Elon University provides a range of support services to support students facing personal and family hardships within the context of the campus community. On occasion, students may experience unexpected personal or family difficulties that require them to step away from their courses. In such circumstances, students may request a voluntary leave of absence. For a full description of the leave of absence policy and procedures, please visit the academic catalog.


What is a Leave of Absence for Hardship Reasons:

A Leave of Absence (LOA) for hardship reasons allows a student to withdraw from all of their current courses (or defer enrollment for an upcoming semester) while remaining affiliated as a student at Elon.  A hardship is defined generally as a documented family health emergency, death in the family, military service, or financial hardship.

While away, students approved for an LOA remain eligible to register for future classes, maintain their ability to register for housing, and maintain their online access to important Elon services such as email and OnTrack.  An LOA is different from a Medical Leave of Absence where a student is seeking leave for medical reasons.  An LOA is different from a course withdrawal where a student is withdrawing from an individual course prior to the academic deadline.

Students who are granted a leave of absence from the university prior to the published date for withdrawing from courses with a “W” will receive grades of “W”. If a leave of absence is requested past this date in the term, faculty members will be requested to report the student progress in class at the time of the request by indicating a “W” or “F” grade. That designation will be entered as the grade on the official transcript (i.e. students who are failing a class at the time of the request will receive an “F” on their transcript).


Considerations Prior to Requesting a Leave of Absence:

Students considering a Leave of Absence for Hardship reasons should weigh a number of factors when deciding whether an LOA is appropriate for their specific situation.  The following is a short list of considerations to be weighed:

  • Financial Aid:  Students are typically expected to complete a certain percent of the classes they attempt in order to maintain their financial aid status. Students should consult with Financial Aid to determine the likely impact of an LOA on their ability to remain eligible for aid.
  • Academic Progress:  Students may delay their academic plans by taking an LOA, thus extending the time to graduation.  While away, students in good standing may be able to transfer credits earned from home institutions.  Students should consult with their academic advisor or the Academic Advising Center to complete a graduation plan or learn more about transfer of credits.
  • Enrollment in a Subsequent Term: In most circumstances, a student requesting a leave of absence near the end of a term will not be eligible to return for the term that immediately follows.   As a result, students requesting leave near the end of a Fall or Spring term should expect to remain on leave at least until the following semester (e.g. If a student takes leave at the end of Fall, she would remain on leave during Winter and the earliest she could return would be Spring).  Students requesting leave during Winter term should expect to remain on leave during Spring term and will be eligible to return for Summer I.
  • On-Campus Housing: Students on a leave of absence are not eligible to remain in campus housing, including University apartments and University leased housing. Students must complete the Residence Life check-out process before a leave of absence will be processed.  Students are not guaranteed that the same spot will be available for them when they return from leave.
  • Study Abroad and Study USA: Students enrolled in a Study Abroad or Study USA program must be enrolled full-time (12 credits) at Elon for the semester which precedes the off-campus term (e.g. students studying away in Spring or Winter Term must have completed 12 credits in the Fall semester).  Students accepted into a study away program should consult with the Global Education Center regarding financial repercussions and options for deferral or cancellation.  
  • Fraternity and Sorority Recruitment: Students must have achieved a minimum GPA and credit requirement (12 credits) prior to participating in fraternity and sorority recruitment.  Students considering an LOA (particularly first-year students) should be aware that an LOA will likely delay their ability to participate.  Student may consult with Student Involvement staff to learn about options for participating in future recruitment programs.

How to Request a Leave of Absence:

Application Deadline:  Requests for leave of absence for hardship reasons, including all supporting documentation, must be received five days before the final course date of the term in which the leave is requested (i.e. 5 days before the last day of class).

Documentation: A student requesting an LOA MUST attach or provide documentation.  No request will be considered until the necessary documentation is provided.  Students are encouraged to attach documentation as part of their online application (see below) but may submit this separately in unique situations.

  • For situations involving a family illness or medical emergency, the student must submit supporting documentation that includes the family member name/relationship and student name (this may be a letter from a doctor, hospice facility, etc.). This must be on letterhead, prescription pad, or other official documentation.
  • For situations related to a death in the family, the student must provide a link to or copy of the obituary including the student name/relationship, or appropriate alternate documentation.
  • For other types of personal/family hardship, please consult with staff in the Office of the Dean of Students to determine if the situation meets grounds for a leave of absence and to discuss appropriate supporting documentation.

Online Application: Students can apply online using the link below.  As part of their application, students are asked to provide context for their request.  Students are strongly encouraged to factor in the above considerations prior to submitting a leave request:


What Happens Next:

Once submitted, the student will receive an automated confirmation email and the application will be forwarded to the Office of the Dean of Students.

The Office of the Dean of Students will review the application and documentation to determine if it meets grounds for the requested leave of absence.  Staff will contact the student if additional documentation or information is needed.

If approved, staff will notify the student of approval and any required action and documentation necessary for return.  The Office of the Dean of Students will then notify the Registrar.  The Registrar will process the request and determine the effective date for refund purposes.  The Office of the Registrar will then send official notice of leave to campus departments (this may take 2-3 business days).

If not approved, staff in the Office of the Dean of Students will notify the student of the reason for denial. There is no appeal process for denied requests.


Returning from a Leave of Absence:

Students returning from a Leave of Absence must follow the procedures outlined on the Returning from Leave of Absence website.


Common Questions:

Can I retake the classes I received Ws in because of the LOA?  In most cases, a student may repeat classes attempted during a semester where a leave of absence is taken.  For details related to repeat classes, see the Academic Advising website.

Will I get a refund?  Students may be eligible for a refund depending on the timing of their request and approval.  Students may contact the Bursar’s Office for specific refund related questions.