1. Apply and be accepted to the program

2. Review program budget and philosophy with Thoreau College staff member

3. Create an individual financial pledge based on your ability to contribute

4. Create a payment plan, such as up-front payment, monthly installment, etc.

5. Come to Thoreau College!


The baseline program cost for the Thoreau College Metamorphosis Year is $16,000. This covers tuition, food, housing, books, tools, supplies, and local transportation for the nine months of the program. Financial assistance is available on an individual basis according the process outlined above, including flexible payment plans.  The baseline cost does not include transportation to/from Wisconsin or medical insurance (which is required to participate).


Thoreau College is strongly committed to making our programs accessible to all admitted students with a sincere desire to participate in the program. After an offer of admission has been made, Thoreau College will meet with each admitted student to have an extended conversation, one that seeks to reconcile the student’s personal situation with the financial structure and needs of the college. Student and college will then decide upon a reasonable financial pledge. Our goal is accessibility — we would like for potential students to consider our educational project as realizable for them as Thoreau’s own humble experiment in deliberate living at Walden Pond.

This approach is in line with Thoreau College’s core philosophy. Thoreau himself was a man wary of those institutions that “get up a subscription of dollars and cents,” where students “play life, or study it merely, while the community supports them at this expensive game.” Thoreau College then, even at the level of housing and food, is a part of and contributor to its community. Students will be asked to give back in various, non-monetary ways: in the care they bring to upkeep of college-owned accommodations; in, for example, working at a community hunger organization that provides their household with produce; or by helping out in the kitchen at the community space where meals are held. Our ideal is that students have the freedom to think about their financial pledge in a karmic, and not economic, sense: what kind of gift am I receiving, and how can I in turn give back?

Thoreau College’s admission process is need-blind, meaning that what students are able to pay has no bearing on decision-making.

Note: Applications for the 2022-2023 Metamorphosis Year are now closed.