In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Park University Gilbert has added a “gap year” option for students to take unlimited online classes for a flat annual fee covering fall 2020 and spring 2021.

The annual fee of $9,000 gives a student access to more than 650 classes in 70-plus degree programs, all accredited with credits transferrable. The fee works out to less money than the university’s tuition of $427 a credit hour, or about $13,000 a year for full-time students.

“It is a really big opportunity for students to be able to take that kind of online experience without having to jump through the hoops of, ‘Am I going to attend?’” said Ben Zibers, associate vice president of the Gilbert campus.

The courses are not converted from live courses, rather built from the ground up to be presented online, according to university officials.

Students have to apply for admission to be in the program, but they can use a code, GAPYEAR, to have the application fee waived.

As for the campus, Park began opening up to employees June 15 with more coming in mid-July, when recruits will be allowed to visit by appointment, Gilbert Campus Vice President Sue Wilcox said. Student athletes will return in August. The fall semester starts Aug. 17.

Zibers said the one caveat to the dates is the university will continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as it reopens, and new guidance could affect what happens.