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 A degree candidate who does not register for consecutive semesters and is not on a leave of absence is automatically withdrawn from degree status and must apply for re-enrollment to resume degree status.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

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.

Deadline for Requesting a Leave

A leave of absence form should be filed by the last working day before classes start in the semester/session the leave will begin (see deadlines listed in the Academic Calendar).

Maximum Length of a Leave

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).

Changing a Leave

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:

  1. 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.
  2. If a student is on a leave of less than one year, he/she may submit another leave of absence form requesting an extension. The extension must be approved by the student's appropriate college dean.

A student must request re-enrollment to resume degree candidacy if he/she 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."

Course Work during a Leave

A leave of absence applies to all Penn State credit courses: resident instruction, Continuing Education, and World Campus.

While on a leave, students may schedule course work at another institution.

Penn State Access Account

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.

Financial Aid

A student should contact the student aid representative at his/her Penn State campus before taking a leave of absence to discuss any potential issues related to repayment of aid funds.

Deferred Grade Deadline

A leave of absence does not change a deferred grade deadline.

Student Action

  1. Print the leave of absence form.
  2. Complete the form and submit it to your appropriate college dean.
  3. If you scheduled courses for the semester your leave begins, drop them using LionPATH.
  4. If you have a Penn State housing contract for the semester(s) you will be on leave, you must cancel your contract.

Verifying a Leave

In LionPATH, record of a student's leave can be found in two places.

In the advisee's Student Center, select "academics" in the menu bar to see the date that a current leave began:

Image of verification of leave of absence in LionPATH Student Center academics

On a student's unofficial transcript in LionPATH, the semester that a leave begins and ends is listed as shown below:

Image of verification of leave of absence on LionPATH unofficial transcript

Scheduling for the Planned Semester / Session of Return

A student may register for the semester/session of return by following registration instructions.


Last Update: December 2016

Reference(s): Senate Policy 56-70