A leave of absence (LOA) is a temporary interruption in a student’s program of study. A LOA cannot exceed 180 days in any 12 month period and may have a serious impact on a student’s financial aid. Any student considering requesting a LOA that received financial aid should consult with the Financial Aid Office to determine how their financial aid will be affected.
A student on an approved leave of absence is treated as still enrolled. Until July 2003, with only a few exceptions, each student was allowed only one leave of absence annually. Since that date, schools are allowed to grant multiple leaves of absence at their discretion, as long as the total number of days for all leave does not exceed 180 within a twelve-month period.
Students should provide a written, signed, and dated request for leave that includes the reason for the request. If the student does not have or is unable to obtain this documentation, then the student should submit a declaration stating when and why the student requested the leave of absence, if and when it was granted by the school, the expected date of return, and why the student does not have documentation. If unforeseen circumstances prevent a student from providing a written request, the school may grant the request as long as it documents the decision and collects the written request at a later date. If the student does not return to school after a leave of absence, the withdrawal date will be the date that the school determines the student began the leave of absence.
For purposes of a closed-school discharge, a borrower on an approved leave of absence who tried but could not return to the school because it was closed should still be eligible for the closed-school discharge.
(1) For purposes of this section (and, for a title IV, HEA program loan borrower, for purposes of terminating the student’s in-school status), an institution does not have to treat a leave of absence as a withdrawal if it is an approved leave of absence. A leave of absence is an approved leave of absence if—
(i) The institution has a formal policy regarding leaves of absence;
(ii) The student followed the institution’s policy in requesting the leave of absence;
(iii) The institution determines that there is a reasonable expectation that the student will return to the school;
(iv) The institution approved the student’s request in accordance with the institution’s policy;
(v) The leave of absence does not involve additional charges by the institution;
(vi) The number of days in the approved leave of absence, when added to the number of days in all other approved leaves of absence, does not exceed 180 days in any 12-month period;
(vii) Except for a clock hour or non-term credit hour program, upon the student’s return from the leave of absence, the student is permitted to complete the coursework he or she began prior to the leave of absence; and
(viii) If the student is a title IV, HEA program loan recipient, the institution explains to the student, prior to granting the leave of absence, the effects that the student’s failure to return from a leave of absence may have on the student’s loan repayment terms, including the exhaustion of some or all of the student’s grace period.
(2) If a student does not resume attendance at the institution at or before the end of a leave of absence that meets the requirements of this section, the institution must treat the student as a withdrawal in accordance with the requirements of this section.
(3) For purposes of this paragraph—
(ii) A “12-month period” begins on the first day of the student’s initial leave of absence.
(iii) An institution’s leave of absence policy is a “formal policy” if the policy—
(A) Is in writing and publicized to students; and
(B) Requires students to provide a written, signed, and dated request that includes the reason for the request, for a leave of absence prior to the leave of absence. However, if unforeseen circumstances prevent a student from providing a prior written request, the institution may grant the student’s request for a leave of absence, if the institution documents its decision and collects the written request at a later date.