Leave of Absence/Withdrawal Policy
UTHSC recognizes that absences may be necessary during a portion of an academic program and strives to accommodate such absences to enable students to continue in, and complete their academic programs. Students should be aware, however, that it may be difficult for colleges to provide suitable options for makeup of missed assignments/activities even with short term absences, given the intensity, complexity and fast pace of UTHSC programs.
Students are advised to review the attendance policies of their colleges/programs carefully when an absence is necessary and consult with college officials when an absence will be prolonged. College processes for approval of leaves differ depending on the duration, timing and reason for the proposed absence. Prolonged absences may result in a requirement to repeat a significant portion of the program and/or to petition for readmission. Prolonged absences also affect eligibility for loan deferment and may require  that students be listed as withdrawn.  If students are unable to complete a term for which aid has been received, he/she may also be required to repay some or all of the aid received for that term. Students are advised to consult with the Office of Financial Aid regarding financial obligations related to prolonged absences.
POLICY RATIONALE AND EXPLANATION
Colleges have absence policies and procedures describing actions that must be taken related to various types of leave. These policies and procedures generally adhere to the guidelines/definitions for the types of absences listed below and define:
- the types of short term personal leave that will normally be ‘excused’ and expectations as to any documentation required by the college;
- the steps needed for approval of longer term leaves;
- options for making up coursework/experiences missed during absences (if feasible);
- the effect of an extended leave, or an unauthorized extension of an approved leave, on academic progression (e.g. the need to repeat coursework, apply for readmission);
- consequences for loan deferrals and the need to consult with the Office of Financial Aid regarding financial obligations/liabilities.
College procedures for approval of absences should also describe:
- Maximum allowed length of leave without a requirement for readmission with the dean’s approval and/or for re-application for admission;
- Definition of long term versus short term leave (if different from that defined below);
- Basis for requiring a student to repeat coursework during a subsequent term, a situation that would likely involve disruption of course sequencing, necessitating a long term leave and formal ‘withdrawal’ from the institution;
- Information as to any steps needed for re-admission;
- Options for making up missed coursework and tests, as well as any clinical experiences to the extent feasible;
- Paperwork/Forms required by the college and the Registrar.
Note that it is the college’s responsibility to inform the Office of the Registrar as soon as possible when a student begins a long-term leave by completing and submitting a “Change in Student Status Form” to assure appropriate documentation of student status.
Types of Absences:
- Short Term Leave (e.g. illness, accidents, bereavement, other personal matters, etc. as acknowledged by the college)
- Extended Leave of Absence (college recommended/required, medical, family leave, military leave, etc.)
- Chronic Medical/Psychological Leave (note: for disability-related leave students are to consult with Student Academic Support Services for guidance).
Short term vs. Long term leave:
- The definition of a short term leave may vary by college but generally involves an absence no longer than a week during an official school term. Students are to be advised to review and to adhere to their college’s attendance policy and promptly inform college officials of their absence.
- The duration of long term/extended leaves may vary depending on the reason for the leave. Normally an extended leave is longer than a week and not more than 6 months. In certain circumstances, such as in cases in which a student is required to repeat an academic year (see college sections of the academic catalog dealing with academic progression), the actual leave period may be greater than 6 months.
- Return after an extended leave requires approval of the dean or designee. For absences longer than 6 months, the student may be required to reapply for admission. Such admission is not granted automatically and is dependent on the student’s academic and disciplinary records and space availability.
- Students returning from a long term absence for any reason, including absences involving a disability or chronic medical condition, are encouraged to work closely with Student Academic Support Services on their return to aid their transition back into the academic environment.
- Special consideration is given to veterans requesting return after completing military service.
Withdrawals Due to Long Term Leave
For reporting purposes, any student who does not participate in coursework at UTHSC for 30 days is considered withdrawn, whether the leave is approved by the college or not. The college must file a Change in Student Status form, providing additional information as to the reasons for withdrawal, options for return, date of anticipated return and access to institution assets prior to the student’s return. There are two major categories relating to such leave: those initiated by the student (for academic, medical or personal reasons) and those due to nonattendance.
Withdrawal Based on Student-Requested Change in Status
In instances in which a student needs to withdraw from an academic program for an extended period, the student must provide written notice to the dean or designee of the college in which they are enrolled. The college of record then completes the Change of Student Status form, indicating whether the withdrawing student is leaving in good standing. On receipt of this form, the Bursar’s office determines whether the student is eligible for refund of some or all of their tuition and fees (see Bursar’s web site for refund policy - http://www.uthsc.edu/finance/bursar/pdfs/refundsrepay_2010_2011.pdf). Colleges are advised that withdrawals must be processed in a timely manner. Otherwise, the student and/or the respective college will stand accountable for any fees/tuition charged.
Withdrawal due to Non-Attendance
A student who ceases to attend courses without formal approval from his/her college will be considered to have withdrawn. Colleges must notify the Registrar as soon as such students are identified and initiate a change of student status that triggers notification of all supporting offices. If the student has received Title IV Aid, the Financial Aid Office will perform a Return to Title IV calculation and the Registrar’s Office will report the change of student status to the federal funding agency. The grade point average for the student will be reported as zero during this period of enrollment. The date recorded for the change in status will be used to determine whether the student is eligible for repayment of a portion of their refunds of tuition and fees. It is the responsibility of the student to repay all loans in accordance with his/her loan agreements.
Each college has a defined policy and procedure for academic progress and promotion. Students should refer to the college section of the Academic Catalog for College specific progress and promotion requirements and policies.
If a student is dismissed from a program for unsatisfactory academic progress and initiates the college level appeals process, the college must await the outcome of the college appeal before initiating the process to change student status. Once a final decision is rendered by the Dean, the Student Status Change Workflow should be submitted by the College. A copy of the Dean’s final appeal decision letter should be forwarded to Office of the Registrar.
The grade(s) recorded for coursework for a student on an official Leave of Absence (LOA) will be determined by the timing of the leave relative to the end of the term, the anticipated return date, and realistic options for completion of coursework in a timely manner. If, in the opinion of the dean or designee, there is a reasonable likelihood that the student can complete all remaining assignments and tests in all affected courses prior to the beginning of, or during, the next term such that academic progress would not be adversely affected, the student will be assigned a grade of ‘I’ (incomplete) on his/her transcript for each of the affected courses. The student will be required to complete all remaining course requirements by the end of the term following that in which the ‘incomplete’ was received; otherwise the ‘I’ will be changed to an ‘F’ for the permanent record. Alternatively, if it is deemed unlikely that the student can make up the required coursework within the next term following the leave such that the student would be required to repeat the affected course(s), the dean or designee will record one of the following notations on the student’s transcript:
- If withdrawal occurred before the midpoint of a course, the grade for the uncompleted course(s) will be recorded as a ‘W’ on the official transcript.
- If withdrawal occurred after the midpoint, but before the course(s) was (were) 70% completed, the grade for the uncompleted course(s) will be recorded as either ‘WP’ (withdrawn passing) or ‘WF’ (withdrawn failing) depending on the student’s grade point average in the course at the time of withdrawal.
- Once a course is > 70% completed, a withdrawal is not normally permitted except under extenuating circumstances, thus the student will receive zero(s) for any uncompleted assignments and tests during that term. The final course grade will incorporate those zero(s) into the grade calculation.
- Attendance Policy
- Course Drop/Add Policy
March 19, 2013 (approved)
April 16, 2013 (revised)
November 19, 2013 (revised)
Committee on Academic and Student Affairs
Next Scheduled Review
Office of Responsibility