from the loans if you return to school before the time elapses. Suppose you cannot repay the loans after the grace period ends. In that case, you can apply for deferment or forbearance to postpone your payment.

For scholarships, it will depend on the giver. Most times, the student’s scholarship is canceled when they take a semester off because it’s usually not allowed.

Regardless of whether it’s a loan, scholarship, or grant, you will have to reapply for financial-aid after returning from your time off, as you won’t get assistance based on your old terms. Taking a semester off from college might affect your chances of getting another financial aid in the future.

Things You Should Consider

Taking a semester off is a huge deal. But, on the other hand, it’s probably not ideal to do it because school is “too hard” for you. So you have to evaluate yourself to understand why you should or shouldn’t take a semester off.

There are some things you should consider before taking a break.

  1. The first thing to consider is time. You need to understand if it’s difficult for you to find time for college and the reasons. 
  2. You should also consider your mental state and if the problems you are facing are more important than college.
  3. You’ll also need to consider the importance of your college degree and evaluate if the career you wish to pursue needs a degree. 
  4. You should also be sure that you can handle the financial burden of taking a semester off from college.

Steps to Take After Deciding to Take a Semester Off

You will need to prepare adequately and plan for your time away from college before it starts. It is important to understand your true reasons for taking a break and outline what you need to do to achieve your goals. You should also talk to your counselors, friends, and family and get advice from them. Then think about how you will manage your finances when you don’t have financial aid anymore. You should also make plans for returning to school after your semester off is over.

Planning is important because you know what you’ll be doing during your time away from college. A whole semester means you’ll have a lot of time on your hands, so it’s important to use that time to pursue those goals you set for yourself. Also, if you can, travel, try new things, and meet new people. Finally, do fun things and relax so you can clear your head and regain focus before returning to college.

However, you might also realize that college wasn’t right for you while you’re away. It is not advisable to drop out of college, but it is ultimately up to you to decide the best step to take. Suppose you’ve discovered that your field doesn’t need a degree and would like to further your career. In that case, you can also take steps towards achieving that by volunteering, interning, or trying to find jobs that will help you get experience.


It’s completely okay to want to take a semester off from college if you have your reasons. It might be just the right thing you need in your life at that moment. However, understanding the consequences of your decision is also important. You will need to be intentional about what you aim to achieve and set goals for yourself, making sure you achieve whatever purpose you set out for when you decide to take a break.

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Am I still enrolled if I take a semester off?

You will not be enrolled for the semester you’re taking off. However, it does not mean that you are no longer a student at that university.

  1. How long can I take off from college?

You can take as much time as you want, but you should understand that the more time you take off, the longer you’ll have to wait to get your degree. Also, you might need to retake classes you’ve already done, so it’s not advisable to take too much time off from school if you want to be done as quickly as possible.