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Leave of Absence and Absent without Leave Policies

This content will be added to the Graduate College Handbook on 8/26/13 as section 10 of Chapter III. B.

10. Academic Leaves of Absence:
Note: Graduate students who leave the University at any time should also refer to the Student Code Sections 3-308, 3-313, and 3-314b for additional information.

  1. Academic Leave of Absence Policy. Graduate Students in degree-seeking programs are entitled to a total of two terms (fall and/or spring semesters) of academic leave of the types described below, in the course of a single degree program. However, students must document their request for a leave and meet the eligibility requirements. Students who anticipate not being enrolled for one or more terms, (fall or spring semesters, not summer), for whatever reason must meet with their program adviser before the first day of classes of their period of non-enrollment to apply for and receive approval for an Academic Leave of Absence. Students who are enrolled in summer only programs must apply for a Leave of Absence before taking a summer term off.
    1. Categories
      There are two categories of Academic Leaves of Absence:
      • Personal Academic Leaves of Absence may be requested for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to leave for health reasons, for personal reasons, for active military service, or to take care of dependents or family members. Students who are on an approved Personal Academic Leave of Absence use the leave for personal reasons and not to make progress on the degree. In addition, students on Personal Academic Leaves of Absence should not expect that faculty will provide feedback on academic work, including proposals or drafts of theses.
      • Academic Progress Leaves of Absence may be requested for instances of academic activity such as Study Abroad when the student registers at another institution, or fieldwork when the student is not using UIUC resources including faculty time, nor receiving financial support paid through the University. Students who are on an approved Academic Progress Leave of Absence do use the Leave to make progress toward completion of the degree, but must not use campus resources. Expectations of progress to be made during the Leave should be documented in the student’s academic file.
    2. Student status
      Student status does not change during the period of an approved Leave of Absence. Standing that was in place at the time of the leave is not changed at the time of return as long as the conditions of the approved leave are met.
    3. Timing and limits
      All Academic Leaves must be requested before the term begins. An Academic Leave of Absence cannot be requested retroactively, cannot be used to return to good standing, and cannot be used to extend the time to degree. Note: the maximum allowed Academic Leave of Absence is two terms (spring or fall or two summer terms for summer only programs) during a student’s degree program. These terms may be consecutive terms or terms approved individually.

      In cases where an enrolled student must leave the University after the first day of classes, the student must withdraw from the current term.  For more information on withdrawal, see section VIII.C. of the Graduate Student Handbook. In these cases it may or may not be appropriate to request an Academic Leave of Absence for the following semester.

    4. Student Responsibilities when requesting academic leaves
      Students who are requesting a Leave are responsible for knowing the potential consequences of taking an approved Academic Leave of Absence on benefits and services dependent on their being an enrolled student. A student who is not enrolled does not have access to the services dependent on enrolled student status. For example, the student’s Net ID will be deactivated and the student will not have access to a University email account or access to the University library. Other impacts include loss of health insurance, loss of graduate student employment, potential loss of fellowship support, loss of loan deferment, etc.

      The Graduate College policy on time to degree applies and must be addressed in the record of the approved leave. If by requesting a Leave, the student is going to go beyond the degree program’s approved time to degree during the Leave, then the student also needs to request a time extension for the degree through the Graduate College petition process at the time of the request for Academic Leave.

      Students with an approved Academic Leave of Absence must ensure that they have cancelled their registration for the term during which the leave will occur before the first day of classes.

      • International Students: International students must meet with an ISSS advisor prior to requesting a leave and the ISSS advisor must sign the Request for Academic Leave of Absence form
      • All students: All students are responsible for informing relevant offices or agencies of their non-student status. Other offices that a student may need to consult about the effects of non-student status are:
        • Office of Student Financial Aid
        • Website includes information on eligibility requirements for financial aid funds that you have received. Check www.osfa.illinois.edu for additional information.
        • Loan Servicers
        • Review the status of any student loans you have borrowed and determine repayment options at http://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA/
        • Student Insurance/Insurance Providers
        • Graduate College Fellowship Office
        • Assistantship appointing unit
    5. Procedure to request an Academic Leave
      Requests must be approved by the department prior to the first day of classes. To request a formal academic leave the student must complete the following before the first day of classes of the term of non-enrollment:
      • Complete the written Request for Academic Leave of Absence form
      • If necessary, complete a petition to request an extension of time to degree
      • International students must meet with an ISSS advisor and obtain a signature on the Request for Academic Leave of Absence form
      • Submit the written Request for Academic Leave of Absence form to the department
      • Meet with her/his adviser and Director of Graduate Studies, either by phone or in person, to review the request

      The department reviews the Request for Academic Leave of Absence form and completes the following:

      • Review and document the student’s current academic progress in the program by recording the academic requirements that have been completed as well as the student’s academic status
      • Document the student’s remaining requirements for degree completion upon return.
      • Document the length of the approved period of non-enrollment to be not more than 2 terms (spring or fall) during a student’s degree program. These may be consecutive terms or single terms approved individually
      • Document the potential financial support that may be available to the student upon return to the degree program, including current department policies on financial support that exist at the time the leave is approved.
      • The original approved Request for Academic Leave of Absence form is placed in the student’s academic file in the unit. A copy is given to the student.
      • In addition, the department may put an advising hold on the student’s record until the return from approved Academic Leave.
      • A copy of the approved form is forwarded to the Graduate College for inclusion in the student’s academic record in the college.

      Note: Faculty do not need to provide feedback for work by students who are not enrolled, for example, feedback on thesis chapters or grading work turned in as a requirement to change an I grade.

    6. Return from approved Academic Leave of Absence
      • Domestic Students
        Domestic students must notify their departments of their intent to return so that departments may review and confirm their academic status at the time of return. The department may need to remove an advising hold from the student’s record. If a domestic student has not been enrolled for three consecutive terms including summer, the student must complete and receive approval of a Graduate College Application for Re-entry. The Approved Academic Leave of Absence form must be attached to the Application for Re-entry to document the approved leave terms and for the return to enrolled student status.
      • International Students
        International students must notify their departments of their intent to return so that departments may review and confirm their academic status at the time of return. The department may need to remove an advising hold from the student’s record. Because of student visa requirements, all international students taking leave outside the U.S must complete and receive approval of a Graduate College Application for Re-entry. The Approved Academic Leave of Absence form must be attached to the Application for Re-entry to document the approved leave terms and for the return to enrolled student status. International students taking leave outside the U.S. should begin this process at least three months in advance to allow for document processing and visa issuance, if required.
  2. Absent without Leave Policy. Degree-seeking graduate students are required to request a formal Academic Leave of Absence before not being enrolled for one or more terms, (fall or spring semesters, not summer). Students in summer only programs are required to request a formal Academic Leave of Absence before taking a summer term off from their enrollment. There are potentially negative consequences for failing to request an Academic Leave of Absence. Students who do not enroll and do not meet with the program and document their status with an approved Academic Leave of Absence before a period of non-enrollment begins are considered Absent without Leave. A program may put an advising hold on a student who is Absent without Leave. A student who is Absent without Leave may be prevented from re-enrolling, may have additional degree requirements to complete if allowed to return, or may be subject to new degree requirements.