Can I Take a Leave of Absence from Online College?

Taking a leave of absence from an online college is sometimes necessary to deal with issues that life throws our way. Fortunately, most online colleges have provisions and procedures to allow for this. The application process for the leave of absence differs depending on the college you are attending, as does the time allowed away, but most follow similar general guidelines.

Academic Standing Requirement

The first requirement that must be met is to be academically eligible based on grade point average. Colleges like to ensure the student is in good academic standing prior to granting a leave of absence to ensure continued success upon return to the school. Most colleges require at least a 2.0 GPA. In some strict cases, if your GPA is not above the minimum standard, requesting a leave of absence will in fact completely withdraw you from the school, so it is best to double check with the registrar prior to applying.

Financial Aid / Status Requirement

Another requirement to consider before applying includes status of federal aid or other financial assistance. Most financial aid programs will take into consideration an approved leave of absence without incurring any penalties or paybacks.

Approved Leave Time

Once approved, the student is usually allowed as much as two semesters or 180 days of absence time running concurrently. Most colleges require a leave of absence if the student is going to be away from their studies for more than 2 weeks. In most cases, the student is also required to drop from their existing classes prior to starting the leave. This can be deferred should the absence length only last 2 weeks, and prior arrangement made with the instructors.

Return to the College

Upon returning to the college, the student is usually required to wait until the beginning of the next term or semester to begin classes again. Return during the middle of the semester is not permitted as the student has usually dropped the classes as previously mentioned. In the case of the student having taken classes at another institution while on leave, the student is normally required to submit a transfer of credits to have the classes credited to the college from which the absence occurred. There are also some colleges with policies that do not allow students who are on approved leaves to attend classes from other colleges. Always check with your adviser to ensure that the specific facts are known before starting a leave of absence.

Reinstatement Upon Withdrawal

In the case where the student takes more than the allowed time in absence, the student is usually automatically withdrawn from the college. Return to the college after a withdrawal usually requires a petition to be filed with the administrative office requesting reinstatement. Returning in this manner is always dependent on previous academic standing and approval of financial aid.

Taking a leave of absence is never easy, but online colleges usually understand and can allow for it. Always be sure of all the facts of your specific college before applying for a leave to ensure your academic career is not affected.