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 A degree candidate who does not register for consecutive semesters and is not on a leave of absence is automatically withdrawn from degree status and must apply for re-enrollment to resume degree status.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

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.

Entrance to a Controlled Major while on a Leave

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.

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.

General Deposit

The University holds the student's general deposit while the student is on a leave of absence.

Financial Aid

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.

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 have a Penn State housing contract for the semester(s) you will be on leave, you must cancel your contract.

Verifying a Leave

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.

Scheduling for the Planned Semester / Session of Return

A student may register for the semester/session of return using the Schedule of Courses, eLion, and instructions for registration.

Reviewed: July 2015
Last Update: November 2011

Reference(s): Senate Policy 56-70