Section 5. Leaves of Absence
When considering a leave, students should always consult with the sources of their funding, whether a sponsoring organization or a Stanford department, to find out whether a leave will affect their continued funding status.
To the extent practicable, departments act on the principle that an approved Leave of Absence "stops the clock" with regard to eligibility for Stanford-based financial support (University fellowships, and teaching/research assistantships). However, because both academic programs and financial aid packages are carefully sequenced over a period of years for particular cohorts of students, individual interruptions of normal academic progress and scheduled employment - especially interruptions of more than a quarter - may result in loss of future funding and slower time to degree. Whenever a leave is being considered, students should work out a plan for continuation with their advisor and gain a clear understanding of what their future funding opportunities will be.
Some sponsoring organizations frown on interruptions to degree programs. Some allow only leaves for medical reasons or military service. Others require prior approval of the fellowship agency. Students should consult with their funding agency.
Students with outstanding educational loans need to consider carefully the effect of taking a leave on their loan status. Once the student stops registering, a grace period for repaying the loan begins. If the leave period is longer than the grace period, the student will have to begin repaying the loan while on a leave of absence. Prior to taking a leave, Perkins and University Long Term Loan borrowers should arrange to have an exit interview with the Student Financial Services Office. Stafford borrowers should contact both the Financial Aid Office and the lender(s).
A Leave of Absence Form [pdf file] must be approved, in advance, by the chair or director of graduate studies of the student's major department and submitted to the Registrar's Office for approval and processing. International students must also secure approval from the Bechtel International Center to ensure that visa requirements are met.
Eligibility for fee refund will depend on when the student's leave is approved and when the student last attended classes (or otherwise used university resources). Any refund of tuition or other fees will depend on the date of the withdrawal. More information is available in the Stanford Bulletin or from the Registrar's Office.
NOTE: Students on leave of absence may be able to make special arrangements to continue their university housing or their Cardinal Care insurance during quarters in which they will not be enrolled. They will need to deal directly with the university offices involved to do so. Non-enrolled students will make their payments directly to the offices involved, and will not be eligible for a Cardinal Care subsidy.
A Leave is normally granted for no longer than one calendar year. See Leave of Absence policy in the Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures (GAP) Handbook.
A Childbirth Accommodation policy is available at Stanford for registered and matriculated women graduate students (including students in professional schools) expecting a baby, as an alternative to a leave of absence. This policy provides a two-quarter academic accommodation period around the time of the birth.
Note also that Postdoctoral Scholars at Stanford are eligible, with sponsor approval, for sick leave, maternity leave, and family and medical leave, in accordance with University policy. Postdoctoral Scholars will also be eligible for one day paid vacation leave per calendar month of appointment, in addition to official University holidays.
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