Leaves of Absence, Withdrawals,
and Reinstatement

Leaves of absence allow a temporary interruption of one's studies with the expectation that they will resume their studies at the end of the term of the leave. Students on an official leave of absence are exempt from the continuous registration requirement.

 

Withdrawals entail giving formal notice that one is leaving the university without intending to return. 

 

Reinstatement is the process of returning to the university after an unapproved interruption of studies.

Leaves of Absence

 

A leave of absence allows students who must interrupt their studies to be exempt from the Continuous Registration requirement. Students at the School of the Arts may be granted a leave of absence for either a sustained medical condition that prevents attendance or for required military duty. Leaves of absence are granted by the Dean of Student and Alumni Affairs in consulatation with the student's program Chair and/or Director of Academic Administration. Leave for a given semester cannot be processed at any time after the final day of classes for that semester. Students are required to check their Columbia email while on leave as this is the official means of communication used by the University.

 

Students who intend to take a leave of absence must notify the School of the Arts by submitting the Leave of Absence Form to soastudentaffairs@columbia.edu. Until students are informed by the Office of Student Affairs that the leave has been processed, they should assume that they are registered or will be required to register and will be expected to fulfill their academic responsibilities, including completing coursework.  

 

Students who take a leave of absence or who do not register for the semester are not considered to be active Columbia students, and will not be able to fulfill requirements for the degree while they are not registered and/or on leave. Students will not receive any financial aid, including scholarships, loan disbursements, or stipends while on leave. If a student is receiving funds from an external source, it is their responsibility to verify their funding agency’s rules concerning leaves of absence.

 

It is the student’s responsibility to contact their program’s Director of Academic Administration and the Dean of Student and Alumni Affairs to request a continuation of the leave (if applicable) or to provide notification that they will rejoin the program at the end of the leave. If the student fails to notify the program and/or the Dean of Student and Alumni Affairs regarding the status of his or her leave at the end of the leave term, the student will be officially withdrawn from the program and must reapply during the next admissions cycle. Information on the readmission of former students information can be found here.

 

Students who have not registered for any classes or an enrollment category by the end of the change of program period will not be allowed to enroll that term and must file for a leave of absence or withdrawal. 

 

Medical Leaves of Absence

A student who must temporarily interrupt their studies because of an illness or injury resulting in a sustained medical condition that prevents attendance may take a medical leave of absence, contingent upon the submission of documentation from a healthcare professional confirming that the student is unable to engage in their graduate studies. The medical provider must submit such documentation by fax to (212-854-7733) or by email to soastudentaffairs@columbia.edu no later than one week after the student submits the Leave of Absence Form. The documentation may include a statement as to when the student can be expected to resume their studies.

 

Students in the School of the Arts may take a medical leave at any time. Medical leaves, however, are available only to students whose academic and administrative standing (as defined by the student’s program and the School of the Arts) permits them to continue in the degree program when they return from leave. Medical leaves are granted one semester at a time for a maximum of one year, though leaves may be granted for one year if the student's curriculum does not allow for a return after one semester. 

 

While on leave, students must be actively engaged in a course of medical treatment for the condition(s) that occasioned the leave. Medical leave for a given semester cannot be processed at any time after the final day of classes for that semester. 

 

Leave for Military Duty    

A student who must interrupt study temporarily to fulfill a compulsory military obligation for a specific length of time may take a military leave of absence to fulfill that obligation. The student seeking a military leave of absence must provide the Office of Student Affairs written documentation from the appropriate military authorities (including dates of the period of obligation). Such documentation should be sent to soastudentaffairs@columbia.edu.

 

A military leave is available only to students whose academic and administrative standing (as defined by the student’s department or program and the School of the Arts) permits them to continue in the degree program when they return from leave.

 

See below for information regarding health insurance for students on military leave.

 

Refund of Tuition and Fees

All students who withdraw or take a leave of absence during a semester in which they are registered are charged a $75 withdrawal fee. Tuition is refunded on a prorated basis, ordinarily calculated from the date on which the Office of Student Affairs receives the request for withdrawal or leave of absence. No fees are refunded after the second week of the semester. The Registrar’s office publishes the refund rates of tuition and fees based on the week in the semester during which the withdrawal or leave is processed. 

 

Transcript and Registration

Leaves for a given semester are processed at any point prior to 5:00 p.m. on the final day of classes for that semester. (Please consult the School of the Arts Academic Calendar to determine the date of the final day of classes.) Once a leave is processed, courses and grades (if already recorded) for the semester in progress are expunged from the student’s record. Students who submit leave paperwork after 5:00 p.m. on the final day of classes will be placed on leave for the subsequent semester, and the courses and grades for the semester in progress will be preserved on the transcript.

 

Students taking a leave of absence are not considered to be registered Columbia students, and will not be able to fulfill requirements for the degree during the leave. Official leaves are entered on a student’s permanent academic record. The period of the leave is not counted toward the time allowed for completion of the degree requirements. The period of the leave will not be counted toward the time allowed for completion of an Incomplete (see Grading System for details). 

 

Loans, Fellowships, and Other Financial Aid

Students should contact the School of the Arts Financial Aid Office for information about the effect of taking a leave of absence on loans and fellowships. A student who is approved for a leave of absence after receiving financial aid for the semester may be required to return a portion of the aid previously received. Student borrowers are given a six month grace period on most types of federal loans starting at the date enrollment ceases. Once a grace period is used on a specific loan, the student will be required to enter repayment on their federal educational loans until they return to school; however, deferment or forbearance options may be available if the student makes a request to their lender. 

 

Prior to returning from a leave of absence, students who previously received institutional support from the School in the form of scholarships, service positions and/or teaching assignments should make an appointment with the School of the Arts Financial Aid Office at soafinaid@columbia.edu by the following deadlines to discuss available financial resources:

 

  • March 1 if returning in the following Fall semester

  • December 1 if returning in the following Spring semester

 

The same level of support cannot be guaranteed upon a student's return.

See below for information regarding health insurance for students on medical leave.

 

Use of Facilities and Services While on Leave

Students on leave are not registered, and therefore may not use University facilities. Email accounts are normally suspended within six to nine months after the leave is processed. However, students on leave who have previously been awarded a Columbia degree may, as alumni, retain access to their Lionmail email account and use facilities such as the libraries. See the Columbia Alumni Association website for more information.

 

University Housing

Housing eligibility is dependent on full-time registration in an approved degree program. Student residents who take a leave of absence or withdraw from the University are no longer eligible for housing and are required to move out of housing within 30 days of their eligibility status change. Cancellation fees may apply. Students should review the cancellation policy for more information. 

 

Students with exceptional health care needs resulting from critical, acute conditions, and who take a medical leave of absence, may request to remain in housing beyond the 30 day period offered by Columbia Residential. Students should contact Disability Services prior to the start of their medical leave for information on how to apply for this accommodation. The Disability Housing Committee evaluates such requests on an individualized basis, and approval is not guaranteed.

 

Please visit the Columbia Residential website for more information.

 

Students who vacate a Columbia Residential apartment to take a leave of absence remain eligible for University housing upon their return, although it is not guaranteed. Students returning from a leave who wish to apply for University housing for the fall semester should contact the School of the Arts Office of Student Affairs at soastudentaffairs@columbia.edu by May 1; to apply for the spring semester, contact our office by November 1. An application for housing should be submitted to Columbia Residential as well. 

 

Health Insurance

For information regarding eligibility for health insurance while on an approved medical leave of absence, students should read the “Medical Leave of Absence” section of the Student Health Insurance Plan website and contact the Health Insurance Office for further important information regarding eligibility. 

 

Students on military leaves are not eligible to remain on the Columbia Health Insurance plan nor do they retain access to Columbia Health Services. Enrollment in the Columbia Health Insurance plan for non-medical leaves will be terminated on the last day of the month in which the leave is processed. For questions regarding refunds, students should contact the Health Insurance Office.

 

Visa Information

Students on an F-1 or J-1 visa who intend to take a leave of absence must contact the International Students and Scholars Office as soon as possible.

 

Returning from a Leave of Absence

Students must submit a Return from Leave of Absence Form no later than July 15 if they plan to return for the fall semester, and no later than December 1 if they plan to return for the spring semester (see “Loans, Fellowships, and Other Financial Aid” for information regarding financial aid upon return).

 

Students returning from a medical leave must also submit to Columbia Health (see below for specific addresses) a letter from the health-care professional who provided treatment for the condition that occasioned the leave. Such letters must contain the following information:

 

  • a description of the treatment the student received, including medications the student was prescribed for the condition that warranted the leave

  • the health-care professional’s impression regarding the student’s readiness to resume their studies

  • any recommendations regarding continued treatment after the student has resumed his or her studies

 

Letters addressing psychiatric and psychological conditions should be sent directly to Dr. Allan Cassorla by fax (212-854-9473) or by email (aac4@columbia.edu). Letters addressing medical conditions should be sent directly to Dr. Brenda Aiken by email (ba220@columbia.edu). In cases where a student has received both medical and psychiatric/psychological treatment, or the diagnosis is unclear, the relevant health-care professional(s) should submit their letter(s) to both Dr. Cassorla and Dr. Aiken. Letters written in a language other than English must be accompanied by an English translation. All letters supporting a student’s return must be sent no later than July 31 for students planning to return in the fall semester, and no later than December 15 for students planning to return in the spring semester.

 

Dr. Cassorla and/or Dr. Aiken will review all letters and either approve the return or request additional information. In some cases, students will be asked to schedule an in-person consultation. 

 

Once approved to return, students may register during their assigned registration appointment times.

 

Students who have decided not to return from a leave of absence should complete the Withdrawal Form. The complete policy regarding withdrawals is available below.

Withdrawals

 

Withdrawal is the act of formally giving notice that one is leaving the university without intending to return at a future time. 

 

Students who intend to withdraw from the university must submit the Withdrawal Form to soastudentaffairs@columbia.edu. Until students are notified by the School of the Arts that the withdrawal has been processed, they should assume that they are registered and expected to fulfill their academic and/or financial responsibilities, including completing course work.

 

Refud of Tuition and Fees

All students who withdraw during a semester in which they are registered are charged a $75 withdrawal fee. Tuition is refunded on a prorated basis, ordinarily calculated from the date on which the School of the Arts receives the Withdrawal Form from the student. No fees are refunded after the second week of the semester. The Registrar's office publishes a schedule of refunds for tuition and fees based on the week in the semester during which the withdrawal is processed.

 

Transcript and Registration

Withdrawals may be processed at any point in a given semester before 5:00 p.m. on the final day of classes for that semester. (Please consult the School of the Arts Academic Calendar to determine the date of the final day of classes.) Once a withdrawal is processed, courses and grades for the semester in progress are expunged from the student’s record. Students who submit withdrawal paperwork after 5:00 p.m. on the final day of classes will be withdrawn from the subsequent semester, and the courses and grades for the semester in progress will be preserved on the transcript.

 

Loans, Fellowships, and Other Financial Aid

Students should contact the School of the Arts Financial Aid Office at soafinaid@columbia.edu for information about the effect of taking a withdrawal on loans and fellowships. 

 

Use of Facilities and Services

A student who has withdrawn may not use university facilities. Email accounts are normally suspended within six to nine months after the withdrawal is processed. Please note that students who have withdrawn but have previously been awarded a Columbia degree may, as alumni, retain access to their LionMail email account and use facilities such as the libraries. See the Columbia Alumni Association website for more information.

 

University Housing

Students must be registered to remain in Columbia housing. Students who plan to withdraw should contact Columbia Residential regarding the date by which they will be expected to vacate.

 

Health Insurance

Once withdrawn, students are not eligible to remain on the Columbia Health Insurance plan, nor do they retain access to Columbia Health Services. Enrollment in the Columbia Health Insurance plan will be terminated on the last day of the month in which the student withdraws or is withdrawn. For questions regarding refunds, students should contact the Health Insurance Office.

 

Visa Information

Students on an F-1 or J-1 visa who intend to withdraw must contact the International Students and Scholars Office as soon as possible.