Admission to the Metamorphosis Gap Semester is need-blind, meaning that what a student is able to pay has no bearing on admissions decisions and, once a student is admitted, there is no set tuition for attendance.  Instead, after completing the admission process, our staff will meet with you to determine a financial pledge that is appropriate to your situation, while also supporting the work of the college.   

Some numbers to consider:

      • We estimate that the actual cost per student for us to stage this semester program is about $10,500
      • The cost of housing, lunches, and instructional supplies alone is about $2,500 for the semester.
      • With fundraising and other sources of income, we estimate that we will be able to meet our expenses if the average student contributes $8,500 for the semester.

These numbers and policies make the Thoreau College Metamorphosis Gap Semester once of the most financially affordable and flexible gap year programs in the country.

This pledge covers tuition, as well as housing, weekday lunches, local transportation, and instructional supplies and tools.  All books, art supplies, tools, and camping equipment are provided for all students participating in the program.  

Students are responsible for purchasing and preparing their own food for all meals other than weekday lunches during the program, although food is available for student use from the Thoreau College farm, gardens, and greenhouse and partner organizations and training in cooking, meal planning, and provisioning are incorporated into the curriculum. We estimate that students should be able to provide their own food for $250 per month here in Viroqua. Students are also responsible for having their own health insurance coverage and for arranging their own transportation to and from Viroqua.

Financial Process Summary

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!


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, we will meet with each admitted student to have an open and transparent financial conversation about the financial structure of the college and the student’s personal situation. 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.”  The financial well-being of the college is a shared practical responsbility, as well as an opporunity to reflect on the nature of our needs, wants, and goals, both at present and in the future. 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?