Related Policies and Additional References:
The purpose of a Leave of Absence (LOA) is to allow undergraduate and (non-law) graduate students to interrupt continuous enrollment for up to three semesters without having to apply for readmission. A LOA is not required for summer sessions. A LOA request must be submitted to the university registrar’s office prior to the first day of classes of the semester in which leave would begin; however, students are encouraged to initiate a request as early as possible after the semester preceding the requested leave has concluded. In the case of exigent circumstances, a LOA may be granted while a semester is in progress with the approval of the Academic Dean. If a LOA is granted during a given semester, the student will receive a grade of “W” or “I” as determined by the course instructor.
A LOA occurs when a student separates from the University and, at the time of departure, fully intends to return (up to three semesters). After a separation of more than three semesters, students seeking to return to St. Mary’s must apply for readmission.
The reasons for a LOA include, but are not limited to the following:
- Medical reasons
- Personal reasons such as:
- Military Leave
- Financial hardship
- Employment obligations
An approved LOA will allow the student to retain access to Gateway and St. Mary’s email accounts, maintain his/her current academic standing, and be allowed to priority register based on his/her current classification standing.
- A LOA is not registered for classes at St. Mary’s. The student cannot fulfill any official department or University requirements during the leave period or receive benefits associated with being enrolled (i.e.: student health insurance).
- A LOA student may complete course work for a class in which an incomplete grade was assigned in a prior semester within the time limit for resolving incompletes. A leave of absence does not stop the clock on the time limit for resolving incompletes unless an extension is granted by the Academic Dean.
Degree and graduation requirements:
- Ordinarily, the degree requirements applicable to the student’s declared major will not change due to the student’s LOA. Nevertheless, there are circumstances when the degree requirements or program offerings will change while the student is on leave. Students should consult with their academic advisers and check GPS.
- The time within which a student is required to complete the degree requirements generally will not change because of a LOA, although the graduation date may be affected.
- Students must obtain prior approval for transfer credits if they take courses at another college or university during their LOA.
- A student on LOA must meet the normal deadlines for applying for financial aid in order to be considered for funding for the semester in which they plan to return.
- A students’ financial aid eligibility upon return will remain the same as when they entered their LOA. As such their financial aid award will include the same institutional awards they have at time of LOA, as long as they meet the appropriate financial aid application deadlines.
- A student’s financial aid award is treated the same as a student who is no longer enrolled. When a LOA lasts more than six (6) months, a student may be subject to repayment of student loans.
- If a student is a Title IV loan recipient, the LOA may not be more than 180 days (including weekends and scheduled breaks).
Graduate students should refer to the Maintaining Matriculation policy when all required coursework has been completed except the thesis or dissertation, graduate project or comprehensive exam. A LOA would not apply in these cases.
Students with an F-1 or J-1 visa who are contemplating a LOA must first consult with the Office of International Programs, and again as they prepare to resume their studies at St. Mary’s after a LOA. A St. Mary’s LOA is an institutional classification and does not ensure a student’s right to remain in the United States. The University is legally obligated to report a leave of absence for any reason by a student with an F-1 or J-1 visa to the Department of Homeland Security.
On Campus housing:
Resident students who take a LOA during the spring semester will not be eligible to participate in the regular room selection process for the following fall semester; however, they will be eligible to return to campus housing. Students are not guaranteed the same residence hall or residence hall room. Contact the Office of Residence Life for additional information.
Process for Leave of Absence
LOA for Medical Reasons
- A student requesting a LOA must submit a Leave of Absence to the university registrar’s office prior to the first day of classes of the semester in which leave would begin.
- Any student returning from a medical LOA must submit a Leave of Absence form to the Dean of Students, no later than May 1 for the fall semester or December 1 for the spring semester, before a registration hold can be lifted. A student may be required to include a written statement from Health Services and/or Counseling Services, or a licensed medical professional.
LOA for Personal Reasons
- A student requesting a LOA must submit a Leave of Absence form to the university registrar’s office prior to the first day of classes of the semester in which leave would begin.
- Graduate students submitting a request for LOA for personal reasons should also submit and request approval from their Program Director.
- Any student returning from LOA for personal reasons must submit a Leave of Absence form to the Dean of Students, no later than May 1 for the fall semester or December 1 for the spring semester, before a registration hold can be lifted.