Leavetaking FAQs

Leavetaking FAQs

Q: What is the difference between the different types of leave (personal, medical, academic)?

A: From an administrative perspective, leaves of absence fall into three categories. 

  • Personal leaves are voluntary and student-initiated. The student determines the leave’s duration and logistics. Students interested in declaring a personal leave should meet with one of the academic advising deans the semester prior. 
  • Medical leaves are leaves taken for physical or psychological heath reasons, typically last for two semesters, and have benefits including additional academic support upon return. Deans in the Office of Student Life (Student Support Services) are responsible for the logistics of these types of leaves and can help advise students.
  • Academic leaves are taken when a student falls below the minimum course credit requirements. Deans in the Office of the Dean of the College are responsible for the logistics of these types of leaves and can help advise students.

While the three types of leaves may be taken for different reasons, they all share the common theme of time away from Brown that will benefit the student’s overall college experience. Meet with a dean or a leavetaking advisor in the CRC to discuss how you can make the most of it. 

Q: When is the “best” time to take a leave?

A: There is really no one best time- the best time is whenever is best for you. Students take time off after their first semester freshman year, before or during senior year, and everything in between. In fact, at least 200 students take a leave of absence each year! It can be worth thinking about what you hope to get from your time off (be it a health-related, academic, or personal goal) and how you see it influencing the rest of your time at Brown.

Q: If you take one semester off, but decide midway through that you want to take a full year, can you?

A: Yes! Personal leaves are open-ended by design. This means that once you declare leave, you are on leave until you declare your return. For a personal leave, all this requires is an email to an academic dean halfway through the semester before the one you wish to return for (ie. By April 1st if you are on leave for the spring and wish to return in the fall). 

Q: If I take leave and become a .5er, will I miss out on graduation festivities?

A: No! Students graduating in December have the option of walking during the May commencement ceremony the spring before and/or after they officially complete their degree. Point-fivers can purchase senior week wristbands and participate fully in all senior activities. In addition, there is a special mid-year completion ceremony to honor these graduates each December.

Q: How will taking leave affect financial aid or loans?

A: We strongly recommend that all students receiving financial aid meet with a counselor in the Financial Aid Office to discuss their individual situations. As an overview, assuming a student declares leave in advance of the deadline for an upcoming semester, they will be neither billed for tuition nor receive financial aid. Students should be sure to still adhere to financial aid deadlines regarding reapplication for the following year, just the same as if they were not on leave. Students with loans should meet with a counselor in the loan office to determine how a leave of absence might affect loan repayment.

Q: How will taking a leave affect my housing options?

A: All students planning to take a leave of absence should notify the Office of Residential Life prior to departure. Students on leave in the spring but planning to return for the fall can designate a friend as their proxy to choose housing for them during the lottery. Unfortunately, taking a leave of absence does mean that you lose your off-campus permission for the semester in which you return, but students returning with a semester level of 7 or higher can meet with a staff member from the Office of Student Life to get permission again. 

Q: What do students do while on leave?

A: Students take leave for wide variety of reasons and the diversity of experiences they have on leave reflect this. Students return home, relax, take care of themselves, work jobs, have internships, take classes, travel… anything is fair game. We encourage you to make an appointment with a leavetaking advisor or drop in during open hours at the CRC to discuss your individual interests and goals.