fees & financial aid


The all-inclusive cost of the Glacier Bay Year is $43,500. This includes all tuition, fees, lodging, permits, travel within the state of Alaska, and (should the student choose to pursue this option) up to a semester’s worth of college credit.

Costs that are not covered include health insurance (required for all participants), travel to and from Juneau at either end of the program, books, and suggested spending money.

Our Financial Aid Commitments:

  • We meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for all students.
  • All financial aid awards are grants – they do NOT have to be repaid.
  • The financial aid process should NOT be a barrier to entry. If you are unable to fill out the financial aid application, or if your financial aid award does not meet your family’s needs, please email laura@tidelinesinstitute.org to discuss other options.

Financial Aid

Tidelines Institute remains committed as ever to ensuring that our cohorts represent students from all walks of life. Consequently, we offer extremely generous need-based financial aid. Tidelines utilizes a system developed by School and Student Services to estimate a family’s ability to pay.

Historically, 80% of our admitted students receive financial aid. While the SSS formula also looks at family assets, students from families making under $50,000 a year are likely to qualify for 100% financial aid, including a stipend for books, travel, and other necessities.

The financial aid application is due at the same time as the Glacier Bay Year application: for early applicants, January 1st, 2023. For the general deadline, March 1st, 2023.

To Apply for Financial Aid

1. When filling out your Glacier Bay Year application, check “Yes” to answer the question “Are you applying for financial aid?”

2. By the Glacier Bay Year application deadline, complete the online financial aid application or PFS (Parents’ Financial Statement) here. In the Select Subscriber Schools section, choose “Tidelines Institute,” code 200161. The cost is $55. Families will not be charged the application fee until the PFS is complete and the fee will be waived for families with significant financial hardship.

3. Please note that we will not offer early consideration to students who submit a program application by the early deadline but who do NOT simultaneously submit a financial aid application.

4. When requested, submit a copy of your completed 2021 tax returns to laura@tidelinesinstitute.org

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if my parents are divorced?

In the case of divorce or separation, both parents complete financial statements to provide an accurate picture of family resources.

What if I have already filed the financial aid application for another school that uses the Parents’ Financial Statement (PFS)?

Please add Tidelines Institute (school code 200161) to the list of schools selected to receive your financial information. From your PFS Online Dashboard, click “Need to Make a Change to your PFS or Add a School?” and follow the instructions.

I cannot fill out the financial aid application, or I require extra time to do so. What should I do?

Please contact us at laura@tidelinesinstitute.org. We are happy to work with students and families that cannot fill out the application or require additional time.

My $55 application fee was not waived, but my family really cannot afford this expense. What should I do?

Please contact us at laura@tidelinesinstitute.org. We can help you with a fee reimbursement based on your family’s needs.

I received my financial aid award letter, but my family’s circumstances have changed, and the offer no longer meets my needs. What should I do?

Please contact us at laura@tidelinesinstitute.org. We are committed to working with families to ensure that finances are not a barrier to entry for admitted students.

Why does the Glacier Bay Year cost so much? Haven’t earlier programs been lower cost?

Tidelines Institute strives to make its open-enrollment programs accessible and affordable to all students, regardless of income level. Especially since these immersive programs are costly to run, this has meant getting pretty creative with our tuition and financial aid plans! We’ve experimented with several different models, including a flat, ultra-low tuition fee, a “pay what you can” model, and a completely free program. Each of these has had its benefits and drawbacks.

Switching to a more conventional tuition model was a difficult decision for us, so we wanted to explain why we moved away from our other models in designing the Glacier Bay Year.
  • A flat, ultra-low tuition fee – as our early programs featured – is both inequitable and financially unsustainable. For some families, the tuition was the equivalent of pocket change. For others it was punitively expensive: just one more indication of the nation’s staggering wealth inequality. Even without this social negative, tuition at such a low level would be insufficient to help support the costs of a year-long program.
  • A pay-what-you-can model is tempting but risky. This was the alternative we considered most strongly, and it is one we may return to in the future. Due to our ongoing growth as an organization, Tidelines Institute currently needs to be able to anticipate our financial position more concretely.
  • A completely free program is financially untenable and potentially inequitable for a year-long program. Though we have been able to successfully raise the funds to run an annual free program, a longer program raises the costs by 8 or 9 times: a serious challenge at a time when we’re asked to be more efficient than ever with our funds. Furthermore, donors have asked us explicitly why they should support a program that serves students who do have the resources to pay “full freight.” There is no easy answer to that question. Why should donors subsidize affluent students? As we already provide full financial aid to low- and middle-income students, adopting a tuition free model necessarily benefits only the most privileged students of all.
In adopting our new tuition model, our goals are as follows:
  • To ensure that the gap year is affordable for any admitted student.
  • To ensure that students from all income backgrounds are represented at our program. One of our guiding principles in cohort selection is ensuring that our cohorts reflect the country’s diversity along many axes, including socioeconomic status. We will use students’ financial information to make sure that this is the case.
  • To ensure that scholarship money goes to students with demonstrated financial need.
  • To ensure that tuition revenues are sufficient to support – if not fully fund – the cost of the program. We anticipate that fundraising for scholarships will continue to be an important source of revenue for the program.