Student Life Office

Medical Leave of Absence FAQs

A medical leave of absence (MLOA) may be available for students who have medical or psychological conditions that severely limit their ability to perform their academic work. 

Taking a medical leave is a big decision that can have academic, financial and personal implications. If you would like to speak with someone about your situation and options, please contact the Student Life Office to schedule a meeting with a dean. You are also encouraged to consult with the Health and Counseling Center about whether you qualify for a medical leave. If you are interested in exploring other options, please see Alternatives to Taking a Leave of Absence

If you are considering taking a medical leave of absence, you are encouraged to initiate the medical leave of absence in IRIS as soon as possible; an earlier initiation day may secure you a more favorable tuition refund. If you decide not to take a leave you can cancel your medical leave request in IRIS without penalty.  If you are considering taking a medical leave of absence during a semester, please review our tuition refund policy.

Whenever possible, you are encouraged to continue to attend classes until you have made an official decision to take a medical leave of absence to avoid falling behind on work if you do decide to remain enrolled for the semester.

MLOA Process Questions

The Student Life Office coordinates the Medical Leave of Absence process.

What are the steps for taking a medical leave of absence?

To take a medical leave of absence, students must complete the Medical Leave of Absence request form in IRIS (found under "Request Time Away") 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 medical leave request will be canceled, and you will remain enrolled. If you still intend to take a medical leave of absence, you must contact the Student Life Office to re-initiate your request with a new effective date. A changed effective date may affect your tuition refund or owe.

When is the deadline to take a medical leave of absence?

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

If a student needs to initiate a medical leave during the semester, they can do so at any time up to the last day of classes. Please see the academic calendar for this date.

If you are a recipient of financial aid, please note that if you remain enrolled for more than 60% of the semester, you may lose a full semester of financial aid. The 60% of the semester mark usually falls a few days before Week 10 of the semester. Students receiving financial aid are encouraged to consult Financial Aid ( about how taking a medical leave after Week 10 will affect their financial aid.

How long can I take a medical leave?

A medical leave may be in effect a maximum of four consecutive semesters.

How do I apply to return to Reed from a medical leave?

Students on medical leave must secure approval from the Dean of Students or designee to return. In order to endorse your return to Reed, you will need to submit a personal letter requesting to return from medical leave and the provider questionnaire to the Student Life Office. 

The letter should describe how you used your time away, including: what you have done to manage the medical/psychological situation that resulted in the interruption of your studies, and why you believe that you are ready to return to Reed College.

Students on a medical leave of absence cannot register for the upcoming semester until they have been officially approved to return. Students can apply for on-campus housing and financial aid before being approved to return.

Please see Returning from a Medical Leave for more information.

What happens if I did not return from my medical leave after four semesters, but I later decide that I would like to return?

Students who do not return from their medical leave after four semesters must apply for readmission through the Registrar’s Office in addition to applying to return from their medical leave.

Registration & Class Questions

If I plan to take a medical leave 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 medical leave of absence is in effect. 

What will be recorded on my transcript for semesters when I’m on a medical leave?

What is recorded on your transcript depends on the time of the semester you take your medical 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.

Any additional semesters on a medical leave will not be recorded on your transcript unless you withdrew from a year-long class. Year long courses will show a “W” for both semesters.

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

May I take classes at other institutions while on medical leave?

Unless the conditions of your medical leave prevent you from attending another school, you may take classes elsewhere while on leave. Students should complete the Transfer of Credit form 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 Office of Financial Aid to determine whether there are any financial aid implications for taking classes while on a medical leave.

Class Year & Student Status

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

International students must speak with Gwen Sandford, Program Director for International Student Services (ISS), to discuss their visa program status, departure to (and return from) their home country, and other considerations. Once you initiate your request to take a medical leave, contact ISS for a meeting.

How is the process of taking a medical leave different if I'm an incoming student (e.g. 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 deferPlease contact the Office of Admission for further information on deferment.

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 medical 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 medical 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 about taking time off from the MALS program.

Financial Aid & Tuition Refunds

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

  • Please note that Reed's tuition refund schedule is on a Monday to Sunday schedule, with the tuition refund amount decreasing every Monday (90%, 80, 65, 50, 35, 25, 15, 10, and 0% after week 8).
  • 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 medical 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 medical 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 medical 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, however, do 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 medical leave initiation date.

Please be certain to discuss with the Financial Aid Office and Business Office any money you may owe (that is, aid to be repaid) as a result of taking a medical leave of absence. Depending on your individual situation, you may or may not owe.

Are there financial aid implications that would result from taking multiple leaves?

There may be depending on when the medical leaves are taken. Every student's situation is different and must be reviewed individually by Financial Aid. Please contact Financial Aid for more information.

What happens if I purchased Dewar Insurance?

To access your insurance, there are two Dewar forms that must be completed. You can also obtain these forms from the HCC or the Business Office. The student (if of legal age) or parent/legal guardian completes the first section of each form and then sends one form to the Business Office and the other to the student’s attending physician. The completed forms are then sent to Dewar for processing.

Dewar may return 70% of your insured term tuition and fees. Pleaseplease contact Dewar at or 617-774-1555.

What if I have a Direct Student Loan?

You will need to complete an online exit interview for your Direct Student Loan. You will not have access to SOLAR or your transcripts until you complete your exit interview.

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.

If you plan to be unavailable during your medical leave, please contact your Direct Student Loan servicer before you leave about when your loan payments will be due, and to make arrangements in advance for payment. If you do not know your servicer, the Financial Aid Office can assist you.

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 SOLAR or your transcripts 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 medical 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.

How do I apply for financial aid for when I return to Reed?

Reed students on a medical leave of absence must apply for financial assistance on the same basis as continuing students, with the same forms, supporting documents, and deadlines.

Financial aid cannot be awarded until you have been formally readmitted from your medical leave; however, as long as your financial aid application is complete by the May 1 deadline, you will be considered for financial aid once you are approved to return. See Returning from a Medical Leave 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. 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 medical 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 medical 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 medical leave of absence, you will have limited access to campus services and programs. Please contact the Dean of Students’ 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 a medical leave are unable to retain their campus mailbox. Mail will be sent to the forwarding address provided by the student on their LOA 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 students return from their medical leave, a new mailbox will be assigned to them by the Registrar's Office.

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

Yes. Your Reed email account will remain active during your leave. 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.

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

Students on a medical leave of absence do not have access to the on-campus health and counseling center staff or services. However, a student’s health insurance may cover services in the Portland area. The Health and Counseling Center can assist students in connecting to community health resources at the time the student takes their medical leave.

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 term.   

If you were covered by Reed health insurance in the fall and take a medical leave of absence the following spring semester, you have the option to purchase Reed health insurance coverage for spring if a medical provider certifies the necessity of the medical leave and you do so before the end of January.

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.

Please see Health Insurance for more information. You may contact the Business Office if you have questions about your health insurance coverage.

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 use the library while I am on leave?

Students on a medical leave of absence are welcome as visitors in the library but are not granted borrowing privileges.

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

Students on a medical leave of absence can continue to use the Center for Life Beyond Reed for career counseling, résumé and/or job search help. In addition, many valuable resources are on the Center for Life Beyond Reed web site, including job and internship postings and contact information for our alumni volunteers.

May I use the Sports Center?

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

May I attend Renn Fayre while on a medical leave?

Students on medical leave are not permitted to attend Renn Fayre (even as a guest of an enrolled student) while their medical leave is in effect. Petitions for exceptions to this may be submitted to the Dean of Students ( and to Health and Counseling ( and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The deadline for submitting a petition is two weeks before the first day of Renn Fayre. If approved, a student may attend Renn Fayre as a guest of a current Reed student.

Am I permitted to work on campus?

Students on a medical 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 medical 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 medical 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 approved 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 week in January.

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.

May I serve on campus committees or hold community governance positions?

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

Returning From MLOA

Please see Returning from a Medical Leave for more information on how to return from a Medical Leave, including important deadlines for on-campus housing and financial aid.


You are also encouraged to contact the Student Life Office if you have questions about taking your Medical Leave. 

The Student Life Office
Location: Eliot Hall 218
Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; closed at lunch
Telephone: 503-517-7396