Problem: Post-college gap years are great opportunities for young people to pursue their passions, exercise their newly developed self-directed learning abilities, and find ways to contribute to the world. They're tough to bootstrap up, though - you've got to find ways to minimize the startup costs (in money, time, or otherwise) enough that you'll be able to gather sufficient resources to do it. A lot of folks who'd benefit from a gap year find themselves unable to take it because their dream plans don't match up with their available resources.

I was lucky enough to know I wanted to save for a gap year starting my freshman year of college, managed to work and save enough to take one, had it in mind all four years of undergrad as an option I should plan for, and... it is the best investment that I've ever made in terms of dollars-to-magnitude-of-life-changing-impact. Some of my friends saw that, followed, and likewise had a phenomenal experience. What if other people were made aware of the possibility that they could do the same? How do you do that without taking away the autonomy that makes a gap year truly yours?

Proposal: A program that consists of a linked set of 4 4-year CDs (or something else that's stable with a fixed term and a guaranteed high interest rate... bonds?) into which you put $250 a month, every month, each year you are an undergraduate. That's less than $10 a day. (Perhaps you could also hook them up with jobs which they could earn and save that much doing.) Assuming that the CDs average interest rate over those 4 years beats inflation, you'll be able to draw a monthly stipend equivalent to $1000 of today's dollars for a year after you graduate while doing Whatever The Heck You Want.

What happens to the interest generated that doesn't go into beating inflation? That goes to fund the rest of the program, which provides bi-annual coaching sessions (with gap year alumni) and access to networks and directories of gap year opportunities plus a support network during the actual gap year and some followup afterwards. These networks will be open to the public, but the assumption is that people may be more willing to make a risky investment in a relatively unproven young person if there's a coaching/support network in place to raise their chances of success.

Okay. That's the idea; it's very naive. Now tell me why this won't work; I'm sure there's something missing. (Or maybe there's a better solution, too.)