Leaves of Absence

Students wishing to interrupt their studies at any time before graduation must petition the Administrative Board for a leave of absence. A leave of absence is a personal decision, and students who take a leave have different reasons for doing so. The decision to take a leave of absence begins with a conversation with Michael, the Allston Burr Resident Dean.

In Good Standing

Students whose previous academic and disciplinary record is satisfactory will normally be granted a "leave of absence." Contact Michael about your plans for a leave of absence. Students in good standing who have been granted a leave of absence may ordinarily return for any term by notifying Michael 12 weeks in advance of the term. Students going on voluntary leave must cancel their housing contracts as soon as possible in order to avoid fees.

To cancel your housing, visit the Dean of Student's Office Residential Portal and notify the House Administrator.

On probation (academic or disciplinary)

Students who are not in good standing may be granted a "leave of absence - on probation." Students who have been granted a "leave of absence - on probation" must petition the Administrative Board for permission to register and must provide the Board with evidence that they are ready to return to the College.

Students who decide to take a leave of absence are responsible for all dates and deadlines relevant to leaving/returning to campus. Dean of Students Office lists major dates and deadlines on its website.

To apply for housing, visit the Dean of Student's Office Residential Portal and notify the House Administrator

Financial Aid Office website policies and procedures for Leave of Absence. Students with additional questions or concerns should contact the FAO at 617-495-1581 or faoinfo@fas.harvard.edu. International students should consult the International Office concerning their status.

The date a student goes on leave will affect the student's health insurance through Harvard. For details, review the Leave of Absence policy on the HUSHP website, or contact the Student Health Insurance Office, Member Services, at 617-495-2008 or mservices@huhs.harvard.edu.

While on Leave of Absence

Students who are granted a leave of absence during the academic year are charged tuition, room rent, the Student Services Fee, and board to the end of the period in which they leave, as indicated on the chart Students’ Financial Obligations in the Event of a Leave of Absence or Requirement to Withdraw and in Housing Policies and Deadlines. Students who have been placed on involuntary leave of absence are subject to the same rules regarding financial aid and financial obligations (room, board, tuition, etc.) that apply to undergraduates granted a voluntary leave of absence.

Use of College Services and Facilities

Libraries and other facilities may normally be used only by students who are currently registered. Students on leave or required to withdraw may not participate in extracurricular activities. Exceptions to this rule must be specifically approved in advance by the Administrative Board. The student on involuntary leave may not participate in student activities until officially allowed to register. If so instructed by the Dean of the College or the Administrative Board, a student on leave must remain away from the University campus.

Students are encouraged to consult the Office of Career Services, which may be able to assist them in making plans for their time away from the College. Students who have been granted a leave of absence or have been required to withdraw or placed on involuntary leave may at any time consult their Resident Dean.

Calendar for Returning Students

Returning students are responsible for knowing the dates relevant to their plans. Please note that you must coordinate your return with various offices: the Resident Dean’s office (dunsterhousedean@fas.harvard.edu) for business related to the Registrar and the Administrative Board, Student Financial Services, and the Dean of Students Office and the House Administrator for housing applications, cancellations, and room assignments.

October: A financial aid application must be requested from the Financial Aid Office for a spring term return. This applies to all returning students, including those whose return requires the approval of the Administrative Board. More information (including the deadline) is available from the Financial Aid Office.

October: A Returning Student Housing Application for the upcoming spring term is due to the Dean of Students Office from any student on leave who wishes to return to on-campus housing. Check the Dean of Students Office website for the specific deadline. Students who apply to return after this deadline are housed on a space available basis and given priority after all students who are guaranteed housing.

November: A Housing Contract Cancellation Form is due to the Dean of Students Office in order to cancel upcoming spring term housing. Check the Dean of Students Office website for the specific deadline. Any student who submitted a Returning Student Housing Application for the spring and wishes to cancel it must do so at this time or be subject to a late cancellation fee.

November: Email Michael and Diana with a brief statement describing how you have spent your time away and stating your intent to return to the College. Diana will then send the Registrar a Notice of Intention to Return.

January: A financial aid application must be requested from the Financial Aid Office for a fall term return. This date applies to all returning students, including those whose return requires the approval of the Administrative Board. More information (including forms) is available from the Financial Aid Office.

February: A Returning Student Housing Application for the upcoming fall term is due to the Dean of Students Office from any student on leave who wishes to return to on-campus housing. Check the Dean of Students Office website for the specific deadline. Students who apply to return after this deadline are housed on a space available basis and given priority after all students who are guaranteed housing.

May: A Housing Contract Cancellation Form is due to the Dean of Students Office in order to cancel upcoming fall term housing. Check the Dean of Students Office website for the specific deadline. Any student who submitted a Returning Student Housing Application for the fall and wishes to cancel it must do so at this time or be subject to a late cancellation fee.

June: Email Michael and Diana with a brief statement describing how you have spent your time away and stating your intent to return to the College. For a voluntary leave without complications, the office will then send the Registrar a Notice of Intention to Return.

To apply for housing, visit the Dean of Students Office website portal: Residential Portal and notify the House Administrator.

Returning Students Requiring Administrative Board Approval

Any student required to withdraw or granted a leave of absence on probation or with Board and/or UHS riders must petition the full Administrative Board to be readmitted or allowed to return. You should contact Michael to discuss the petition and supporting documents (e.g., a personal statement, a letter of recommendation from an employer, an evaluation from a UHS clinician). The Board meets on Tuesdays from August through early June so plan accordingly to avoid delaying your return to the College.

Room Assignments at Dunster

All questions regarding housing at Dunster (e.g., the housing lottery, room preferences, special accommodations) should be directed to Rachel Barbarisi, House Administrator (dn-ha@fas.harvard.edu, or 617-495-2262).

Financial Obligations 

If you receive scholarships or other financial aid, consult the Financial Aid Office concerning the financial implications of taking a leave. If you have borrowed money or received financial aid from Harvard, you must also have an exit interview at the Financial Aid Office.

International Students 

If you are an international student planning a leave, consult the International Office concerning your visa status. International students are responsible for planning ahead so that Harvard can issue them an I-20 form for the purpose of re-entering the United States. More information is available from the International Office.

For detailed information about Leaves and Returns see the Handbook for Students.