Leavetaking FAQs

Revision: November 23, 2020

What is a leave of absence?


Undergraduates may take a voluntary leave of absence for a semester or longer. There are two types of voluntary leaves of absence: Medical leaves, which are granted in consultation with the Office of Student Support Services, and personal leaves, approved in consultation with academic advising deans.

Students request a personal leave of absence for many reasons: To take a break from the pace of college, explore a career pathway in an internship or job, spend time with family or attend to personal matters, experience personal enrichment opportunities outside of the academic environment, enlist in military service, and more. About 160-200 students take some form of a leave of absence from Brown each year.

When do I need to declare a personal leave of absence, and how do I do so?


Ideally, students intending to file for a personal leave of absence request their intent to do so by May 1 for a leave during the following fall semester, or by December 1 for the following spring semester. However, you may request a personal leave of absence after these deadlines. Students requesting a “late personal leave” must speak with an advising dean about their proposed personal leave plan, which might include employment or internship options, volunteering, care of a family member or military deployment. If you remain active on the day  classes begin, you are financially obligated for tuition for that semester. If you withdraw for personal leave after the start of classes, you are subject to the Bursar’s pro rata reimbursement rules for the first five weeks of the semester. We recommend, however, requesting  a “late personal leave” no later than August 1 for the upcoming fall semester, and by January 15  for the upcoming spring semester. (Requesting a leave just before classes begin may mean it is more difficult to reach deans or administrative staff who are occupied with planning for the start of the semester.)

To discuss your plans and request a personal leave, you should schedule a meeting with an academic advising dean. Once you are certain of your decision to request a leave, you or the academic advising dean will submit an electronic leave request form in ASK, which the Dean must approve. (See the “Student Petitions” tab.) If you are approved for a leave, the Registrar’s office will change your status from active to inactive in Banner for the upcoming semester. 

As long as the leave is approved and processed before the first day of classes, you can expect to receive a full-tuition reimbursement for any fees paid for the upcoming semester.

If I am an international student considering a leave, are there visa-related implications that I should keep in mind?

If you are attending Brown on an F-1 Visa, you should discuss possible implications for your visa status with a member of the Office of International Student-Scholar Services (OISSS). You should also note that, while on a personal leave, you cannot reside in the U.S. You should also consult with the Financial Aid office and with Residential Life about your leave plans.

Can I rescind an approved Personal Leave request?

The College will try to accommodate students whose plans change and who would like to rescind their personal leave request. However, we cannot guarantee that a space will be available in the semester in which you have been approved for a leave.

What other actions are needed for my Leave Request to be approved?

Once you have discussed your leave plan with your advising dean, students should discuss with the relevant offices how the leave would affect their financial aid or loan repayment schedule, visa status, and/or  housing obligations, if any of those apply.

If you are approved for a leave, the Registrar will update your records in the Banner student information system and distribute the appropriate notification of separation to pertinent university administrative offices and outside agencies.

Note: If your permanent address has changed, or if it changes while you are on a leave of absence, you must update this immediately in the ‘Personal Information’ tab of Self Service Banner. 

If approved for leave, you must also attest that you have read and agree to the following:

I understand that I must notify the College in writing by email ([email protected]) of my intent to return (or to extend my leave) by: APRIL 1st (if proposing to return for fall); OCTOBER 1st (if proposing to return for spring). I also understand that submitting this request by the designated deadline does not assure my return to studies and enrollment in the semester of my choice, and space may be limited based on enrollment limitations established by the University. As a result, making this request to return to studies does not guarantee access to pre-register via the online student information system for the requested term. As a student on a personal leave, I am on an inactive status and may not serve in a leadership position nor as an active member of the student organization. I also acknowledge that students on leave are not eligible to study abroad independently and are not eligible to apply for retroactive transfer of study abroad credits toward Brown degree requirements.

May I take courses elsewhere while I am on an approved personal leave?


Yes. Students on leave can take one or two courses at another institution as a visiting -- sometimes referred to as a “non-degree seeking” -- student. If you intend to seek approval for these courses to count toward Brown degree and/or concentration requirements, the courses must be pre-approved using the ASK transfer approval process. If you are planning to take courses, you should speak with one of the transfer advising deans about this process and carefully review the transfer approval instructions in ASK.

Students may not study away as a full-time, full-course-load student without permission from the Study Away/Transfer Student Advising deans. If approved, full-time Study Away would count as your one allowable semester of advanced standing, and you could not apply for additional standing via AP/IB credits or the four-course summer/Wintersession waiver.

How do I notify Brown I want to return from my personal leave?

Students declare their intention to return for studies while they are on leave, by October 1 for the following spring semester and by April 1 for the following fall semester. The deadline to submit a return request for the Summer 2021 term is February 1, 2021. As with the deadlines for declaring a leave, the deadlines for declaring the intention to return are flexible and late approval may be possible. While the College will make every effort to accommodate requests for return to studies for a particular term, we cannot guarantee there will be space available.

To apply to return from personal leave, please log onto the Student Petitions portal in ASK (or navigate to "Student Petitions" tab;  select "Personal Leaves" and then "My Return Requests") and create a return request by the deadlines below. The University will begin reviewing return requests after each deadline, and will email all students after decisions have been finalized regarding enrollments for the following semester. 

Students seeking to be cleared for return from a Medical Leave should follow the procedures on the Student Support Services website.

What other deadlines and financial considerations should my family and I be aware of?


As long as the personal leave is requested and approved before the semester begins, a family who has paid tuition for the upcoming semester can expect to receive a full refund with no tuition penalty. In other words, any tuition payments made for the semester will be refunded to the family as long as the leave is approved and processed before the first day of classes. A leave requested and processed on or after the first day of classes is subject to a partial refund of tuition per the schedule posted on the Bursar Office’s website.

The decision to take a leave of absence will not affect an aided student’s eligibility for financial aid upon their approved return to Brown as an active student. However, you must adhere to all published deadlines in applying for financial aid before returning to Brown. You should contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss any considerations particular to their situation -- including any U.S. federal loans or private loans/scholarships the student may have. If you are away during the spring semester, you should still file your FAFSA form by April 1 to be considered for aid in the following academic year.

Students with questions about housing should directly contact the Office of Residential Life. Any questions about meal plans should be directed to Dining Services.

All students who take a personal or medical leave of absence are charged a re-enrollment fee of $70.00.

What academic considerations should I be aware of?


When a student takes a personal leave of absence, upon return, they follow the academic deadlines that align with their current semester level. For instance, a sophomore who has been on a leave of absence for a semester would still declare their concentration in their fourth semester, even if their fourth semester is in the fall rather than the spring.

Some concentrations’ course sequences are structured specifically around a fall-spring sequence; if they are planning to take a leave, declared concentrators should have a conversation with their concentration advisor to discuss the specifics of their particular academic situation. First-year and sophomore students are also encouraged to let their academic advisor know of their intention to take a leave.

In recognition of the scores of students completing their degree requirements in December, the College hosts a Midyear Completion Celebration each year for students, family, and friends. If you complete your degree requirements in December, you may participate in Commencement festivities in May prior to degree completion; you will officially receive your diploma when degrees are conferred the following May.

Can I continue working with a faculty member on research if I am on a personal leave?

You may work with faculty on research projects if you are not paid from a student employment budget. Employment opportunities available to the general public are also available to you while you are on leave. You may not earn degree credit for work with faculty during the period of the leave. Until further notice, all undergraduate research must be conducted remotely unless the Primary Investigator has received approval from the Office of the Vice President for Research for undergraduates to engage in-person research. International students or students attending Brown on a visa should consult with OISSS about their eligibility to continue research. More information is available in the Global Brown FAQ.


Can I continue enrollment in the Brown University Health Insurance Plan if I take a leave?

Students enrolled in the University Health Insurance plan are typically eligible to continue their enrollment for up to one year under certain conditions. For more details, please see the Office of Insurance website.

What if I change my mind after I declare a personal leave (I don't want to go on leave)?

Contact the academic advising dean with whom you filed your leave. If you wish to rescind your request for a leave of absence after the official notification deadlines of April 1 (for fall semester enrollment) and October 1 (for spring semester enrollment), you must be cleared by the Deputy Dean of the College in order to continue your enrollment in the upcoming semester. The College will try to accommodate requests to rescind a leave, but cannot guarantee that space will be available in the next term.

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

Students retain some but not all resources while on leave. Below are details about which resources are available to you while you are on leave, particularly if you plan to stay in the Providence area.

  • Email: Students automatically retain their Brown email for a year after which it will default to expire. However, you may extend your email access by simply sending a request to [email protected].
  • 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 with permission as a guest of a Brown student at events that permit guests. However, students who are on leave are not permitted to hold a student leadership position (such as president of a student group) or be an active member of a student group during the time of their leave. Students on leave are not allowed to reserve spaces on campus.
  • Working for Brown: Students may apply for a job that is advertised to the wider public, however jobs classified as "Student Employment" are only available to actively enrolled students.
  • Brown's Health Insurance Plan: Visit this website to learn more.
  • Fitness Center & Athletic Facilities: Students on leave do not retain automatic access to athletic facilities. However, you may purchase a pass to utilize the facilities under the Athletics alumnus membership policy. More information on this policy can be found here. Student athletes on a personal leave are not eligible to practice with their teams and should consult with the office of Athletic Compliance about applicable NCAA and IVY league rules. 
  • 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 you while you are on leave if there is a compelling academic reason, such as completing incomplete course work or working on a thesis, for example.
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS):  Students must be enrolled (not on a leave of absence) in order to meet with a CAPS clinician. However, CAPS maintains a list of community therapists.
  • Academic Advising Deans: Students on a leave of absence can still meet with advising deans using this schedule.