The following is quoted from the Stanford University Registrar’s Office website (8/21/2017):
A leave of absence is required by students who wish to withdraw from the current quarter, or who do not wish to attend a future quarter (*Excluding summer as the starting term). For students with multiple degree programs or majors, leaves of absence are only granted for all programs and majors. Leaves will not be granted for more than one year at a time. A leave of absence from your program may not exceed a cumulative total of two years. See the Stanford Bulletin for additional information.
Students planning a leave of absence should download and fill in the Leave of Absence Form (pdf).
Students should review all possible ramifications of taking a leave of absence. Students are encouraged to check with all other appropriate University offices (e.g., Housing Assignments, Financial Aid, Student Financial Services, Bechtel International Center, Vaden Health Center) to determine how taking a leave of absence impacts their status with these offices. Students on leave of absence are not registered and, therefore, do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. They cannot fulfill any official department or University requirements during the leave period.
Graduate students are subject to special registration requirements; see the “Leave of Absence” section of the Stanford Bulletin.
Before a given quarter
The deadline to submit a Leave of Absence for a full refund is the Preliminary Study List deadline. To ensure a full refund, submit a fully completed and properly endorsed leave of absence by the Preliminary Study List deadline.
During a given quarter
The deadline to submit a Leave of Absence for a partial refund is the Term Withdrawal deadline. Graduate students must submit a leave of absence form to the Student Services Center. All courses for that term are dropped if the last day of attendance is prior to the Final Study List deadline. Axess does not allow students to drop all courses themselves. Submitting a Leave of Absence form after the Final Study List deadline results in ‘W’ notations on the transcript for all registered courses.
After the term withdrawal refund deadline (60% of the quarter), a leave of absence is granted only for approved health or emergency reasons with supporting documentation.
Leaves of Absence Before the First Day of Classes
Students who take a leave from the University voluntarily on or before the first day of classes will receive a full tuition refund. Such students are not included in University records as registered for the term.
Leave of Absence After the First Day of Classes
An active student in good standing who voluntarily takes a leave from the University after the first day of instruction, but before the term withdrawal deadline, receives a pro rata refund. There is no refund after the Term Withdrawal deadline. Courses in which the student was enrolled after the Final Study List deadline appear on the student’s record and show the grade of ‘W’ (withdrew).
Student Status While on Leave
Students on an approved leave of absence retain their admitted student status; however, they are not registered and therefore do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. Students on leave may complete course work for which an ‘Incomplete’ grade was reported in a prior term and are expected to comply with the one-year maximum time limit for resolving incompletes.
Degree programs and candidacy must be valid in the term of reenrollment. Leaves do not delay candidacy or master's program expiration dates. Failure to return as scheduled or to secure an extension of a prior leave will result in cancelation of registration privileges and a substantial reinstatement fee. Official department or University requirements (e.g., qualification examinations) cannot be fulfilled during the leave period.
Submitting the Leave of Absence Form
Students are required to sign the leave of absence request. Graduate students require a signature from one of their major department chair, director of graduate studies, or school dean. International students (F-1 & J-1 visa holders) need to obtain a signature from a Bechtel International Center adviser.
Nonimmigrant students and their dependents must maintain an appropriate visa status at all times. An absence from the U.S. of 5 or more months will result in termination of F-1 or J-1 status. If a student remains outside the U.S. for 5 or more months, a new I-20 or DS-2019 is necessary for re-entry. For further information contact the I-Center.
Submission of Form
Graduate students submit the form to the Student Services Center.
Students should notify the Financial Aid Office of their intent to leave the University if they are receiving any type of aid, particularly to protect eligibility for certain programs and funds such as Cal Grants while on leave. A portion of any refund is returned to the sources of aid. Students should clear all outstanding bills with the Student Services Center before returning to campus. Graduate students may apply for loans four weeks before the first day of classes in the quarter in which they plan to return. See the Financial Aid website for detailed application requirements.
Students must notify all lenders of their intent to leave the University and request exit information before leaving campus (Stafford and private loans through the Financial Aid Office; Perkins and Institutional loans through Student Financial Services). Students are cautioned to consider carefully the effect of leaves on their loan status; lenders may count the leave period as part of the total grace period. Stanford will provide enrollment status to the National Student Loan Clearing House. Students who receive loan disbursements directly may be required to repay portions of their loans.
University housing is generally not available to students on leave. Students with questions about room-and-board refunds should contact the Stanford Housing Assignment Services or the central office of the University Dining Services (for board refunds). Students with medical disabilities that require University medical services and students approved for the Childbirth Accommodation may petition to remain in campus housing for one term while on leave. Approval requires good academic standing, department recommendation, and no outstanding financial obligations to the University. Address questions to Housing Assignment Services.
Contact Vaden Health Center at 650-723-2135, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, for information regarding Cardinal Care coverage and/or Dependent Plan Insurance during a student leave of absence. Additional information can be found on the Vaden website at https://vaden.stanford.edu/insurance/cardinal-care/enrollment
Contact the Privileges Division, Green Library, to determine whether you may retain access and/or borrowing privileges while you are on leave.
Graduate Student Procedures
1. Obtain the Leave of Absence Form (pdf).
2. Discuss plans and obtain signature from major department chair, Director of Graduate Studies, or school dean.
3. International students must discuss plans and obtain a signature from the Bechtel International Center.
4. Submit completed and signed Leave of Absence form to the Student Services Center, Tresidder Memorial Union, 2nd Floor, Fax: (650) 721-1585, http://helpsu.stanford.edu/?pcat=ssc
Graduate students may not take a leave of absence during their first quarter of enrollment.
Extending a Leave or Returning from a Leave at a Different Time
A Leave of Absence form must be completed (with the extension portion of the form filled out) by a student who wishes to extend an initial leave of absence.
For graduate students, an Application for Reinstatement in Graduate Study (pdf) must be submitted by a student who did not submit a Leave of Absence form and was discontinued for no enrollment. Both an application fee and reinstatement fee apply.