Preparing to Return From a Health Leave of Absence


Students walking up Libe Slope beside Uris Library

“I re-entered Cornell with an enriched perspective on my life and had the best semester that I had in college. Taking a leave may seem like it was wasting your time, but it is likely to be buying you time in the future, free of the problem you worked through on leave.”

When you are ready to return from an HLOA, you will need to complete a series of administrative processes. Each step is outlined below. 

The process

Step 1: Request to Return

To initiate your return from HLOA, complete this brief request to return form.

Step 2: Document of Fitness to Return

Submit documentation indicating your fitness to resume your education at Cornell, which should include one or more of the following:

The Health Leaves Coordinator may request additional information or documentation to establish your fitness to return to your studies at Cornell. Please be aware that academic faculty and staff members should not request health information or records directly from you.

Step 3: Academic Advising and Approval

Once your documentation of fitness to return has been reviewed and approved, the appropriate academic advising unit will be notified that you have completed the health clearance component of the return process. You will engage in academic planning and complete any college/school/campus- based rejoin requirements. The Health Leaves Coordinator will be informed when you have academic approval to return.

Step 4: Health Success Plan

The Health Leaves Coordinator will meet with you to discuss a holistic plan for maintaining your health and wellbeing when you return to Cornell. The Health Leaves Coordinator will also help you identify Cornell resources that can support you.

Timelines for Return

Requests to return from a health leave of absence will be accepted on a rolling basis to offer flexibility and accommodate each student’s individual health situation and academic program. The following recommended deadlines are provided to inform decision making and allow adequate time for processing, academic planning, and consulting with college and university offices. Requests to return that are submitted later than the recommended deadlines may be postponed until a later semester. Please contact the Health Leaves Coordinator ( if you have questions about the timeline.

Recommended deadline to participate in pre-enrollment and apply for campus housing Semester of Return Submit documentation of fitness to return by
  Fall March 1
Spring October 1
Summer April 1
Latest recommended deadline Semester of Return Submit documentation of fitness to return by
  Fall  July 15
Spring December 1
Summer May 1

Other arrangements

Access & Accommodations

Consider registering with Student Disability Services (SDS) before you return to campus. Because you took a leave of absence to address a disability or a physical or mental health condition, you may be eligible for and benefit from ongoing support and accommodations.

Disability Services works in partnership with Cornell faculty, staff, and students to ensure that all aspects of student life are accessible, equitable, and inclusive of individuals with disabilities. SDS supports undergraduate, graduate, and professional students on the Ithaca, Cornell Tech, and Weill Cornell Medical campuses, as well as Executive MBA programs. SDS works with students on an individual basis to determine reasonable accommodations that facilitate access to learning, living, and other experiences. Depending on the nature of the condition, accommodations may be temporary, intermittent, or ongoing. Accommodations cannot be offered retroactively, so it is advantageous to register with SDS and make arrangements before the semester begins.


Bursar account

In order to be a registered student at Cornell University, you will need to settle all financial accounts, including charges for the current semester’s tuition, activity fee, housing, dining, and CornellCard, as well as prior semester charges. See the University Registration page for information about additional university requirements, such as New York State and university health requirements, and information about “no holds.” Please note that enrollment in classes does not constitute or imply university registration.

Check your Cornell email regularly for notification that a bill has been posted to CashNet. You will be billed through CashNet and you can check CashNet for outstanding balances.

Contact the Office of the Bursar if you have questions about charges or payments.

Financial Aid

Provided that you have submitted all of the necessary financial aid application materials and documentation, you can ask the Office of Financial Aid for an estimated aid package. They will not prepare your actual financial aid package until your college or school has processed your return from leave.



On the Ithaca campus, housing for returning students is not guaranteed and is prioritized by classification (first-year students have priority, then sophomores, juniors, and seniors), application date, and availability. Students may apply for housing on a rolling basis. Once your college has processed your return from leave and activated you for the semester, you may be eligible to receive a housing assignment. See Cornell Housing for application information and deadlines.

For students who plan to live off campus in Ithaca, the Off-campus Living Office (, 541 Willard Straight Hall, (607) 255-2310) provides information and services to help you make an informed housing decision.

If you are a Cornell Tech student, contact Cornell Tech Housing at  


Special arrangements for international students

If you are an international student, please contact International Services in the Office of Global Learning regarding your student visa status.


Preparing yourself for a successful return

“What was hard about returning was adapting to being in the Cornell environment and finding balance. It was hard to find the right balance of self-care and work. I had to constantly remind myself that if I tried to do everything, I would probably end up crashing. It took a while for me to stop feeling guilty for taking the time I needed for myself to stay healthy both physically and emotionally, especially during my first weeks back at Cornell.”

It takes preparation, organization, and honesty to stay on course once you return to campus. Here are some questions to consider and potentially discuss with care providers, family members, and college advisors as you plan and make arrangements for your return to Cornell:



  • What do you consider to be your greatest academic strengths? 
  • What classes play to your strengths?
  • What is a manageable number of credits to take as you readjust to life at Cornell?
  • What combination of classes will allow for balance in terms of the skills and amount of time required for each class?
  • What questions do you have for your college advising office or faculty advisor?


Health & well-being


  • What will you need to do in order to maintain your health and well-being? (i.e., nutrition, exercise, sleep, meditation, socializing, other)
  • How (and when) will you build in time for activities that support your well-being?
  • What are the warning signs of a deterioration in your health and well-being?




  • What housing situation will be the most beneficial for your first semester after a leave? (Consider the following: On- or-off campus; alone or with roommates; distance from campus; access to grocery stores and transportation.)
  • Have you updated your local address and emergency contact information in Student Center?


Resources on campus


  • What concerns do you have about returning from a health leave? What help do you need to address those concerns?
  • What campus resources will you access to support your return and what type of support do you need (e.g., Cornell Health, Student Disability Services, college advising office, Cornell Minds Matter)?
  • What is the most helpful way for college staff to reach out to you if there are concerns about your well-being (e.g., email, phone, text, other)?


Social Connections


  • What communities do you want to engage with?
  • What interests do you want to pursue when you return to Cornell (e.g., student organizations, religious groups, resource centers, service or research opportunities)? 
  • Do you want to reconnect with old friends or create a new network?
  • Are you planning to attend the orientation for students returning from leave of absence? 
  • Are you planning to participate in the weekly return from leave group meetings?
  • What personal resources can you rely on for support once you return to campus? (i.e., family, physician or therapist, friends, other)