Advising

Leave of Absence & Withdrawal

From time to time circumstances might compel students in the College to interrupt their enrollment. These breaks in enrollment are formally recognized as leaves of absence (LOA). A leave of absence might be voluntary or involuntary, might occur while a student is in good standing or on academic probation, and might be associated with a medical condition. Students planning any leave should promptly consult with their College adviser and also arrange to meet with one of the deans in the Office of the Dean of Students in the College. See Requesting a Leave of Absence or Withdrawal.

When taking a leave, students are advised of the conditions under which they might resume their studies in the College at a future date. It is the College’s expectation that students will not exceed eight cumulative quarters of leave over the course of their undergraduate career, unless otherwise provided for in this policy. Normally, students who have exceeded eight quarters of approved leave will be administratively withdrawn.

Students who decide not to return to the College must formally and timely withdraw their registration. To do so, students should contact the Office of the Dean of Students in the College before the end of the first week of the quarter the withdrawal is to begin. At the time of withdrawal, students are advised of the conditions under which they might resume their studies in the College should they change their minds at a future date.

Students who decide to return to the College after being on leave for more than eight cumulative quarters, unless otherwise provided for in this policy, or who have been withdrawn, either voluntarily or administratively, must be approved by the Committee on the Resumption of Studies. The College is not obliged to approve a student to resume the student’s studies. Students who are allowed to resume by the College are expected to complete their studies without further interruption.

Leave status often impacts registration status in the College, and both voluntary and involuntary leaves of absence, and voluntary and administrative withdrawals of registration are described on the associated pages. Finally, this policy establishes the process for returning to the College from a leave of absence or withdrawal.

Types of Absence and Withdrawal

Students will normally receive permission to take a voluntary leave of absence for up to eight consecutive quarters or eight cumulative quarters if more than one leave is taken. In view of the nature and rigor of the academic program, it is the College’s expectation that students will not exceed eight cumulative quarters of leave over the course of their time as a program participant, unless otherwise provided for by this policy.

Students who have exceeded eight consecutive or cumulative quarters of approved leave ordinarily will be administratively withdrawn (see below) effective at the end of the eighth quarter. Petitions may be granted to extend a leave for up to 12 cumulative quarters for students fulfilling a military service requirement, religious obligations, as a reasonable accommodation for a disability, or otherwise as required by law. Students seeking an exception to the 8-quarter maximum must petition the College Dean of Students no later than the end of the eighth quarter of leave.

Students planning any leave should promptly consult with their College adviser and also arrange to meet with one of the deans in the Office of the Dean of Students in the College as soon as the need for the leave arises. For full tuition refund, a leave of absence must be arranged no later than the Friday of first week of the quarter that a student is going to be on leave. For the tuition refund schedule, visit the Office of the Bursar. Other charges (room, board, course materials, etc.) may still apply and any refunds will be prorated accordingly.

Students on financial aid should review their awards with the Office of College Aid before deciding on a leave of absence. See Financial Aid and LOA below.

Note: Students cannot resume studies in the College if they have received a bachelor’s or an advanced degree elsewhere.

Students may be granted leaves for medical reasons at any time and resumption is contingent upon the condition being resolved or managed successfully. In such cases, the Dean of Students in the College may require information from a physician or therapist attesting to the readiness of the student to successfully resume studies. In making an informed decision to allow a student to resume the student’s studies, the Dean of Students will consider germane medical and other information available, including information provided in a timely manner by the student. The student may be asked to sign a medical records release, and to authorize direct communication between the Student Health Service (SHS) Director (or designee) or Student Counseling Service (SCS) Director (or designee) and the student’s medical provider(s) regarding the circumstances and the student’s medical information, and to authorize the Director to share the substance of those communications with the Dean of Students or others, as appropriate. If a student declines to authorize communications between and among the student’s provider, the Dean of Students, and SHS or SCS Director (or their designees) and/or declines to authorize the release of germane medical records, then the Dean of Students will make the decision after considering all of the available information and will do so without the benefit of information that may be directly germane to the decision. Additional conditions may be required of the student requesting to return depending on the student’s medical condition (e.g. requirements for continued treatment, professional monitoring of the student’s condition by a local treatment team, etc.). In such cases the student will be notified of the additional requirements prior to the student’s return. Students who need a reasonable accommodation for a disability in conjunction with their return to enrollment should promptly contact Student Disability Services (SDS) and follow the required protocols.

While a leave of absence for medical reasons may be granted at any time, tuition is only fully refunded if the leave of absence is arranged either at the end of the quarter prior to the leave or by the Friday of first week of the quarter in which the leave is to begin. For the refund schedule, visit the Bursar’s Office.

Students on leave of absence for medical reasons are eligible to utilize the Student Health Service (SHS) and Student Counseling Service (SCS), and will be automatically assessed the student life fee each quarter of the leave of absence. Students who will reside more than 50 miles from campus during the leave of absence for medical reasons may request an exemption of the Student Life Fee by contacting the Office of the Dean of Students.

Students on leave who do not participate in U-SHIP at the time the leave is processed do not have access to the Student Health Service (SHS) and Student Counseling Service (SCS).

For more information on health insurance and a leave of absence see the Student Manual.

Students on financial aid should review their awards with the Office of College Aid before deciding on a leave of absence. See Financial Aid and LOA below.

If a leave of absence for medical reasons lasts more than eight quarters, the student’s status in the College will be changed to withdrawn. However, before a student is withdrawn, the Office of the Dean of Students in the College will seek input from the student to determine whether the student wishes to petition for additional quarters of leave to enable the student to resolve the medical issues in order to successfully resume studies. Petitions may be granted to extend a leave for up to 12 cumulative quarters for students as a reasonable accommodation for a disability, or otherwise as required by law. Students seeking an exception to the eight quarter maximum must petition the College Dean of Students no later than the end of the eighth quarter of leave. A student who has been withdrawn must petition the Committee for the Resumption of Studies (see below) to return to their academic program. 

Students planning any leave should consult with their College adviser and also arrange for an interview with one of the deans in the Office of the Dean of Students in the College. See Requesting a Leave of Absence or Withdrawal below.

Note: Students cannot resume studies in the College if they have received a bachelor’s or an advanced degree elsewhere.

Withdrawal—Voluntary

Students who decide not to return to the College must formally withdraw their registration. To do so, students should contact the Office of the Dean of Students in the College. Students who decide to return to the College after being withdrawn must apply to the Committee on the Resumption of Studies. The College is not obliged to approve student resumption of studies. Students who are approved to resume are expected to complete their studies without further interruption.

Students on financial aid should review their awards with the Office of College Aid before deciding to withdraw. If a student has a loan from an outside provider, they should contact their loan servicer for more information before leaving campus.

Withdrawal—Administrative

Students who have exceeded their eight quarters of approved leave, unless otherwise provided for in this policy, or who failed to meet with one of the College deans of students to formally request the leave, will be administratively withdrawn from the College and must apply to the Committee for the Resumption of Studies. The College is not obliged to approve student resumption of studies. Students who are approved to resume are expected to complete their studies without further interruption.

If you are a student who needs to interrupt or discontinue enrollment in the College, you should request a leave of absence or withdrawal by taking the following steps:

  • Discuss the implications of interrupting your enrollment with your College adviser. International students should also consult with the Office of International Affairs;
  • Schedule a leave of absence/withdrawal appointment with a dean in the Office of the Dean of Students, Harper Memorial Library Room 281, or by phoning 773-702-8627;
  • Bring a completed Request for Leave of Absence or Withdrawal form to your appointment with the dean;
  • Notify the Housing and Residential Life Office (if applicable) and prepare to remove all belongings from the residence hall (including storage areas);
  • Speak with a counselor in the Office of College Aid about the implications of a leave on current obligations and future financial aid.
  • Students on LOA who do not participate in U-SHIP at the time the leave is processed do not have access to the Student Health Service (SHS) and Student Counseling Service (SCS). For more information, see the Student Manual.

It is the College’s expectation that a student will not exceed eight cumulative quarters of leave over the course of their undergraduate career, unless otherwise provided for by this policy (see Voluntary Leave of Absence). A student who has exceeded eight quarters of approved leave will be withdrawn and must apply to the Committee on the Resumption of Studies. The College is not obliged to approve student to resume.

Note: Students cannot resume studies in the College if they have received a bachelor’s or an advanced degree elsewhere.

For students on a leave of absence, the deadline for notifying the Dean of Students in the College about resuming studies is at least six weeks prior to the start of the quarter in which the student intends to return. Students who have been on leave for more than eight quarters, unless otherwise provided for in this policy (see Voluntary Leave of Absence), or who have been withdrawn either voluntarily or administratively, must petition the Committee on the Resumption of Studies.

For students returning from a leave, notification to the Dean of Students by email is sufficient. The notification must include a statement expressing the student’s intention to return and describing the student’s activities while on leave. In cases where students are granted leaves of absence while on academic probation, the statement must also include an explanation of what conditions contributed to the academic difficulties and how the student will ensure that the same conditions will not be present upon the student’s return.

In cases where a student’s leave involves medical conditions, the resumption of studies is contingent upon the condition being resolved or managed successfully. In making an informed decision to allow a student to resume the student’s studies, the Dean of Students will consider germane medical and other information available, including information provided in a timely manner by the student. The student may be asked to sign a medical records release, and to authorize direct communication between the Student Health Service (SHS) Director (or designee) or Student Counseling Service (SCS) Director (or designee) and the student’s medical provider(s) regarding the circumstances and the student’s medical information, and to authorize the Director to share the substance of those communications with the Dean of Students or others, as appropriate. If a student declines to authorize communications between and among the student’s provider, the Dean of Students, and SCS or SCS Director (or their designees) and/or declines to authorize the release of germane medical records, then the Dean of Students will make the decision after considering all of the available information and will do so without the benefit of information that may be directly germane to the decision. Additional conditions may be required of the student requesting to return depending on the student’s medical condition (e.g. requirements for continued treatment, professional monitoring of the student’s condition by a local treatment team, etc.). In such cases the student will be notified of the additional requirements prior to the student’s return.  Students who need a reasonable accommodation for a disability in conjunction with their return to enrollment should promptly contact Student Disability Services (SDS) and follow the required protocols.

Students on leave who have pending disciplinary cases will not be permitted to resume their studies until the disciplinary case has been resolved. If the time taken to resolve the case, or any sanction imposed as part of the resolution of the disciplinary case, results in a student exceeding the maximum eight quarters of cumulative leave from the College, then the student will need to petition the Committee on the Resumption of Studies in order to return.

Students who decide not to return to the College must formally withdraw their registration. To do so, students should contact the Office of the Dean of Students in the College prior to the end of the first week of the quarter the withdrawal is to begin. At the time of withdrawal, students are advised of the conditions under which they might resume their studies in the College should they change their minds at a future date. A student who fails to timely withdraw will be administratively withdrawn.

A student who has been withdrawn either voluntarily or administratively must petition the Committee on the Resumption of Studies. The College is not obliged to approve student resumption of studies. Students who are allowed to resume are expected to complete their studies without further interruption.

Students returning from a LOA or a Withdrawal may be permitted to register for classes during the add/drop period. A resumption of studies conference with their College adviser or a dean in the Office of the Dean of Students in the College is typically required in the first week of the quarter.

Note: Students cannot resume studies in the College if they have received a bachelor’s or an advanced degree elsewhere.

The Dean of Students in the College may place a student on an involuntary leave of absence according to the policies set forth in the Student Manual. Because of the College’s unique educational environment, a student may also be placed on an involuntary leave of absence in the following cases:

  1. The student has allegedly violated a disciplinary rule of the College and the Dean of Students, in consultation with the Dean of the College, concludes that the student poses a significant risk to the safety or educational environment of the community.
  2. The student is banned from campus.
  3. The student has not registered as required at the beginning of each quarter.
  4. The student withdraws from all courses. The leave of absence will be effective immediately.
  5. The student drops below the minimum number of courses required to remain a full-time student without approval from the Dean of Students (see Registration Policies).

A student may be placed on a leave of absence from the College because of a financial or administrative restriction that is not cleared by the deadline given by the restricting office. Restrictions may result from a student’s failure to fulfill financial obligations to the University or to comply with University rules and regulations. Whenever possible, students are warned of an impending restriction and are notified when one has been imposed. Before placing the student on leave of absence, the Dean of Students will attempt to determine the circumstances preventing the student from resolving the restriction and will respond accordingly.

In order to resume studies in subsequent quarters, students need to clear the restriction with the administrative or academic office which imposed it. If a student anticipates being unable to clear the restriction in a timely manner, the student should meet with a dean in the Office of the Dean of Students in the College as soon as possible to request a voluntary leave of absence.

If a leave of absence is indicated, the student normally will be given the opportunity to take the leave of absence voluntarily. If the student declines to take a voluntary leave of absence, the Dean of Students has the authority to place the student on an involuntary leave of absence by restricting or canceling the student's existing and further registration irrespective of academic standing. When the Dean of Students mandates a leave of absence, generally such leave will be retroactive to the beginning of the quarter.

There will be no distinction made between a voluntary and an involuntary leave of absence on a student’s transcript.

When the Dean of Students decides that a leave of absence is appropriate, the decision and the conditions for resumption of studies will be communicated in writing. A student on a leave of absence no longer attends classes, participates in University programs, works a University job, or uses University facilities, must immediately vacate University housing, and may be entitled to refunds of tuition and fees. Charges for room and board will be refunded at a prorated rate (see the Office of the Bursar for more information). Ordinarily, a student placed on involuntary leave will not be allowed to resume the student’s studies until, at minimum, one quarter has passed. Any student who wishes to return to campus during the period of leave must seek advance authorization by the Dean of Students. The only exception is that the student may access the University of Chicago Medical Center for the student’s own health care treatment.

Students on financial aid should review their awards with the Office of College Aid. See Financial Aid and LOA below.

A student placed on a leave of absence will not be permitted to resume his or her studies until the Dean of Students makes a fact-specific assessment of the circumstances and concludes that the circumstances that brought about the leave no longer exists or the situation can be eliminated by reasonable modification or accommodation.

Note: Students cannot resume studies in the College if they have received a bachelor’s or an advanced degree elsewhere.

A student placed on an involuntary leave of absence may request, within fifteen days of the date of the decision, a review of the decision according to the policy presented in the Student Manual. The student must submit the request for a review of the decision and any supporting materials in writing.

If the involuntary leave results in a student exceeding the maximum eight quarters of cumulative leave from the College, unless otherwise provided for in this policy, the student will need to petition the Committee on the Resumption of Studies through the Office of the Dean of Students in the College. The College is not obliged to approve a student’s return.

Students on LOA who do not participate in U-SHIP at the time the leave is processed do not have access to the Student Health Service (SHS) and Student Counseling Service (SCS).

Students on leave of absence for medical reasons are eligible to utilize the Student Health Service (SHS) and Student Counseling Service (SCS), and will be automatically assessed the student life fee each quarter of the leave of absence. Students who will reside more than 50 miles from campus during the leave of absence for medical reasons may request an exemption of the Student Life Fee by contacting the Office of the Dean of Students.

For more information on health insurance and a leave of absence see the Student Manual.

  • Students on voluntary leave of absence do not attend classes.
  • Students on voluntary leave of absence cannot hold work-study or maintain on-campus employment.
  • Students on voluntary leave of absence cannot live in University housing. 
  • Students on voluntary leave of absence cannot participate in Recognized Student Organizations (RSO) activities that are not otherwise open to the public.
  • Athletic facilities are available to students on voluntary leave of absence for a fee. Consult with a dean in the Office of the Dean of Students during the leave of absence conference about access to athletic facilities.
  • Career Advancement resources are generally available to students on voluntary leave of absence.
  • Borrowing privileges at the library are available for a fee. Consult with a dean in the Office of the Dean of Students during the voluntary leave of absence conference about library access.
  • Students on a medical leave of absence who are enrolled in U-SHIP may access the on-campus Student Health Service (SHS) and Student Counseling Service (SCS) through the remainder of the year in which their medical leave of absence was granted (i.e., August 31st). These students will be assessed the quarterly Student Life Fee for access to these on-campus health services. For more information, see the Student Manual.
  • The USITE Computing Clusters are not available to students on LOA. Email access continues for two quarters. Computer workstations are available at the Regenstein Library to anyone with library access. After one year, all mail files, personal Web pages, and online directory data are deleted.

Students on financial aid should review their awards with the Office of College Aid before deciding on a leave of absence. If they are recipients of Federal Title IV loans, they are advised that they may use portions of their grace period if they are not enrolled for more than one quarter. A student who has exhausted their grace period and is unable to begin repayment may apply for a deferment or forbearance of payment from the Federal Student Aid Office of the Department of Education. If a student has a loan from an outside provider, they should contact their loan servicer for more information before leaving campus.

Students considering enrollment in another institution while on leave of absence should discuss their academic plans with a College adviser. The Transfer Credit page on this site provides guidelines for transferring credit back to the University. 

Students who receive financial aid from the College are eligible to request federal financial aid via a consortium agreement, when they register for classes at least half-time at another institution. Summer study and less-than-half-time study are not eligible for federal aid via a consortium agreement. See the Office of College Aid for more information. 

Note: Students cannot resume studies in the College if they have received a bachelor’s or an advanced degree elsewhere.

Students who have exceeded eight quarters of approved leave, unless otherwise provided for in this policy (see the Voluntary Leave of Absence Policy), or who have withdrawn either voluntarily or administratively are required to submit a completed petition to resume along with supporting materials no later than eight weeks prior to the start of the quarter of intended return. Please note: do not use Apple’s “Preview” application to complete this form or it may not display properly; use Acrobat software instead.

The petition will be reviewed by the Committee on the Resumption of Studies, which will exercise reasoned judgment in deciding whether the resumption of studies is appropriate. The results of the review will be timely communicated in writing to the student upon completion of the review.

The College is not obliged to approve a student to resume the student’s studies. The decision of the Committee on the Resumption of Studies is final and unreviewable.

In cases where a student’s leave involves medical conditions, the resumption of studies is contingent upon the condition being resolved or managed successfully. In order to protect the student’s privacy, the Dean of Students (or designee) will consider germane medical and other information available, including information provided in a timely manner by the student, before the petition is forwarded to the Committee on the Resumption of Studies.

Upon return, students are expected to complete the requirements for the degree without further interruption.

Students returning from withdrawal may be permitted to register for classes during the add/drop period. A resumption of studies conference with their College adviser or a dean is typically required in the first week of the quarter.

Students who intend to petition to resume their studies may also wish to: