Leave of Absence
A baccalaureate or associate degree student who wants to take a limited time off from Penn State course work may maintain degree status and ensure that his/her degree requirements will remain the same by taking a leave of absence. A degree candidate who does not register for consecutive semesters and is not on a leave of absence is automatically withdrawn from degree status and must apply for re-enrollment to resume degree status.
- Situations in Which a Leave is NOT Appropriate
- Military Leave of Absence
- Deadline for Requesting a Leave
- Maximum Length of a Leave
- Changing a Leave
- Course Work During a Leave
- Entrance to a Controlled Major While on a Leave
- Penn State Access Account
- General Deposit
- Financial Aid
- Deferred Grade Deadline
- Student Action
- Verifying a Leave
- Scheduling for the Planned Semester/Session of Return
- If a student does not enroll in summer course work (enrollment is optional).
- If a student withdraws or is dropped or dismissed (see Re-enrollment).
- If a student wishes to interrupt studies during an academic semester (see Withdrawal).
- If a student is enrolled in any Penn State course: resident instruction, Continuing Education, or World Campus.
Students called to active duty U.S. military service prior to a semester or session should provide a copy of their military orders to the Registrar's office at University Park to arrange for a military leave of absence.
Military leave of absence is available only to students in receipt of U.S. military active duty orders.
A leave of absence is generally not approved for longer than one year. However, under special circumstances, a leave may be approved for a maximum of five years (e.g., military deployment).
A student is expected to return for the "first semester back" indicated on the leave of absence form. However, a leave can be modified in the following ways:
Prior to the start of classes in the semester/session a leave is scheduled to begin, the student may cancel the leave by contacting the office where it was processed. Once a leave begins, it cannot be canceled.
No change is possible if the student on leave wants to return earlier than the "returning semester/session" indicated on the form or if he/she does not register for classes in the "returning semester." Re-enrollment procedures must be followed if the student wishes to resume degree candidacy.
During a leave of less than one year, the student may submit another leave of absence form requesting an extension. The extension must be approved by the student's appropriate college dean.
If a student scheduled resident instruction, Continuing Education, and/or World Campus credit courses for the semester a leave is to begin, the schedule is automatically canceled when the leave of absence is processed.
While on a leave, students may schedule course work at another institution.
A student who is considering a major that has an administrative enrollment control should consult with the appropriate advising center before filing for a leave of absence. Careful academic planning is required because a leave may change the number of semesters a student can use to meet entrance-to-major requirements.
If a student heading toward a major with administrative enrollment controls is planning a leave for his/her fourth semester, advising consultation prior to the start of the leave is imperative because the student will be on a leave during the semester in which he/she must file an application to enter the major. This advising consultation should include a review of the college procedures that a student must follow to be in the major pool: i.e., by keeping his/her computer account active (see Computer Account below) and confirming his/her preferences on eLion or by working with an adviser to ensure that his/her application to major is submitted.
A student's Penn State Access Account is suspended at the beginning of the semester that his/her leave begins. The account (with the same user ID) is automatically reactivated a few weeks prior to the start of the semester in which the student returns if he/she is scheduled for at least one credit class. Students at any Penn State campus, who want to keep their accounts active while on an official leave of absence, should complete the Penn State Access Account Extension for Student Leave of Absence form. The completed form must be brought or mailed to 204 Wagner Building, University Park, PA 16802. A monthly fee is charged to the student's Bursar Account.
The University holds the student's general deposit while the student is on a leave of absence.
A student who is on a leave of absence will be considered by any loan lender to be not enrolled in school and will receive notices regarding repayment on any loans.
A leave of absence does not change a deferred grade deadline.
- Print the leave of absence form.
- Complete the form and submit it to your appropriate college dean.
- If you have a Penn State housing contract for the semester(s) you will be on leave, you must cancel your contract.
Students do not receive notification when a leave is approved. Authorized advisers can check ISIS screen ARISPP to see if the student's leave of absence has been recorded. The student's first semester on leave and his/her first semester back are noted under the letters LOA.
Reviewed: May 2013
Last Update: November 2011
Reference(s): Senate Policy 56-70