In rare situations, a student’s medical needs and other factors may have prevented them from being able to complete a Medical Leave of Absence in a timely manner.  In these situations, a student may apply for a Retroactive Medical Withdrawal for a recent term.

What is a Retroactive Medical Withdrawal?

A Retroactive Medical Withdrawal allows a student to be withdrawn for health reasons for a prior term that the student recently completed.  Retroactive Medical Withdrawals may be considered when there are documented medical/mental health circumstances which may have substantially impacted a student’s ability to successfully meet their academic requirements and receive credit for the term.   A Retroactive Medical Withdrawal is different from a Medical Leave of Absence where the student is seeking to withdrawal from courses while still enrolled in those courses.

If approved, the student will be withdrawn from all courses for the term and a grade of “WD” entered for all courses.  There are no partial retroactive withdrawals; a student approved for for a retroactive withdrawal will lose credit in all courses for the relevant term.

Considerations Prior to Requesting a Retroactive Medical Withdrawal:

  • 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 MLOA on their ability to remain eligible for aid.
  • Academic Progress:  Students may delay their academic plans by taking an MLOA, 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.
  • Academic Standing: All academic standing status decisions will remain in effect pending the outcome of a final decision. Students who are on probation or who may have been suspended will remain on suspension pending the outcome of the request for withdrawal.
  • Study Abroad: 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 on options for delaying or canceling their study away term.
  • 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 MLOA (particularly first-year students) should be aware that an MLOA 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 Retroactive Medical Withdrawal:

Deadline:  Requests for retroactive medical withdrawal must be made within 30 calendar days following the last day of class for the term in which the student is requesting the Retroactive Medical Withdrawal.  Below are example deadlines based on upcoming semesters:

  • Spring 2022: June 10, 2022 at  5:00pm
  • Summer I 2022: July 25, 2022 at 5:00 pm
  • Summer II 2022: August 25, 2022 at 5:00 pm
  • Fall 2022: January 2, 2023 at 5:00 pm
  • Winter 2022: February 22, 203 at 5:00 pm
  • Spring 2023: June 8, 2023 at 5:00 pm

Online Submission: Requests for a Retroactive Medical Withdrawal must include all of the information outlined below and must be submitted by 5:00 pm on the due date at the following link:

Required Information: Requests for retroactive medical withdrawal MUST include the following:

  1. A detailed written statement and request by the student that includes:
    1. Information about how the student’s condition substantially impacted their ability to complete their academic requirements in the term.
    2. An explanation of why the student was not able to request a Medical Leave of Absence in a timely manner during the term.
    3. Steps they are taking to mitigate the situation
  2. Detailed documentation by a medical/mental health provider licensed in their state of practice to provide medical care or clinical mental health-related services. Documentation from a family member will not be accepted unless that person is licensed by their state to provide such care to family members. The provider must speak directly to the student’s condition during the term in which the student is requesting the withdrawal.  As a result, the student must have been under the provider’s direct care during the term for which the request is made.  Among other aspects, the documentation must include:
    1. A list of dates during the relevant term when the provider provided assessment or treatment services including diagnoses and treatment notes;
    2. A summary statement about why the condition prevented the student from being able to successfully meet academic obligations (NOTE: While referencing a pre-existing condition may be helpful in context of the student’s performance in the term, having verification of a pre-existing medical condition does not in itself meet the standards for granting a retroactive medical withdrawal);
    3. Verification of any additional treatment interventions since the relevant term that are designed to mitigate the situation;
    4. Verification of the student’s compliance with those recommendations.

If the documentation required is not provided by the due date, the request cannot move forward and this may cause additional delays in considering the request. Please allow 90 days for a decision to be rendered.

Contact Information: Supporting documentation may be faxed or e- mailed to:

Dr. Jana Lynn Patterson, Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students
Fax: (336) 278-2875


What Happens Next:

If submitted completely and in a timely basis, the request will be forwarded to the Retroactive Withdrawal Committee.  This committee will consider the request in the context of other relevant information.  As part of it’s review process, the committee may gather and consider other student educational or service record information that may be helpful in the decision making process.  If the committee decides to move the request forward for consideration, the student’s faculty members for the relevant term will be consulted before a final decision will be rendered.  The committee will then render a final decision regarding the request. As part of it’s final decision, the committee will decide when the student may reapply for admission or continue in classes and may indicate stipulations that the student participate in further assessment and recommended treatment prior to return. 

Please allow a minimum of 60 days from the receipt of all materials for committee’s final decision to be rendered. If additional materials are needed for consideration, the time line may be extended. The student will be notified of the final decision by e-mail within five business days of a final decision being rendered. The decision of the committee is final; no further appeal is provided.

Common Questions:

  • Will I get a refund for the semester that was withdrawn?  There is no financial refund for Retroactive Medical Withdrawals.
  • I was suspended following the term I am requesting a withdrawal from.  What happens while I wait for the committee’s decision?  All academic standing status decisions will remain in effect pending the outcome of a final decision. Students who are on probation or who may have been suspended will remain on suspension pending the outcome of the request for withdrawal.
  • Can I request a partial Retroactive Medical Withdrawal for some of the classes in the term ? If approved, Retroactive Medical Withdrawals are granted for all courses for which the student was enrolled for the specified term. There are no partial withdrawals so the student will not receive any academic credit for the term in which the retroactive medical withdrawal was granted. If the retroactive medical withdrawal is granted, the student’s grades for the term will be changed to a “WD” indicating a medical withdrawal.
  • Can I retake the classes I received WDs in because of the Retroactive Medical Withdrawal?  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.