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Deferral FAQ

Deferral policy and protocol

For first-year students

First-year students may defer their admission for one year pending the approval of the Admissions Office. Deferrals are granted from fall semester to fall semester as it is not possible for first-year students to begin in the spring. Students may take college courses during their one-year deferral, but they may not matriculate full-time to an institution and/or complete the equivalent of a full year of college coursework (approximately 24–30 credits). If the admitted students complete more than 21 credits during their deferral they will need to reapply to RISD as a transfer applicant and their admission is no longer guaranteed.

To request a deferral of admission, admitted students must first submit their nonrefundable enrollment deposit. Once submitted, admitted students should access their applicant portal and follow the prompts to defer admission. The request must include a brief statement about the student’s plans during their deferral. The request will be evaluated by the Admissions Office and the outcome of the review will be emailed to the admitted student.

Considering students should not be matriculating to another college during their deferral, our preference is to receive the deposit by the May 1 deadline. However, the deferral request can be submitted after May 1, but needs to be received before August 15. Students wishing to deposit and submit a deferral request after May 1 should submit their request to Admissions first.


For transfer students

Transfer admission is predicated on space availability by major. Consequently, the general policy is that admitted transfers are not able to defer their enrollment. This is almost always the case.

In very rare circumstances, however, admitted transfer students may be able to defer their enrollment. All transfer deferral requests should come to Admissions first. Similar to first-year students, a deposit must be paid before the request can be approved. Admitted transfer students should indicate their desired start term (spring or fall) and plans during their deferral.

All transfer deferral requests should come to Admissions first. Similar to first-year students, a deposit must be paid before the request can be approved. Admitted transfer students should indicate their desired start term (spring or fall) and plans during their deferral.

First-year deferral FAQ

How hard is it to have my enrollment deferred?

Nearly all first-year deferral requests will be approved so long as the proper protocol is followed.

Can my parents submit my deferral request?

We’d much rather hear from you, but if they must, okay. We can’t accept deferral requests from anyone other than you or the parents/guardians listed in your application.

What is the latest date I can submit my deposit and deferral request?

Deferral requests should be submitted on or before August 15. If your deposit was not submitted by May 1, you should get Admissions’ approval first and then arrange the deposit payment.

I’ve started classes at RISD and believe a deferral is in my best interest. Can I defer and what should I do?

Once you have started classes you are no longer eligible for deferral. Rather, you must request a leave of absence. More information about leave of absence policies and protocol can be found here.

If I am granted a deferral but change my mind and would like to attend RISD in the fall 2020, can I?

Possibly. When we grant a deferral we work promptly to fill the opening with another student. If there is space available when you request to revise your enrollment plans we will happily offer you a space. Requests should be sent to admissions@risd.edu.

If I end up completing the equivalent of full-time study during my deferral, am I still guaranteed admission?

No. You will need to reapply as a transfer applicant. Sorry.

How many classes can I take during my deferral?

There is no limit to the number of classes you can take during your deferral. However, if you complete more than 21 credits you would become a transfer candidate at which point you would need to reapply for admission. Please review our transfer credit policies here.

If I defer and end up making plans to attend another college instead of RISD, can I get my deposit refunded?

No, deposits are nonrefundable.

If I defer, will my financial aid carry over?

Financial aid will not automatically carry over and you will need to resubmit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CSS Profile for the new academic year by the posted deadlines. If you were eligible for need-based RISD Scholarship and your financial situation stays similar your RISD Scholarship amount will be maintained.

International deferral FAQ

As an international student, does deferring affect my ability to obtain an I-20?

RISD will not generate an I-20 for an international student who chooses to defer. We will generate and send your I-20 to you prior to the start of the Fall 2021 semester along with detailed instructions on how to obtain your student visa.

As an international student, what happens if I defer after receiving my visa?

If you defer after receiving your I-20 and F-1 student visa, RISD will change your I-20 dates in SEVIS. This means that you will not be able to travel to the U.S. under this I-20 and visa. We will generate and send your new I-20 to you with your update prior to the start of the Fall 2021 semester. You will need to reapply for an F-1 visa since visas automatically expire if you are outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months and not using it. Please note that you cannot defer after entering the U.S. The deferral process must begin prior to you traveling to the U.S.

I paid my I-901 SEVIS fee already. Would I need to pay it again?

Yes, you will need to pay your I-901 fee again if you defer after making that payment. Unfortunately, RISD does not have control of this policy.

Transfer deferral FAQ

Can I defer my admission?

Transfer admission is predicated on space availability by major. Consequently, the general policy is that admitted transfers are not able to defer their enrollment. This is almost always the case.

In very rare circumstances, however, admitted transfer students may be able to defer their enrollment. All transfer deferral requests should come to Admissions first. Similar to first-year students, a deposit must be paid before the request can be approved. Admitted transfer students should indicate their desired start term (spring or fall) and plans during their deferral.

How do I request a deferral?

All deferral requests should be emailed to admissions@risd.edu. If approved, an enrollment deposit will be required.

​COVID-19 deferral FAQ

If I start Summer Experimental and Foundation Studies (SEFS) and decide online instruction isn’t for me, can I defer my transfer admission?

If you have started Summer EFS you would need to request a leave of absence. More information can be found here.

What if I can’t can’t get my student visa in time for the start of classes?

Students who are unable to obtain their visa in time will need to defer their enrollment. We recommend keeping in touch with the Office of International Student Services and Admissions if you find yourself in this situation.

I’ve already deferred my enrollment once but I’m considering another year due to the global pandemic. Is this possible?

Yes. We will make an exception for students who have already deferred their admission once. The deposit must be paid and an updated request needs to be submitted to admissions@risd.edu.