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Important Information Regarding COVID-19

See the Registrar's COVID-19 and Academic Continuity page for information for students, faculty, and staff relevant to classes and academic activities and administration. (updated August 21, 2020)

Undergraduate Leave of Absence (Academic Year 2020-21)

This page reflects policies specific to academic year 2020-21 as the University navigates the pandemic. These policies are subject to change or revision based on University guidance and decisions.


On this page: International students • DeadlinesRefundsStudent StatusSubmitting the LOA eFormFinancial Aid, Housing, Health InsuranceCotermsExtending or Returning from an LOA


Undergraduates

Effective academic year 2020-21, undergraduates are expected to enroll in three of four quarters during the academic year, with the remaining quarter considered the Flex Term. If students are unable to or elect to not enroll in three quarters, they must apply for a leave of absence for those quarter(s).

Traditionally, students are required to enroll in Autumn, Winter and Spring quarters, with Summer being an optional ('flex') quarter for enrollment.

For academic year 2020-21, students may elect to choose any one quarter as their flex term, in which a leave of absence (LOA) is not required in that term away from Stanford. Once a student has used their Flex Term, then a LOA must be submitted for any additional terms away from Stanford, or the student will be discontinued for no enrollment after the final study list deadline of the term.

Once classes begin for the quarter and a student is enrolled in classes (full-time or flex term), a leave of absence is required by students who wish to withdraw from the University for the current term.

Students who are active in multiple degree programs or majors, including coterms, must obtain approval from each degree/program department. Since leave of absence is a University status, students with multiple programs or degrees may not request a leave of absence status from only one program.

Leaves are not granted for more than one year at a time, unless there are exceptional circumstances (such as conscripted military service). A leave of absence from the University may not exceed a cumulative total of two years (eight quarters). For academic year 2020-21, a leave of absence taken in Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer quarter will not count towards the eight-quarter maximum for undergraduates. Please note: coterm LOA policies are still being finalized and will be updated shortly.

See the Stanford Bulletin for additional information:

Students should review all possible ramifications of taking a leave of absence. Students are encouraged to check with all other ap­propriate University offices (e.g., Housing Assignments, Financial Aid, Student Financial Services, Bechtel International Center, Vaden Health Center) to determine how taking a leave of absence impacts their status with these offices. Students on leave of absence are not registered and therefore do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. They cannot fulfill any official department or University requirements during the leave period.

Undergraduates who take an approved leave of absence while in good standing, and who do not have any other restrictions or conditions of enroll­ment, including Academic Standing, may enroll in the University for a subsequent quarter with the privileges of a returning student. See the “Leave of Absence” section of the Stanford Bulletin.

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Flex Term 

A leave of absence eForm is not required during a student's Flex Term. Once a student has used their flex quarter, then a LOA must be submitted for any additional terms away from Stanford.

For more information, review the Enrollment Framework and Flex Quarter summary for academic year 2020-21.

International Undergraduates

International undergraduate students are expected to enroll in three consecutive quarters during the academic year, with Summer Quarter considered the flex term. If students are unable to or elect to not enroll in three quarters, they must apply for a leave of absence for those quarter(s). Students are strongly encouraged to connect with advisors at the Bechtel International Center to discuss impacts of a leave of absence. 

Nonimmigrant students and their dependents must maintain an appropriate visa status at all times. An absence from the U.S. of five or more months will result in termination of F-1 or J-1 status. If a student remains outside the U.S. for five or more months, a new I-20 or DS-2019 is necessary for re-entry. For further information, contact Bechtel International Center.

Leaves are not granted for more than one year at a time, unless there are exceptional circumstances (such as conscripted military service). A leave of absence from the University may not exceed a cumulative total of two years (eight quarters). For academic year 2020-21, leaves of absence taken during Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer quarters will not count towards the eight quarters maximum for undergraduates.

Students who are active in multiple degree programs or majors, including coterms, must obtain approval from each degree/program department. Since leave of absence is a University status, students with multiple programs or degrees may not request a leave of absence status from only one program.

See the Stanford Bulletin for additional information: 

Undergraduate Leaves of Absence and Reinstatement

Students should review all possible ramifications of taking a leave of absence. Students are encouraged to check with all other ap­propriate University offices (e.g., Housing Assignments, Financial Aid, Student Financial Services, Bechtel International Center, Vaden Health Center) to determine how taking a leave of absence impacts their status with these offices. Students on leave of absence are not registered and therefore do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. They cannot fulfill any of­ficial department or University requirements during the leave period.

Undergraduates who take an approved leave of absence while in good standing, and who do not have any other restrictions or conditions of enroll­ment, including Academic Standing, may enroll in the University for a subsequent quarter with the privileges of a returning student. See the “Leave of Absence” section of the Stanford Bulletin.

Deadlines for filing a Leave of Absence

Before the Quarter Begins

The deadline to submit a Leave of Absence for a full refund is the Preliminary Study List deadline, the first day of classes. To ensure a full refund, submit a Leave of Absence eForm by the Preliminary Study List deadline.

During the quarter

The deadline to submit a Leave of Absence for a partial refund is the Term Withdrawal deadline (see the Academic Calendar for dates in the current year).

  • After the first day of classes, undergraduates who wish to drop all courses for which they are registered must submit a Leave of Absence eform via the eForms portal in Axess before the Final Study List deadline (the end of the third week of classes). Undergraduate Leave of Absence eForms are routed to Academic Advising; undergraduates are advised to discuss their plans with Academic Adivising.

All courses for that term are dropped if the last day of attendance is prior to the Final Study List deadline. Axess does not allow students to drop all courses themselves after the term has started. Submitting a Leave of Absence form after the Final Study List deadline results in ‘W’ notations on the transcript for all registered courses. For undergraduates, this does not relieve a student from review by the faculty Subcommittee on Academic Review.

After the Term Withdrawal deadline

After the Term Withdrawal refund deadline (60% of the quarter), a leave of absence is granted only for approved health or emergency reasons with sup­porting documentation.

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Refund Policy

Leaves of Absence Before the First Day of Classes

Students who take a leave from the University voluntarily on or before the first day of classes receive a full tuition refund. Such students are not included in University records as registered for the term.

Leave of Absence After the First Day of Classes

An active student in good standing who voluntarily takes a leave from the University after the first day of instruction, but before the Term Withdrawal deadline, receives a prorated refund. There is no refund after the Term Withdrawal deadline. Courses in which the student was enrolled after the Final Study List deadline appear on the student’s record and show the grade of ‘W’ (withdrew).

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Student Status While on Leave

Academic Status

Students on an approved leave of absence retain their admitted student status; however, they are not registered and therefore do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. Students on leave may complete course work for which an ‘Incomplete’ grade was reported in a prior term and are expected to comply with the one-year maximum time limit for resolving incompletes.

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Submitting a Leave of Absence eForm

Submit the Leave of Absence eForm in the eForms portal, available via the Axess Student Mega-menu. The eForm is electronically routed to the appropriate approvers and, if approved, is processed by the Registrar's Office. 

Students taking a voluntary leave pursuant to the involuntary leave of absence and return policy:

  • have two business day revocation period after submitting a Leave of Absence eform, and may revoke their request to take a voluntary leave by going into their submitted eform in Axess and clicking 'cancel'

  • may have additional conditions imposed by the Dean of Students and/or the Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Effective Date

Once approved, the leave of absence is effective on the date that you submitted the eForm or on the last day you attended classes, whichever is later.

Approvals

Approvals are made as the eForm is routed electronically to the relevant approving offices. Please note that students may need to consult with these offices in order to be approved for a leave.

Undergraduate eForms are routed to:

Coterm eForms, for students with both an active undergraduate and graduate program, are routed to:

  • your residence Residence Dean; off-campus students need the approval of the Off-campus Residence Dean
  • Academic Advising
  • your graduate department
  • Bechtel International Center (for international students, F-1 & J-1 visa holders, only)

Submission of Form

The form is submitted via the Student eForm platform; log in to Axess and select Student eForms from the mega menu.

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Financial Aid

Students should notify the Financial Aid Office of their intent to leave the University if they are receiving any type of aid, particularly to protect eligibility for certain programs and funds such as Cal Grants while on leave. A portion of any refund is returned to the sources of aid. Students should clear all outstanding bills with the Student Services Center before returning to campus. Undergraduate financial aid applications are due in mid-April in the year before an undergraduate plans to return. Graduate students may apply for loans four weeks before the first day of classes in the quarter in which they plan to return. See the Financial Aid website for detailed application requirements.

Loans

Students must notify all lenders of their intent to leave the University and request exit information before leaving campus (Stafford and private loans through the Financial Aid Office; Perkins and Institutional loans through Student Financial Services). Students are cautioned to consider carefully the effect of leaves on their loan status; lenders may count the leave period as part of the total grace period. Stanford will provide enrollment status to the National Student Loan Clearing House. Students who receive loan disbursements directly may be required to repay portions of their loans.

University Housing

University housing is generally not available to students on leave. Students with questions about room-and-board refunds should contact the Stanford Housing Assignment Services or the central office of the University Dining Services (for board refunds). Students with medical disabilities (including mental health disabilities) that require University medical services and students approved for the Childbirth Accommodation may petition to remain in campus housing for one term while on leave. Approval requires good academic standing, department recommendation, and no outstanding financial obligations to the University. Address questions to Housing Assignment Services.

Health Insurance

Contact Vaden Health Center for information regarding Cardinal Care coverage and/or Dependent Plan Insurance during a student leave of absence. Students can submit a ServiceNow ticket to Vaden: select "Student Health" and then "Inquire about Health Insurance/Cardinal Care". Or call 650-723-2135.

Additional information can be found on the Vaden Health Center website.

Library

Contact the Privileges Division, Green Library, to determine whether you may retain access and/or borrowing privileges while you are on leave.

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Undergraduate and Coterm with Active Undergraduate Program Procedures

  1. Submit a Leave of Absence eForm via the eForm portal available in the Axess Student Mega-menu. The form is electronically routed to the approving offices; once approved, it is forwarded to the Registrar's Office for approval.

  2. International students must discuss plans with and obtain approval from the Bechtel International Center.

  3. Discuss plans to take a leave of absence with your major advisor or undeclared advisor.

  4. Discuss plans with your Residence Dean in Residential Education.

  5. All undergraduates must discuss plans and obtain approval from Academic Advising, Sweet Hall, 1st Floor, Fax (650) 725-1436, advising@stanford.edu.

All undergraduates are encouraged to meet with an Academic Advising advisor upon their return. Students on probation, provisional registration, or deferred suspension return on that status and must meet with an  Academic Advising advisor upon return. Coterms must also meet with their graduate major advisor.

Extending a Leave or Returning from a Leave at a Different Time

  • A Leave of Absence form must be completed (with the extension portion of the form filled out) by a student who wishes to extend an initial leave of absence.

  • Undergraduates who plan to return to Stanford in a different term than that indicated on the Leave of Absence form should visit the Academic Advising's Requests for Exceptions to Academic Policy page in order to complete the Request to Return and Register in Undergraduate Study form.

  • Graduate students who wish to return in an earlier term than originally requested will need to submit an Early Return from LOA eForm. 

  • Graduate students who did not enroll in the term they were due to return and did not submit a leave of absence extension, are discontinued from the University for no enrollment upon the Final Study List deadline. In order to return to their studies, an Application for Reinstatement in Graduate Study (pdf) must be submitted. Approval is contingent upon departmental sign-off. Both an application fee and reinstatement fee apply.

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