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 health reasons, typically last for two semesters (though not required to be two), 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. Check out the OSSS informational blog about Medical Leave.
  • 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: See our Housing FAQ resource. Taking a leave may affect your housing options differently depending on what semester level you will be upon returning to Brown, and depending on whether you are returning in the Fall or the Spring semester. 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. The housing process for returned leavetakers is very confusing, so please contact us directly with any questions and make sure to contact ResLife!

Q: Do I have access to Brown resources while on my leave?

A: Students on leave retain some but not all resources while on leave. Below are details about which resources are available to students on leave, particularly those who stay in the Providence area.

  • Email: You will automatically retain your Brown email for a year after which it will automatically expire. However, you can easily extend this by simply contacting Ivone Aubin in the office of the Dean of the College (for undergraduate students).
  • Card Swipe and Building Access: Students do not maintain access to the dining facilities, residence halls, or other Brown owned buildings requiring a swipe to enter.
  • Participating in Campus Activities & Student Organizations: Many events on campus are open to the public or open to anyone who is the guest of a current Brown student. Students who are on leave can participate in any Brown activities or meetings that would normally be open to the public or as a guest of a Brown student at events that permit guests unless being on campus poses a threat to their safety or the safety of others. However, students who are on leave are not permitted to hold a student leadership position (such as president of a student group) on campus during the time of their leave and are not allowed to reserve space on campus. If students should not be attending campus events, this will be communicated to them by a dean at the time of their leavetaking.
  • Working on Campus: You may apply for a job that is advertised to the wider public, however jobs classified as "student employment" are only available to active students. 
  • Fitness Center & Athletic Facilities: Students on leave do not retain automatic access to athletic facilities. However, they may purchase a pass to utilize the facilities under Athletics alumnus membership policy. More information on this policy can be found here
  • Library Access: Like other building access, students do not maintain access to the libraries once their leave becomes effective. However, library access may be granted to a student on leave if there is a compelling reason to do so.

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.