Cornell recognizes that medical and mental health conditions can interfere with a student’s academic success and personal safety. Taking a Health Leave of Absence (HLOA) provides students with a break from their studies to attend to treatment or management of a health condition. Any Cornell student can request to take an HLOA. The University’s goal is to enable students to address their health needs and return to complete their academic program.
In some cases, reasonable accommodations may enable a student to complete academic coursework and remain on campus rather than taking an HLOA. A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities is considered a disability and may warrant accommodations. A person who has a history of such an impairment or who is perceived by others as having such an impairment may also be eligible for accommodations (ADA). All students who are considering an HLOA are encouraged to consult with Student Disability Services to discuss eligibility for accommodations before requesting an HLOA.
If you are considering an HLOA, please review the information on this site.The Health Leaves Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) is also available to answer your questions.
Types of Voluntary Leave of Absence for Students
A voluntary leave of absence is a temporary separation of a student from the university, which is requested by a student who intends to return to academic pursuits in a future term. There are two different types of voluntary leave of absence:
- Health Leave of Absence (HLOA): A student may request a health leave of absence as an accommodation for a disability and/or for the purpose of treatment, recovery, and management of a health condition. Most tuition insurance policies will only provide reimbursement if a student needs to take a leave of absence for health reasons. International students who take a health leave of absence may be able to remain in the US to seek treatment and maintain their student visa status.
- The Health Leaves Coordinator provides case management support and serves as a point of contact throughout the leave and return processes.
- There is no minimum duration for health leaves. The duration of the HLOA will depend upon the time the student needs for treatment and/or recovery and the resolution of academic conditions determined by the student’s college.
- Most tuition insurance policies will only provide reimbursement if a student needs to take a Health Leave of Absence for health reasons.
- International students who take a Health Leave of Absence may be able to remain in the US to seek treatment and maintain their student visa status.
- Varsity Student-Athletes who need to take a Health Leave of Absence and miss a season of competition may qualify for a 5th year eligibility waiver. (Students should contact the athletics compliance office regarding their individual circumstances.)
- Personal Leave of Absence: A student may opt to take a leave of absence for personal reasons that are not health related. Personal leaves are managed by the student's college/school/campus, which may set parameters for the duration of the leave as well as conditions that must be met in order to return.
Read this Summary of Voluntary Leave Types (pdf).