Taking a Health Leave of Absence

girl sitting on bench

"I had mental health concerns long before coming to Cornell. But the stress of being in college put me in situations which finally forced me to get help. Having the opportunity to take a break and go into treatment was invaluable.”

The process

Once you have determined that you would like to request a Health Leave of Absence, please follow the steps listed below. The Health Leaves Coordinator (healthleaves@cornell.edu) is available to answer your questions and help you with the process.

STEP 1: Consultation

It is important that you have information about the process and implications of taking a Health Leave of Absence before you submit a formal request. If you don't know where to start or whom to contact, please email or make an appointment with the Health Leaves Coordinator at healthleaves@cornell.edu, who will work with you to facilitate consultations between you, your health care provider, Student Disability Services, and your college/school before granting a Health Leave of Absence. Depending on your situation, you may wish to consult with one or more of the following:

  • Health Leaves Coordinator
  • Student Disability Services counselor
  • Health care provider
  • College student services/advising office
  • For Graduate Students: 
    • Graduate School assistant dean of student life
    • Director of Graduate Studies
    • Graduate Field Assistant
    • Cornell Tech Wellness & Support Office

Your college/school may place academic conditions on your return based on curriculum sequencing, time to degree requirements, or academic actions that will be determined and communicated to you by the end of the term. Your college/school or University reserves the right to change a voluntary leave to a required leave or withdrawal if an academic or disciplinary review determines it appropriate.  

To facilitate the consultation process, you can ask your counselor or medical provider to complete the "Reason for Health Leave of Absence" section of the Health Leave of Absence Documentation Form (pdf). Cornell Tech students can work with Cornell Tech Health & Wellness to obtain a list of local providers. 

STEP 2: Form 

After consulting with the Health Leaves Coordinator and determining that a Health Leave of Absence is the right course of action for you, submit the Health Leave of Absence Request Form or consult with Student Disability Services.

STEP 3: Letter

The Health Leaves Coordinator will provide your college/school with an official letter of notification that includes the conditions for your return within two business days of notifying you that the health leave has been granted.

Undergraduate and professional school students: the letter granting a Health Leave of Absence will be sent to the appropriate student services/advising office. For Cornell Tech undergraduate students, the letter will be sent to the Cornell Tech Student Services Office. Professional school students on the Cornell Tech campus are advised to contact the Cornell Tech Wellness & Support Office.

Graduate students:

  • The letter granting a Health Leave of Absence will be sent to the Graduate School.

Step 4: Registrar

Your college/school will inform the Office of the University Registrar of your request to take a Health Leave of Absence and ensure that all necessary and appropriate supporting documentation is provided.

Step 5: Status Change

The Office of the University Registrar will review and approve dates pertaining to student leaves of absence, process the leave of absence, and report your change of enrollment status. A notation on your transcript will also indicate “Leave of Absence” for each semester that you are on HLOA.

Step 6: Notifications

Automated notifications will alert the offices and individuals listed below that your enrollment status has changed. Please note that the change of enrollment status may have implications for financial aid, billing, student health benefits, and international student visa status.

  • Financial Aid and Student Employment
  • Housing and Dining Contracts
  • Residential Life
  • Student Health Benefits 
  • Office of Global Learning International Services (for international students only)
  • Athletics (for NCAA athletes only)
  • Your current instructors 

Deadline to request a Health Leave of Absence

You may request a Health Leave of Absence at any time after you have commenced attendance at the university as part of a Cornell degree program. If the leave is for the current term, the last day of the term is the deadline. Cornell Policy 7.1.

Duration of Health Leave of Absence

  • You may not return from a leave within the semester that the leave was taken. 

  • The duration of the leave will depend upon the time you need for treatment and/or recovery and the resolution of academic conditions determined by your college/school. 

  • Each college may set a maximum duration for a Health Leave of Absence.

Other considerations

Student status

While you are on a leave of absence, you will not be registered with the University. Therefore, you will not be eligible for the privileges afforded to registered students, such as residing in University housing, accessing University resources, and receiving direct supervision by faculty members.

  • Submission of a leave of absence request after the published deadline to drop classes will result in the “course withdrawal” notation (W) for classes that have not been completed. You will not be eligible to take an incomplete or receive a grade for a course when the effective date of your leave of absence precedes the class end date.
  • You will receive a grade for any course that was completed prior to the leave of absence request date.
  • A leave of absence request does not terminate in-progress academic integrity or other student conduct actions. All academic integrity and other student conduct infractions and actions remain part of the student’s academic record.

Financial matters

When you take a leave of absence, tuition charges may be reduced on a prorated schedule. The effective date of the leave of absence will determine your tuition liability for the semester. 

  • The Office of the Bursar can also provide information about obtaining a refund if you purchased tuition insurance, including the A.W.G. Dewar, Inc. claim forms.
  • Funded graduate students returning from an approved Health Leave of Absence within the four-year window retain any financial support remaining from their original offer of admission, as outlined in the Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty.
  • If you receive financial aid, it is important that you consult with a financial aid representative prior to submitting your HLOA request. The Office of Financial Aid website provides general information about Leaves of Absence and Withdrawal, but you will need to understand the impact of taking an HLOA on your individual financial aid package. 
  • If you receive loans to finance your education, be sure to ask a financial aid representative about the grace period before repayment of loans is required. Additional information is available on the Office of Financial Aid website.

Health insurance

Review your health insurance coverage to find out how it might be impacted by an HLOA.

  • Students who take HLOA mid-plan year may retain their Student Health Plan (SHP) coverage through the end of the plan year (through July 31). Visit the Student Health Benefits website or contact the Office of Student Health Benefits at studentbenefits@cornell.edu for detailed guidance about options for extending coverage.
  • If you have another health insurance plan, contact the plan provider to clarify coverage using the phone number on your insurance card. In some cases, you may need to apply for continuation of coverage.


If you live on campus in Ithaca, contact the Housing and Dining Contracts Office for information about prorated refunds and moving out of your on-campus accommodations. If you are a Cornell Tech student and live on campus, contact Cornell Tech Housing.

International students

Taking a leave of absence may have implications for an international student’s visa status. If you are on an F-1 or J-1 student visa, you will need written documentation from a health care provider recommending a leave of absence or reduced course load for medical or mental health reasons. Immigration rules for a health leave of absence or reduced course load may not coincide with Cornell’s health leave requirements and limitations. Please contact the Office of Global Learning to discuss the impact of an HLOA on your visa status.

Meal plans

If you are an Ithaca student who is on a meal plan, contact the Housing and Dining Contracts Office to cancel your meal plan and arrange a prorated refund.

Career Services

Generally speaking, you should have access to Handshake or other school-based recruiting systems, job postings (without campus interviews), and the Career Fair, but you will not be eligible to participate in campus recruiting (virtual or in-person). Individual appointments and attendance at some programs (even virtual ones) may be limited, depending on capacity in your college career office. The services of the Health Careers Evaluation Committee program are available, provided you meet the requirements of the program.