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 finalize leaves through the USC six to eight weeks in advance of the semester. While you can (and should!) consult with us a full semester ahead of your intended leave, we recommend completing the necessary paperwork between May 1 and July 30 for a fall leave, and during the month of December for spring. 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 connect with us for direct 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.
Why Take a Leave?
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.
How a Leave Will Affect You
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.
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).
When your leave of absence is approved, the notation “leave of absence” will be listed on your transcript for the appropriate semester.
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.
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.
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. Please also see “Loan Deferment/Repayment” section, below.
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 (log into the Student Link, click the green “Money Matters” tab, select “Student Account Inquiry” and “Request Refund”).
Student and parent educational loans may go into repayment status. Information on payment amounts, grace periods, etc., can be obtained from the lender.
The Boston University Student Medical Insurance Plan coverage is yearlong; the policy year begins each August. Undergraduate students whose leaves are approved by the beginning of August (for the fall semester only or for the full academic year) will have their SHIP coverage canceled and the charge removed from the tuition invoice, as part of the leave process. Students may also waive SHIP coverage directly via the Student Link, during the official waiver period. After the first 30 days of the policy period, the medical insurance coverage cannot be waived. This means that students enrolled in SHIP for the academic year will retain coverage for the remainder of the policy period, even when taking a spring(-only) leave of absence.
To determine the impact that arranging a leave of absence will have on your eligibility to retain insurance coverage, contact email@example.com or call 617-353-2870. For more information about SHIP, please visit the Student Health Services resource page.
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. A student on a leave of absence or in a non-credit certificate or exchange program cannot be paid as a student employee, but can be hired as a temporary employee/staff/faculty through Human Resources. See the policy “Student Work Hours for Employment at Boston University” for more information.
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.
How Do I Officially Request A Leave of Absence?
For information on the process for requesting an official leave of absence, see here.