Arranging a Leave of Absence

Full-time undergraduate degree candidates arrange leaves through the University Service Center (USC).  All other students should contact their academic dean’s office or records office for assistance.  See the Registrar’s Office website for more information.  If you’re unsure of the correct office, contact the USC.

Undergraduate students should request a leave in person at the USC between May 1 and August 1 for the upcoming fall semester or during the month of December for the upcoming spring semester.  Review the information provided in the sections below (“Why Take A Leave?”, “How A Leave Will Affect You“, and “How Do I Officially Request a Leave of Absence?”), then stop by our office during drop-in hours for direct assistance. If you aren’t in the Boston area, or can’t visit us during drop-in hours, contact us by phone (617-358-1818) or email (and carefully read the auto-reply message) for assistance.

International students who are studying in the United States on a student visa, must contact ISSO to speak with an advisor before submitting a leave of absence request to the USC. Taking a leave of absence can have significant visa-related implications, so it is important to discuss your options with ISSO.

Leave of Absence for Medical Reasons
If your leave of absence is for medical reasons, University policy requires that you successfully complete the medical review process through Student Health Services prior to re-enrolling. Medical documentation is not required in order to arrange your leave, but students often find it helpful to share a doctor’s note with Student Health Services to keep their records updated and to facilitate the return process.  Speak with a USC associate director about your situation and appropriate next steps.

Circumstances sometimes arise that make it necessary or advisable for a student to interrupt his or her studies. Examples include:

  • attending to a health issue (leave of absence for medical reasons)
  • completing required military service
  • pursuing a professional opportunity such as an internship
  • addressing a family/personal obligation

What if I need to miss a few days of school? Do I need to take a leave of absence?

Sometimes students need to miss class for a few days due to an illness or a family emergency. It is very important to notify each of your professors of the absence as soon as possible; a call to your academic advising office or dean’s office is usually a good idea, too. Students are expected to make arrangements for completing any missed work directly with their instructors. In many cases, a short absence from classes, with conscientious follow up on your part, will not prevent you from successfully completing the semester.

In cases of serious illness or injury, a student may not be able to finish the semester coursework and a leave of absence may be necessary. Please see Taking a Leave After the Semester Begins for more information.

If you are unsure whether your situation requires a leave of absence or a withdrawal, or if you are just not sure where to start, please contact the University Service Center and speak with an associate director.

This information applies for leaves arranged through the University Service Center (USC) before the start of the semester. If the semester has begun, see Taking a Leave After the Semester Begins

Academic Advising
If you’re considering a leave of absence, talk with your academic advisor about how this will affect your degree studies (schedule for taking required courses, changes to graduation date, etc).

Academic Transcript
When your leave of absence is approved, the notation “leave of absence” will be listed on your transcript for the appropriate semester.

Class Registration
When your leave of absence is approved, your course registration will be cancelled for the upcoming term and your name removed from class lists.

Financial Implications / Tuition Cancellation Schedule
The published tuition refund schedule provides for the full cancellation of tuition and fees for a student who requests a leave of absence prior to the first day of the semester. If you need to arrange a leave on or after the first day of the semester, review the information under Taking a Leave After the Semester Begins and call the USC.

On-campus Housing
Your on-campus housing assignment will be cancelled and the space reassigned. For information on requesting on-campus housing for your semester of return, see Planning Your Return From a Leave of Absence.

Financial Aid
Need-based financial aid, loans, and BU scholarships offered for the semester(s) you are on a leave of absence will be cancelled. For more information, visit BU Financial Assistance. Any award offered by a private donor will be adjusted according to the terms stipulated by the donor.

Student Account/Billing
Allow two to three business days for account adjustments to be reflected in your online invoice; adjustment of financial aid funds may take up to thirty days. If these adjustments result in a credit balance (overpayment) on your account, the credit may be left in place to offset future charges, or refunded upon your request to

Loan Deferment/Repayment
Student and parent educational loans may go into repayment status. Information on payment amounts, grace periods, etc., can be obtained from the lender.

Health Insurance
The Boston University Student Medical Insurance Plan Year begins August 15, 2019, and runs through August 14, 2020. For students covered under the BU student medical insurance plan, this coverage will be automatically canceled for students who arrange a fall semester or full year leave of absence prior to or within the first month of the insurance policy period (by mid-September 2019).  If you were covered by the Boston University Student Medical Insurance Plan, you may be eligible to re-enroll in the plan. To determine the impact that arranging a leave of absence will have on your eligibility to retain insurance coverage, contact or call 617-353-2870.
Students who are enrolled in the Boston University Student Medical Insurance Plan in the fall and arrange a spring leave of absence will retain the coverage through the remainder of the policy period.

Medical Requirements
University policy requires that all students who take leaves for medical reasons complete the medical review process with Student Health Services prior to re-enrollment. Information on the medical review process is outlined under the returning from leave options on this site. It is not necessary to provide medical documentation at the time of the leave of absence. Providing medical documentation at the time of the leave or soon thereafter, however, can facilitate the medical review process as part of the return from leave arrangements.

Student Employment/Work Study
Alert your employer that you will not be returning to your position. Your Work-Study award will be cancelled when you take a leave of absence.

Access to Services
During a leave of absence, you will not have access to BU services (FitRec membership, library borrowing privileges, etc.).

BU Email and Student Link Access
Your BU Email account remains active for each semester you are officially registered for classes or are on an approved leave of absence. If you do not register and do not obtain approval for a leave of absence for a fall or spring semester, your email account may be deactivated.

Student Link access is retained. It is your responsibility to remember your BU login and Kerberos password to access your Link records during and after your University enrollment.

For information on the process for requesting an official leave of absence, see here.