Students take time off by way of four different sorts of leave of absence:
- Dean’s Leave (without conditions)
- Dean’s Leave with Conditions
- Medical Leave
- College Leave
Students and their families are sometimes understandably concerned about the financial and other practical implications of going on leave. Here is some of the most commonly-sought information (for a fuller discussion of leave-related policies, please consult the Academic Regulations section in the College Catalog):
Tuition and Fees: If you take leave on the first day of class in any given semester, anything your family has already paid toward tuition, room, and board will be refunded in full, less a per-day fee for room and board. If you go on leave thereafter, the amount you will be refunded from tuition, room, and board will decrease in increments over the first ten weeks of the semester (please consult the “Refund Policy” schedule published on the student accounts page of the Business Office website).
Financial Aid: The College promises every qualified student 8 semesters of financial aid, and this typically means 8 completed semesters. That is, if you go on Dean’s Leave (or Medical Leave) prior to the end of a semester, then that semester will not ordinarily count as one of the 8 in which you might get aid.
Student Loans: Haverford does not require students to take on debt as part of its aid packages, but some students nevertheless decide to take out loans. If you have taken out loans, please consult with your lender about the implications of taking time off, as they will eventually require you to begin repayment of your loans, although in many cases you can expect a “grace period” before becoming subject to repayment; banks might also grant a forbearance, which is a delay of repayment, albeit at some additional cost.
Residency: Although the College does not normally require students to stay away from campus while on Dean’s Leave (or any other sort of leave), it can do so. Normally, however, students are welcome to visit their friends while on leave without getting permission to do so, but they need to keep in mind that the duration of a “visit” is a few days. Anything significantly longer than a few days amounts to being in residence, and the dormitories are intended only for active students. There are many reasons for this, but suffice it to say that taking any sort of leave will typically have the intended impact if a student does exactly what the name implies: leaves, and thereby gets a break and the ability to gain perspective. If you feel you have a legitimate need to be in the dorms for more than a few days while on leave, please contact your Dean, but please note that permission to stay for such durations will be granted only in the most extraordinary circumstances.
The procedures for going on each of the four types of leave are different:
The Dean’s Leave (without conditions) is wholly voluntary, and this is the sort of leave the great majority of students take. Although you should consult with your Dean before doing so, the procedure for taking a Dean’s Leave is pretty simple: send your Dean an email that says, “Please place me on Dean’s Leave, effective [specify date].”
You can declare your intention to go on Dean’s Leave at any time, but if you do so after the last day of class, you must finish all degree requirements for that semester, and you will be held responsible for earning satisfactory grades for that semester. If you suspect, in the weeks and days leading up to the last day of class, that you cannot finish your final exams and papers on time and/or that you are likely to earn unsatisfactory final grades, you need to consult with your Dean immediately about whether taking leave before the last day of class might be a wise option. Students who do not earn satisfactory final grades, for whatever reason, will be subject to review by the Committee on Student Standing and Programs (CSSP) even if they will have gone on leave by the time CSSP meets to discuss final grades.
Medical Leave: Although you should make the Catalog’s discussion of the Medical Leave your principal point of reference, we should offer one observation: just because you are experiencing ill health does not mean that the Medical Leave is necessarily the best option. In fact, the great majority of students who take time off for reasons that are somehow medical in nature take a Dean’s Leave (with or without conditions), not a Medical Leave. Students who have questions about whether they might prefer a Medical Leave (or whether it should be classified as a Dean’s Leave) should meet with their Deans.
College Leave: The procedures by which students go on College Leave are described in the Academic Regulations section in the Haverford Academic Catalog—please refer to the Catalog for more information about College Leave.
Dean’s Leave with conditions: This is considered a voluntary leave, and the distinction between it and the generic Dean’s Leave is simply that you will have to demonstrate, in certain ways specified by your dean, that you are ready to return to the College. Your Dean will decide whether you have met those conditions satisfactorily and are ready to resume their studies. Otherwise, all the conditions and assumptions that pertain to a generic Dean’s Leave that are articulated above apply.