Leaves of Absence and Withdrawals

Leaves of Absence and Withdrawals

Leaves of Absence | Medical Leave
Leave for Military Duty | Re-enrollment
Withdrawal from a Semester in Progress

Leaves of Absence

Students of considerable ability sometimes perform below their capacities because of burdensome personal or family problems. In such cases, taking a leave of absence or withdrawing can have a salutary effect on a student's academic performance. Students who wish to withdraw from a term in progress, cancel registration for an upcoming term for which they have already registered, or take a planned leave of absence must consult with their Postbac Premed academic advisors and give notice of their intent to take a leave of absence. Failure to do so in a timely fashion can have financial as well as academic consequences.

Depending on the date of a student's withdrawal, loan funds already received by the student may need to be returned to the lender. Federal grant awards such as the FSEOG, Pell Grant, and GS scholarships may also be decreased. Students who withdraw should contact Student Financial Services in 202 Kent Hall to find out the status of their student accounts.

Leaves of absence for up to one year are granted to students who anticipate returning to Columbia to complete their studies. Students must notify their advisors and complete the required paperwork for a leave at least one week prior to the start of the term. Failure to file paperwork in the Postbac Premed Program Office can have academic as well as financial consequences and may lead to being dropped from the rolls of the School.

To re-enroll in the Postbac Premed Program after a leave of absence, students must complete a re-enrollment form by the required deadline.

Leave of Absence Guidelines

All correspondence from the university sent to students via US mail goes to the address on file with Student Information Services viewable via Student Services Online (SSOL). Students are responsible for making changes to that address by following the instructions on SSOL for a change of address. 

Financial Aid
  • If you borrowed under a Federal or Columbia student loan program, you will need to complete an Exit Loan Counseling Interview. You will be notified by email of your exit counseling responsibilities.
  • If you were awarded any Federal financial aid (Title IV aid) that has not disbursed to your student account and wish to know if you are eligible for a late disbursement of this aid, you must contact a counselor at the GS Office of Educational Financing.
  • You will receive email communication from the GS Office of Educational Financing which will identify any required revisions to your financial aid per federal regulations and/or GS policy.
  • It is recommended that in March you contact the GS Office of Educational Financing for information regarding forms and deadlines for financial aid applications for the upcoming academic year.
  • If you have a credit on your student account, contact the GS Office of Educational Financing to request a refund.  Students with financial aid must wait until their aid has been recalculated to request a refund.
  • Depending on the date of your withdrawal, tuition and other charges will be recalculated based on the Withdrawal Schedule established by the Trustees and published online on the University Registrar website.   
Health Insurance
For details regarding the impact of your withdrawal or leave on your student health insurance plan, please visit Columbia Health here and refer to this document.
 
Dining Services and Flexdollars
Meals and Dining Dollars are non-refundable and non-transferable, even for non-used balances. Refunds are permitted only upon official academic withdrawal from Columbia University. Refunds may be requested at the Dining Services located at 125 Wallach Hall. 
 
University Housing
Eligibility for housing is limited to students enrolled at GS full-time. You have 30 days to vacate your unit. You must contact University Apartment Housing (UAH) to terminate your lease.
 
Refunds
Students who have a credit on their student account should contact Student Financial Services to request a refund. Students with financial aid must wait until after their exit interview is completed and their aid has been recalculated to request a refund.
 
University Privileges
Swipe access to University buildings (including the libraries and Dodge Fitness Center) is suspended during a student’s leave or period of withdrawal from the School. 
 
Additional Facts and Policies for Students Withdrawing from a Term in Progress
  • Students withdrawing from a term in progress are charged a $75 administrative processing fee.
  • Depending on the date of a student's withdrawal, tuition and other charges will be recalculated based on the Withdrawal Schedule established by the Trustees and published in the Student Fees booklet.
Returning to GS
  • Students must notify their advisors of their plans to return to GS.

  • Students must submit a reenrollment petition by the appropriate deadline

    • December 15 to return in the spring

    •  May 1 to return in the summer

    • August 15 to return in the fall  

If you have an administrative referral, please refer to your letter for the exact deadline, which will always be earlier.

  • If you plan on extending your time away, you must notify your advisor before the start of each academic term.

  • Postbacs who are away from GS for more than one year, must reapply to GS through the Admissions Office.

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Involuntary Leave of Absence Policy

The Dean of Students, or his or her designee, may place a student on an Involuntary Leave of Absence for reasons of personal or community safety. This process will be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances when there is compelling information to suggest that the student is engaging in or is at heightened risk of engaging in behavior that could lead to serious injury to others, including as a result of physical or psychological illness. In addition, the Involuntary Leave process may be initiated if, based on an individualized assessment, it is determined that there is a significant risk that the student will harm him/herself, and that the risk cannot be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level through reasonable and realistic accommodations and/or on-campus supports.

This policy provides students with general information regarding an Involuntary Leave of Absence. For more specific information regarding the circumstances and processes for an Involuntary Leave of Absence, as well as conditions relevant to returning from Leave, students should refer to the Academic Policies or speak with their Dean of Students. Students are responsible for understanding the implications of an Involuntary Leave of Absence for housing, financial aid, health insurance, and progress toward the degree.

This policy will not be used in lieu of disciplinary actions to address violations of Columbia University rules, regulations, or policies. A student who has engaged in behavior that may violate rules, regulations, or policies of the University community may be subject to the dean's Discipline Process of his or her particular school. A student may be required to participate in the disciplinary process coincident with being placed on an Involuntary Leave of Absence. A student who is placed on an Involuntary Leave of Absence while on academic and/or disciplinary status will return on that same status.

Before an Involuntary Leave is considered, efforts may be made to encourage the student to take a Voluntary Leave of Absence. These procedures are described in the Voluntary Leave of Absence Policy. A readmission process may still be required of a student electing a Voluntary Leave to determine his or her readiness to return to school (e.g., whether returning to school may increase the risk of self-harm and/or harm to others).

When requesting a leave or withdrawing from GS, international students must also notify the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) immediately.

When safety is an immediate concern, the DOS (or his or her designee) may remove a student from the campus pending final decision on Involuntary Leave. If this action is deemed necessary, the student will be given notice of the removal. An opportunity to be heard by the DOS and, if desired, to appeal the final decision will be provided at a later time.

For more information, students should visit the Essential Policies website or consult their advisor in the Postbac Premed Program Office.

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Medical Leave

When students are faced with health issues that have a negative impact on study habits, course attendance, or class preparation, they are urged to consult with their Postbac Premed advisor to discuss taking a medical leave of absence from the university. Students who are hospitalized during term time or who miss class for more than two weeks due to health issues are advised to take a medical withdrawal from the term in progress. Doctors at University Health Services (UHS) as well as counselors at the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) can also help students evaluate whether a medical leave is advisable.

In exceptional cases, when there is sufficient information to suggest that as a result of physical or psychological illness, a student is engaging in or is likely to engage in behavior that could lead to injury to self or other, the Dean of Students, in consultation with UHS, CPS, and the Office of Public Safety, may place a student on an involuntary leave of absence for reasons of personal or community safety.

Required Medical Leave for Students with Eating Disorders

With eating disorders, a medical leave is sometimes necessary to protect the safety of a student. Usually this is because the student's illness is advanced enough to require hospitalization or intensive day treatment beyond the scope of University medical and psychological resources. A medical leave is also sometimes deemed necessary when an individual student's eating disorder has negatively impacted the integrity of the University's learning environment.

1. Before an involuntary medical leave is considered, efforts will be made to encourage the student to take a voluntary medical leave, thus preserving, to the extent possible, confidentiality and privacy.

2. This policy will be invoked only in extraordinary circumstances, when a student is unable or unwilling to request a voluntary medical leave of absence.

Students who wish to obtain the complete policy shold see Essential Policies or consult with their advisor in the Postbac Premed Program Office.

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Leave for Military Duty

Under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), institutions are required to readmit an individual who left school or did not accept an offer of admission in order to perform military service. The following sections explain the eligibility and readmission requirements of this policy.

Eligibility

This policy applies only to U.S. military veterans seeking readmission to the program that they previously attended; it does not apply to individuals seeking admission to a different school at Columbia. Veterans are eligible if they began their leave of absence on or after August 14, 2008.

Students are eligible for readmission under this provision if, during their leave, they performed or will perform voluntary or involuntary active duty service in the U.S. armed forces, including active duty for training and National Guard or Reserve service under federal authority, for a period of more than 30 consecutive days, and received a discharge other than dishonorable or bad conduct. In general, the cumulative length of absence and all previous absences for military service (service time only) must not exceed five years.

Requirement of Notice

If a student is planning to take a leave for military service, he or she must give advance written or verbal notice of military service to the Dean of Students, unless such notice is precluded by military necessity. To be readmitted, students must give notice (written or verbal) of their intent to reenroll to the Dean of Students no later than three years after the completion of the period of their service. If a student is recovering from a service-related injury or illness, he or she must notify the school no later than two years after their recovery.

A student who does not submit a timely notification of intent or provide an attestation within the designated time limits may not be eligible for the benefits outlined herein.

Tuition and Fees

For the first academic year in which the student returns, he or she must be readmitted with the same tuition and fees charges the student was or would have been assessed for the academic year when the student left, unless there are sufficient veterans’ educational benefits or institutional aid to pay the increased amount of tuition and fees. For subsequent academic years, the student may be charged the same tuition and fees as other students in the program.

Readmission Requirements

The school must allow the student to reenroll in the next class or classes in the same program, with the same enrollment status, number of credits, and academic standing as when he or she was last in attendance at Columbia. The student may also request a later date of admission or, if unusual circumstances require it, the institution may admit the student at a later date. If the school determines that the student is not prepared to resume the program where he or she left off, the school must make reasonable efforts at no extra cost to the student to enable the student to resume and complete the program. Such reasonable efforts include, but are not limited to, providing a refresher course and allowing the student to retake a pretest, as long as they do not place an undue hardship on the school. If reasonable efforts are unsuccessful or the school determines that there are no reasonable efforts that the school can take, the school is not required to readmit the student.

If the program to which the student was admitted is no longer offered, the student must be admitted to the program that is most similar, unless the student requests or agrees to admission to a different program.

For more information, please consult the Postbac Premed Program Office.

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Re-enrollment

Students must apply for re-enrollment through the Postbac Premed Office within one year of their last completed semester at the Postbac Premed Program. Students granted re-enrollment must return to Columbia the next semester and complete that term to maintain their academic status at GS. For example, if a student's last completed semester before taking a leave of absence is spring 2010, that student will have until spring 2011 to apply for re-enrollment.

Deadlines

Completed re-enrollment petitions are due by:

  • May 1 for summer term courses
  • August 15 for fall term courses
  • December 15 for spring term courses

Normally students who have withdrawn from the School are not allowed to resume their studies with summer session enrollment.

Students who have not petitioned for re-enrollment during the one-year time frame will lose their academic status as a Postbac Premed Program student and will need to reapply formally to the School of General Studies through the Office of Admissions.

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Withdrawal from a Semester in Progress

Circumstances occasionally require that a student withdraw from a semester in progress. Withdrawal means dropping all courses in a given term, as opposed to dropping a portion of the program. Withdrawal from a term in progress may have serious financial and academic consequences, and thus students should meet with their advisor so that they can make an informed decision. All withdrawals are noted on a student's transcript. Multiple withdrawals may lead to suspension or dismissal from the School for failure to make academic progress.

Students must notify their advisor of their intention to withdraw; notifying instructors or failing to attend classes does not constitute formal withdrawal. A student's tuition may be prorated depending on the date of the written notification of the withdrawal.

Tuition Refund Schedule

For the complete tuition refund schedule please refer to the Registrar's website.

Students who desire to return to the Postbac Premed Program after withdrawal are required at the time of re-enrollment to submit a re-enrollment form including a personal statement concerning how they have addressed the circumstances that caused them to withdraw. Students must submit this petition to their advisor by the date specified on the form relevant to the term in which they wish to return. Petitions for re-enrollment are reviewed by the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Committee on Academic Standing.

Students who withdraw from their studies after the eleventh week of the semester or for medical reasons are not allowed to return for at least four months (a minimum of one semester), to allow time to address the situation that led to the withdrawal.

Students who do not return to their studies within one year will need to reapply formally to the Postbac Premed Program through the Office of Admissions.

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