The College


Each year, approximately 200 Brown students take a leave of absence to engage in meaningful activities that complement their academic studies.

Students on leave may work, travel, volunteer, spend time with family, or take time to care for themselves or others. Sometimes academic, personal, or medical issues motivate a leave. At other times, students need space to reflect on their experiences in and out of the classroom. Seeing how classroom learning relates to the outside world is not always easy. A leave may help bridge this gap.

This page explains procedures for taking a personal leave of absence. For information on medical leaves, contact Student Support Services at 401-863-3145.

Taking a leave of absence may have implications for financial aid, visa status, and athletics compliance. Students receiving financial aid should consult with the Office of Financial Aid to understand how a leave may affect their financial aid package.

Students studying at Brown on a visa must consult with an OISSS advisor to discuss the implications of a leave of absence for their immigration status and/or student visa. Likewise, student athletes are encouraged to consult the Athletics Compliance office on implications for athletic eligibility.

Requesting a Personal Leave

Once you have an idea of what you might do on a leave, meet with an academic advising dean to discuss your plans and to request that the necessary online forms be completed. It is essential that you understand how a leave might affect your academic progress and degree completion plans before taking your leave. After three years away from Brown, students must petition the Committee on Academic Standing to return to their studies at the University.

Students should be attentive to the appropriate deadlines discussed in the Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of this webpage.

Review the Leavetaking Checklist

Requesting a Return to Studies: Procedures and Deadlines

Students on personal leave for fewer than three years should submit the online return to studies petition no later than April 1 to return in the subsequent fall. To return in the spring, students should submit the online petition no later than October 1. Requests to return received before these deadlines will be reviewed on a monthly basis in the month of the deadline and the month before; however, students should not expect approval of requests to return to studies before the deadline. These deadlines in some instances allow approved  students to participate in online pre-registration for the semester of their return; however, this is not guaranteed.

Students on any kind of leave for more than three years must petition the Committee on Academic Standing to return to studies by May 1 for the fall semester  and by November 1 for the spring semester, but are highly encouraged to initiate a conversation with an academic dean  two to three months before these deadlines to prepare a viable academic plan and the strongest possible petition to return to studies. Students on a personal leave, refused registration, or academic suspension should email for instructions. Students who left Brown on a medical leave should contact Student Support Services.

Review the Return from Leave Checklist



Withdrawal is not the same as leavetaking. Students who wish to withdraw from Brown permanently must contact and an academic dean will reply. The deans will help ensure that the student is making a fully informed decision. Because withdrawing is a permanent decision, students are advised to discuss their withdrawal plans carefully with their families. Withdrawal may have financial aid and tuition implications that students and their families should know about before deciding to withdraw.

Peer Advising and Leavetaking Stories

The Curricular Resource Center (CRC) provides peer advising for students interested in personal leaves. Stop by the CRC to learn what other students have done while on leave and to discuss your options with our knowledgeable peer advisors.

Leaves come in all shapes and sizes. CRC Leavetaking Coordinators, seek to gather and present leavetaking stories that are inclusive and represent the breadth of experiences and challenges for students who take leave from Brown. Visit our Leavetaking Blog for stories and reflections from past leavetakers.

Hear Leavetaking Stories

Frequently Asked Questions

Undergraduates may take a voluntary leave of absence for a semester or longer. There are two types of voluntary leaves of absence: medical leaves, which are granted in consultation with Student Support Services, and personal leaves, granted in consultation with academic advising deans.

Students request a personal leave of absence for many reasons: To take a break from the pace of college, explore a career pathway in an internship or job, spend time with family or attend to personal matters, experience personal enrichment opportunities outside of the academic environment, enlist in military service, and more. 

Students planning a personal leave should consult the leavetaking checklist for an overview of the process.

Students intending to file for a personal leave of absence should request their intent to do so by May 1 for a leave during the following fall semester, or by December 1 for the following spring semester. Leave requests submitted after these deadlines are considered on a case-by-case basis. Students requesting a personal leave must speak with an advising dean about their proposed personal leave plan. If you remain active on the day classes begin, you are financially obligated for tuition for that semester. If you withdraw for personal leave after the start of classes, you are subject to the Bursar’s pro rata reimbursement rules for the first five weeks of the semester. Please note that requesting a leave just before classes begin may mean it is more difficult to reach deans or administrative staff who are occupied with planning for the start of the semester.

To discuss your plans and request a personal leave, you should schedule a meeting with an academic advising dean. Once you are certain of your decision to request a leave, you should submit an electronic leave request form in ASK, which the Dean must approve. (See the “Student Petitions” tab.) If you are approved for a leave, the Registrar’s office will change your status from active to inactive in Banner for the upcoming semester. 

As long as your leave is approved and processed before the first day of classes, you can expect to receive a full-tuition reimbursement for any fees paid for the upcoming semester.

Students should complete the online petition to request to return from a leave of absence by October 1 for the following spring semester and by April 1 for the following fall semester. As with the deadlines for declaring a leave, late requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. While the College will make every effort to accommodate requests for return to studies for a particular term, we cannot guarantee there will be space available.

To petition to return from personal leave, please log onto the Student Petitions portal in ASK (or navigate to "Student Petitions" tab; select "Personal Leaves" and then "My Return Requests") and create a return request by the deadlines listed above. The University will begin reviewing return requests after each deadline, and will email all students after decisions have been finalized regarding enrollments for the following semester. 

Students seeking to be cleared for return from a Medical Leave should follow the procedures on the Student Support Services website.

As long as the personal leave is filed and approved before the semester begins, a family who has paid tuition for the upcoming semester can receive a full refund with no tuition penalty. In other words, any tuition payments made for the semester are refunded to the family as long as the leave is declared before the first day of classes. A leave declared on or after the first day of classes is subject to a partial refund of tuition per the schedule posted on the Bursar Office’s website.

The decision to take a leave of absence will not affect an aided student’s eligibility for financial aid upon their approved return to Brown as an active student. However, students must adhere to all published deadlines in applying for financial aid before returning to Brown. Students should contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss any considerations particular to their situation -- including any U.S. federal loans or private loans/scholarships the student may have. Students away during the spring semester should still file their FAFSA form by April 1.

Students residing on campus should contact Residential Life to make arrangements to fully vacate their residence before the start of the term. Students with belongings still in their on-campus residence after the start of the term may be charged pro-rated housing fees. Students with questions about housing should contact Residential Life. Any questions about meal plans should be directed to Dining Services.

When a student takes a leave of absence, upon return, they typically follow the academic deadlines that align with their current semester level, unless they have pursued approved credit-bearing coursework during their time away from Brown. For instance, a sophomore who has been on a leave of absence for a semester would still declare their concentration in their fourth semester, even if their fourth semester is in the fall rather than the spring.

Some concentrations’ course sequences are structured specifically around a fall-spring sequence; declared concentrators should have a conversation with their advisor if they are planning to take a leave to discuss the specifics of their particular academic situation. First-year and sophomore students are also encouraged to let their academic advisor know of their intention to take a leave.

In recognition of the scores of students completing their degree requirements in December, the College hosts a Midyear Completion Celebration for students, families, and friends. Students who complete their degree requirements in December may participate in Commencement festivities in May prior to degree completion, and they officially receive their diploma when degrees are conferred the following May.

Students enrolled in the University Health Insurance plan are typically eligible to continue their enrollment for up to one year under certain conditions. For more details, please see the Office of Insurance website.

Contact the academic advising dean with whom you filed your leave. A student who wishes to rescind their request for a leave of absence after the official notification deadlines of April 1 (for fall semester enrollment) and October 1 (for spring semester enrollment) must be cleared by a Deputy Dean of the College in order to continue their enrollment in the upcoming semester.

Students retain some but not all resources while on leave. Below are details about which resources are available to students on leave, particularly those who stay in the Providence area.

  • Email: Students automatically retain their Brown email for a year after which it will default to expire. However, students can easily extend this by simply contacting
  • Card Swipe and Building Access: Students do not maintain access to the dining facilities, residence halls, or other Brown owned buildings that require a swipe to enter.
  • Participating in Campus Activities & Student Organizations: Many events on campus are open to the public or open to anyone who is the guest of a current Brown student. Students who are on leave can participate in any Brown activities or meetings that would normally be open to the public or as a guest of a Brown student at events that permit guests. However, students who are on leave are not permitted to hold a student leadership position (such as president of a student group) on campus during the time of their leave and are not allowed to reserve spaces on campus. If a student should not be attending campus events, this will be communicated to them by a dean at the time of their leavetaking.
  • Working for Brown: Students may apply for a job that is advertised to the wider public, however jobs classified as "Student Employment" are only available to actively enrolled students.
  • Brown's Health Insurance Plan: Visit this website to learn more.
  • Fitness Center & Athletic Facilities: Students on leave do not retain automatic access to athletic facilities. However, they may purchase a pass to utilize the facilities under the Athletics alumnus membership policy. More information on this policy can be found here.
  • Library Access: Like other building access, students do not maintain access to the libraries once their leave becomes effective. However, library access may be granted to a student on leave if there is a compelling reason to do so.
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): Students must be enrolled (not on a leave of absence) in order to meet with a CAPS clinician. However, CAPS maintains a list of community therapists.
  • Academic Advising Deans: Students on a leave of absence can still make advising appointments or attend drop-in hours with an academic advising dean.