Student Life Office

Leave of Absence FAQs

A leave of absence is available for students who need to take time off from the College for a variety of reasons. Leaves of absence are usually processed before the start of a semester and can be granted for a maximum of two semesters at a time. Students may apply for a leave during a semester until week 10. Please see our tuition refund policy for more information. 

Taking a leave is a big decision that can have academic, financial and personal implications. If you would like to speak with someone about taking a leave or other options, please schedule a meeting with a dean in Student Life and review these alternatives to taking a leave of absence.

If you are considering a leave of absence, you are encouraged to initiate a leave of absence in IRIS before scheduling this meeting; this will secure you a more favorable tuition refund if you do decide to take a leave of absence. If you decide not to take a leave you can cancel your LOA request without penalty.

We recommend you continue to attend classes until you have made an official decision to take a leave of absence to avoid falling behind on work if you do decide to remain enrolled for the semester. 

LOA Process 

The Student Life Office coordinates the Leave of Absence process in collaboration with several partnering offices.

What are the steps for taking a leave of absence?

To take a leave of absence, students must submit a leave and withdrawal request form in IRIS and follow the instructions found here. Students are expected to complete the process within five business days of initiating a leave of absence or their leave request will be canceled.

What happens if I do not complete the process within five business days?

Your leave request will be canceled, and you will remain enrolled. If you still intend to take a leave of absence, you must contact the Student Life Office to re-initiate your request with a new effective date. A changed effective date will affect your tuition refund or owe.

When is the deadline to take a leave of absence?

Students can initiate a leave of absence before the semester at any time. We recommend students initiate their leave and complete the leave of absence paperwork at least three weeks before the start of the semester to avoid any unnecessary billing or tuition charges.

If a student wants to initiate a leave during the semester, they can do so any time before the Monday of Week 10 of the semester. See academic calendar for specific dates. 

How long can I take a leave of absence?

Students can take a leave of absence for one or two semesters at a time. A student can extend their leave for no more than four consecutive semesters.

How can I extend my leave of absence?

To extend your leave, you must complete another Leave and Withdrawal Request form in IRIS. You will need to speak with a dean in Student Life and notify your faculty adviser, Financial Aid, and the Business Office of your extension.

Is there a limit to the number of times a student may take a leave of absence?

There is no restriction on the number of leaves a student may take. However, students cannot take a leave more than four consecutive semesters in length without a period of re-enrollment.

What if I want to return from my leave of absence early?

If you would like to return earlier than you originally expected, please contact the Student Life Office and the Registrar’s Office as soon as possible to help coordinate your return. We encourage you to also contact the Business Office, Financial Aid, International Student Services (if applicable) and Residence Life (if applicable) as soon as you know you will be returning to Reed. See Returning from a Leave of Absence for more information.

What happens if I did not return from my leave and I did not extend it, but I later decide that I would like to return?

Students who did not return from their leave of absence and did not formally extend their leave must apply for readmission through the Registrar’s Office to return to Reed. See Returning from a Leave of Absence for more information.


If I plan to take a LOA during a semester, will my registration for those classes be automatically canceled?

Yes. Your registration for classes will be canceled and your instructors will be notified by the Registrar’s Office once your leave of absence is in effect. 

What will be recorded on my transcript for semesters when I’m on an LOA?

What is recorded on your transcript depends on the time of the semester you take your leave:

  • If your leave will begin before the drop deadline appropriate for your course (semester-long or year-long), no record of your attendance will be recorded on your transcript for that semester.
  • If your leave begins after the drop deadline, “W” for withdrawal will be entered in your transcript for those courses for that semester.

Please consult the current Academic Calendar for these dates and deadlines. If you have further questions, please contact the Registrar’s Office.

What happens if I am in a year-long class (e.g. Hum 110), and I take a leave for the second semester of the class?

Students who have completed the first half of a year-long course and subsequently take a leave of absence before finishing the class will be withdrawn from that year-long course, same as they will be withdrawn from all their courses. However, if the student earned a satisfactory grade in the first half and does not wish to repeat the entire course, they can request "credit for half of a year-long course" and then pick up the Spring semester at a later time. Instructors can grant credit for one semester of a yearlong course by signing the credit for one semester of a year course form.

Can I take classes at other institutions while on a leave of absence?

Yes, you may take classes at another institution during your leave. Students should complete the Transfer of Credit form with the Registrar's Office before enrolling at another institution. This enables students to know whether and how the course or courses will apply to the Reed degree.

If you are a financial aid recipient, please check with the Financial Aid to determine whether there are any financial aid implications for taking classes while on a leave.

Class Year & Student Status

If I am an international student. What do I need to know about visas, immigration documents, and other related matters?

International students must speak with the program director for International Student Services to discuss their visa program status, departure to (and return from) their home country, and other considerations. Please contact ISS at to schedule an appointment. 

How is the process of taking time off different if I'm an incoming student (new first year or transfer student)?

Registration is the determining factor in whether an individual is considered a current student or an incoming student. Students who are new to Reed and have not yet registered for classes are eligible to defer. Generally students who defer may only do so for a full year, not a semester. Please contact the Office of Admission for further information on deferment.

If an incoming student is registered for classes, they will be considered a current student and they will not have the option to defer and must take a Leave of Absence instead. PLEASE NOTE FOR FALL 2020: Incoming students are registered early this year, so please contact the Office of Admission about deferring if you have not yet started classes. 

Will the scheduling of my junior qualifying exam be affected by my plans to take an LOA?

You are encouraged to talk to your faculty adviser about how your leave may affect your timing for taking your department’s Qual. See Questions to Ask your Faculty Adviser about Taking a Leave.

What if I am a second semester senior?

A senior who takes a leave of absence in the second semester of a two-semester thesis will receive a "W" for two units of thesis.

When you return, you will have three options for moving forward on your thesis:

  1. Pick up where you left off (with thesis adviser approval), redoing the second semester and completing your original thesis. Once the project is completed, the "W" for fall will be replaced by the thesis grade recorded at the end of the semester of return.
  2. Start a new two-semester thesis, lengthening the degree program by one semester. The two units of "W" for the first year will remain on your transcript.
  3. To start a new one-semester thesis (with department and division approval for the one-unit thesis and Administration Committee approval for an unusual senior year). The two units of "W" for the first year remain on the transcript.

You are encouraged to talk to your thesis and faculty adviser about how your leave may affect your thesis and your options for completing it when you return. See Questions to Ask your Faculty Adviser about Taking a Leave.

How is the process of taking time off different if I'm a MALS student?

Students in the MALS program should contact the Director of Special Programs Barbara Amen directly for more information.

Financial Aid & Tuition Refunds

Students are encouraged to consult with the Business Office and Financial Aid before making the decision to take a leave of absence, whenever possible.

  • Please review Reed's tuition refund policy
  • Students are advised to initiate their leave in IRIS before the end of the weekend whenever possible to secure a more favorable tuition refund.
  • The Business Office prepares a worksheet to calculate whether there will be a refund or a balance due after the leave is processed. An estimated worksheet will be prepared upon request. 

What happens to any payments that I already paid to the Business Office for the remainder of the semester/year?

  • Depending on your leave effective date, you may owe additional funds to the college. 
  • If a leave results in a credit balance, the College will issue a refund or request refund instructions. 

Please contact the Business Office with questions about tuition refunds. A copy of the worksheet mentioned above will be mailed to the student once the leave is finalized. 

How does my leave affect my eligibility for subsequent financial aid, and what happens to the financial aid I have received for the semester/year?

A leave does not affect your eligibility for financial aid in the future; however, an unfinished semester may be counted as one semester of financial aid eligibility used. Lifetime loan aggregate limits apply and the amounts that you retain for an unfinished semester will be counted toward this aggregate limit. The Business Office determines how much, if any, of your current financial aid must be repaid to the financial aid programs and how much financial aid you are eligible to retain. This calculation is based on your leave date, which may be different than your move out date if you are living on campus.

Please consult with Financial Aid and the Business Office about possible financial implications for taking a leave of absence. You may or may not owe depending on your individual situation.

What do I do if I purchased Dewar Insurance?

Please contact the Business Office for more information. 

What if I have a Direct Student Loan?

You will need to complete an online exit interview for your Direct Student Loan. The six-month grace period for your Federal Direct Loan begins after your last day of attendance at Reed. During this grace period, interest accrues but no payments are due. Repayment on your Direct Student loan begins after your six month grace period. Please note that borrowers are eligible for only one grace period on your Direct Student Loan.

What if I have a Federal Perkins Loan?

You will need to do an exit interview for your Perkins Loan through our loan service provider, University Accounting Services (UAS).  Please be aware you will not have access to transcripts or to SOLAR until you complete your exit counseling.

Your initial nine-month grace period on your Perkins Loan will begin after the date of last attendance at the College. During this grace period no interest accrues and no payments are due. Repayment on the loan will begin nine-months after your last date of attendance. 

What if I have a Reed Loan?

You will need to complete the Reed Loan “Payout Loan Note” and “Truth in Lending” requirements regardless of your future plans. The Business Office will contact you via email with specific instructions after your leave of absence paperwork is completed. Please note that you will not have access to transcripts or to SOLAR until these requirements are completed.

What if I have a parent or private loan?

Typically private and parent loans do not have a grace period. Please consult Financial Aid and/or your private loan servicer.

What do I have to do to get financial aid when I come back from a LOA?

Reed students who have been granted a leave of absence must apply for financial assistance on the same basis as continuing students, with the same forms, supporting documents, and deadlines. See Returning from a Leave of Absence for more information.

On-Campus Housing 

Students who live on campus and take a leave of absence will have their room and board contract cancelled for the semester/s they plan to be on leave. Students who take a leave during the semester will have five business days to move out of the residence halls after submitting their leave request in IRIS. Please read Moving Out of On-Campus Housing for more information about the move out process and storage.

What happens to my housing contract?

When you take a leave, your room and board contract terminates on the effective date of your leave. If you return your room key and there is no damage to your room, you will not receive any additional charges.

Your housing contract or assignments for any future semesters will also be cancelled. You must re-apply for housing for the semester of your return following the instructions covered in Returning from a Leave of Absence

What if my leave begins over winter break?

If you initiate a leave during winter break, you must seek special permission from the Assistant Dean of Residence Life ( to access your room to remove your belongings when the residence halls are closed. Students on a leave are not allowed to occupy their rooms overnight without permission from Residence Life.

Can I visit friends in the residence hall and stay overnight while I am on a leave?

The Residence Life Guest policy allows current students in the residence hall to host a guest for up to 14 days a semester with approval from the roommate(s) if applicable. As a guest you would need to be accompanied by your host while on campus. Please refer to the housing contract for more information.

Access To Campus Services

While on a leave of absence, you will have limited access to campus services, programs and facilities. Please contact the Student Life Office if you have any questions about what services you can access while on your leave.

Will I keep my on-campus mailbox?

No. Due to a limited number of campus mailboxes, students who are on leave are unable to retain their campus mailbox. Mail will be sent to the forwarding address provided by the student on their leave request form. Students should also update their IRIS account with a forwarding address. It is possible to forward your mail overseas - however, the effectiveness of this option varies between countries. When you return from your leave, a new mailbox will be assigned to you.

Will I continue to have access to my Reed email account?

Yes. Your Reed email account will remain active during your leave of absence. We encourage you to check your Reed email account while on your leave, as the college may continue to send you important information to help you plan your return, such as financial aid deadlines and registration instructions. Computer User Services will notify you via your Reed email account before taking any action on your account.

Can I keep my Reed student ID card while I am on a leave?

Yes. Your card will automatically be disabled when you take a leave but you can keep your card. When you return, your access privileges will be restored upon registration. If you lose your card while on a leave, visit Community Safety in 28 West for a new Reed student ID card.

May I use the library while I am on leave?

Students on a leave of absence are normally welcome to visit the library and have access to limited borrowing privileges; due to current COVID-19 campus protocols, this access has been suspended with off-campus visitors not allowed on campus.

Can I continue to use the services of the Health & Counseling Center?

Students on a leave of absence do not have access to the on-campus health and counseling center staff or services.

Do I lose my Reed health insurance?

If you attended at least 30 days of a semester and did not waive the health insurance, you will continue to be covered by the student health insurance for that semester.   A semester begins on the first day of classes. 

The Affordable Care Act allows individuals to purchase insurance whether they have a pre-existing condition or not so you will be able to purchase an individual plan through the marketplace.

Here you can learn more about Reed’s health insurance coverage. Please contact the Business Office if you have questions about your health insurance coverage while on a leave of absence.

May I use the resources of Academic Support Services?

Since students on leave are not enrolled in classes, they are not eligible for the services offered by Academic Support, including tutoring, coaching, attending workshops, or use of the Dorothy Johansen House. Exceptions to this policy may apply to students who are eligible to return in the following semester and would like to meet with Academic Support staff to discuss strategies for success before returning to class.

May I access resources in The Center for Life Beyond Reed?

Students on a leave of absence can make an appointment with one of the CLBR advisors who can help them identify their purpose, shape their narrative, practice for interviews, review their documents (resume, cover letters, LinkedIn, etc), apply for internships/jobs/graduate school/med school/law school, reach out to alumni in their fields of interest, and make a plan for what's next. In addition, students on a leave have access to Handshake, Reed's job posting platform, as well as recorded webinars about job searching and grad school. Contact Center for Life Beyond Reed.

May I use the Sports Center?

Students on a leave of absence are not eligible to use the Sports Center, take classes, compete on teams or participate in Reed Outing Club events.

May I participate in campus or student group events, like SEEDS trips or Gray Fund events?

Students on a leave of absence are not eligible to participate in student group events or college-sponsored trips. Students on leave are able to attend campus-wide events as the guest of a current Reed student.

May I be in student organization spaces, register an event, or signate?

No. Only current Reed students are able to receive senate and other funds, reserve space, signate, or sign contracts on behalf of a student event.

Can I attend Renn Fayre while I am on leave?

Students on a leave of absence are not issued a pass bracelet but are able to attend Renn Fayre as the guest of an enrolled student.

Am I permitted to work on campus?

Students on leave are not eligible for student employment. Your campus employer and the Student Payroll Specialist in the Business Office will be notified when you take a leave of absence.

If you are working on campus or through an off-campus Federal Work Study (FWS) Internship program, you must stop working on or before the date your leave begins and notify your supervisor that you will not be able to continue working. Please be certain to turn in your final timesheet to the Business Office before you depart.

Students who are expected to return for the fall semester are eligible to begin work as early as July 1. For students returning for the spring semester, eligibility to work on-campus begins at the start of Paidea.

What if I have other obligations such as volunteer work or campus committees?

Students on a leave of absence are ineligible to serve on campus committees or hold positions in community governance. Please notify any groups if your change in status will affect your ability to participate in any committees or governance.

Will I be able to continue charging purchases at the Bookstore?

Your Bookstore account will be deactivated when your leave of absence begins. You will need to pay any balance owed to the bookstore and return any outstanding rental books before you leave or as soon as possible afterward, prior to the due date. The bookstore will transfer your balance to the Business Office to consolidate all charges that might be due in one place.

Will I have access to computer facilities?

Students on a leave do not have access to computer resources.

Returning To Reed

Please see Returning from a Leave of Absence to help you plan for your return to Reed.


Please contact the Student Life Office if you have any questions about taking a leave of absence, or other alternative options. 

The Student Life Office
Location: Eliot Hall 218
Hours: Monday–Friday, 9–5 pm; closed noon–1 pm
Telephone: 503-517-7396