Health Leaves of Absence (HLOA)

A student is greeted by the director of SDS

"SDS has always been there for me when I need accommodations or proof/documentation of my disability. I've found my meetings with SDS to be very helpful in terms of planning ahead for potential roadblocks, and brainstorming solutions/ways around them.”

HLOA forms

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 ( 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. 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.
  • Personal Leave of Absence: A student may opt to take a leave of absence for personal reasons that are not health related.

Read this Summary of Volunteer Leave Types (pdf).