Contemplating a Leave of Absence?
- Financial Aid: If you receive financial aid, then you should consult with the Financial Aid Office staff before making any "leave" decisions so that you understand the aid implications of taking time away.
- Financial Withdrawal Poliy: Review the Financial Withdrawal Policy in the College Catalog, Section 4.3.
I-20, DACA, or Undocumented students
International, DACA or Undocumented students should be sure to consult with Jennifer Marks-Gold (Assistant Dean and Director of the International Student Center) before making any "leave" decisions.
- Impact of Taking a Leave of Absence on F-1 Practical Training Eligibility: International students returning from a Leave of Absence enter the U.S. on a new, initial I-20. For this reason, they must complete another full academic year in F-1 status before they are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). If you plan to apply for OPT, you must be enrolled as a full-time student for at least 2 semesters prior to your anticipated OPT start date.
You should consult with your health insurance provider(s) to understand any leave implications for your health insurance coverage. Be sure to read the info on Services and Activities Available to Students on a Voluntary Leave (see below section on this webpage). If you take a leave of absence in a Fall semester, you are not eligible to enroll in the college's Student Health Insurance Plan for that Fall semester - as only currently enrolled students are eligible to enroll in the plan.
- Dean: If possible, you should talk with your assigned dean and/or Associate Dean of Academic Success Liz Derickson about your interest in taking a leave of absence.
- Academic Advisor: If possible, you should also consult with your academic advisors about a potential leave of absence. This is especially important for juniors and seniors.
- Returning process: Be sure to review the Returning website info, so that you understand the process of seeking return after a leave of absence.
Decided to take a leave of absence?
Leaving for the upcoming semester
You must complete the required Leave/Return e-form, available in the student e-forms section of mySwarthmore.
- Timeline: please complete by November 15 for a Spring semester leave, if possible
- Timeline: please complete by April 15 for a Fall semester leave, if possible
- Leave decisions are possible after the above dates. Use the required leave/return e-form in mySwarthmore to request a leave, once you are sure that you aim to go on leave.
Dean Derickson will review your leave request, and will notify the relevant offices (Registrar, Student Accounts, etc) if your request is approved. You will receive a copy of any leave approval emails. That notification email does not include the reason for your leave; it just states that you will take a leave. That notification prompts your withdrawal from course enrollment and the cancellation of your housing assignment, if any.
Leaving during A semester that is underway
Once you have made a decision to voluntarily withdraw from a current semester for the duration of the semester, you must complete the leave/request e-form in mySwarthmore.
Or, if you prefer to complete a paper form instead of submitting an e-form request, you can complete the Leave of Absence form [PDF] in lieu the e-form. Then, provide the paper or PDF form to Dean Derickson or the dean with whom you have been working.
Dean Derickson will review your leave request, notify the relevant offices (Registrar, Student Accounts, etc) if your request is approved, and advise you on other necessary steps. You will receive a copy of any leave request approval emails. That notification email does not include the reason for your leave; it just states that you will take a leave. That notification prompts your withdrawal from courses and the cancellation of your housing assignment, if any. Typically, students who withdraw during the semester are expected to move out of college housing by the end of the weekend following their leave decision.
If you do not receive a reply to your leave/return e-form within 5 business days, then please contact Dean Derickson via email. If you do not have email access, then you should call Dean Derickson at 610-328-8475 and leave a message.
Access to College Services & Activities
Students who take a voluntary leave of absence from the College may seek remote assistance with academic or career planning and will maintain access to their Swarthmore email account. They will also remain eligible to use the mental health support services offered by Talkspace and CAPS On-Call. If a student misuses any College services, then the student may lose access to all services or privileges.
Students on a leave of absence do not retain library borrowing privileges, are not eligible to be on student payroll, are not eligible to register for or audit courses, and are not eligible to vote in student government elections or referenda. Students who are on leave do not have access to campus facilities and services, are not eligible to serve in leadership roles in student organizations and student government and are not eligible to use student organization funds. This is a general description and students should consult with the relevant offices for more detail as-needed.
If you will complete your degree requirements in a Fall semester and graduate the following May or June, please consult with the Registrar, read the Registrar's info on December Finisher and Degree Requirements (including the related links on Graduation Policies and Commencement), and complete the required December Finisher PDF form. Students who are December Finishers go on a leave of absence for the Spring semester preceding their graduation. You just need to complete the December Finisher form and you do not need to complete the Leave/Return e-form.
If you are studying abroad through the Swarthmore Off-Campus Study Office, that is not considered a "leave of absence." If you are studying abroad through the Swarthmore Off-Campus Study Office and are considering withdrawing from your study abroad program, be sure to consult with the Off-Campus Study Office staff.
Normally, students who are returning from leave must be successfully re-admitted to the college and then complete at least one semester at the college before being approved for a subsequent semester abroad. However, the expectation of completing at least one semester at the college following readmission before a semester of study abroad is being waived in 2021-22 due to the global pandemic.
If you are exploring transferring to another school, please see the Registrar's Office website for helpful advice on transferring.
If you have arrived at a final decision that you will transfer to another school, then complete the Leave/Return Form in mySwarthmore (see details above). On the Leave/Return e-form, indicate the latest possible semester in the "Planned Semester of Return" box and select "Transferring out" as the reason for your departure. Your student status will then be updated to Withdrawn Not Returning (instead of Leave of Absence). Withdrawing permanently from the college results in your Swarthmore email account being terminated in 4 business days. In advance of completing the e-form, be sure to save any info that you need from your Swarthmore email account.