Medical Leave of Absence and Involuntary Health-Related Withdrawal Policy

Policy Summary

Students may experience life situations, medical conditions, or psychological conditions that significantly impair their ability to function successfully and safely in their role as students. In these instances, a course reduction or time away from the University for treatment and recovery can often restore functioning to a level that will enable a return to the University. The decision to withdraw from a course or leave the University for medical reasons may happen at any time in the semester, independently of otherwise posted withdrawal deadlines. A medical leave, whether voluntary, involuntary or temporary, may be approved when criteria for the leave are met.

Reasons for the Policy

When a student becomes impaired to the extent of needing a medical leave of absence (MLOA), this impairment often impacts the broader community.

There are usually significant advantages to requesting an MLOA. These include:

  • Students may typically request an MLOA after published withdrawal deadlines have passed.
  • Students who take an approved MLOA will receive a W for their courses, which will not impact cumulative GPA.
  • An MLOA may reduce the negative impact on financial aid.
  • For students with tuition reimbursement insurance, an MLOA generally qualifies a student for benefits. (Students who think they may need to take a MLOA during the coming semester may wish to consider purchasing tuition reimbursement insurance before that semester begins.)
  • For international students, an MLOA may provide a way to remain in the USA while maintaining legal status.


  • Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA): a voluntary withdrawal from the University in order to improve mental or physical health, which has been supported by a healthcare provider and approved by the Senior Director of the Center for Academic Success.
  • Medical Course load Reduction: a voluntary course load reduction after published deadlines for withdrawing from courses, which is granted to improve mental or physical health.
  • Voluntary interim emergency leave: a temporary leave from the University to accommodate a medical or mental health emergency.
  • Involuntary Health-Related Withdrawal: an involuntary withdrawal from the University imposed on the student by the University as a result of behavior due to medical or mental health conditions that meet the standards for such withdrawal, as defined below.
  • Direct Threat: a significant risk to others’ health or safety that cannot be eliminated by the provision of auxiliary aids or services or by a modification of policies, practices, or procedures.
  • Significant Risk: Behavior with a high probability of substantial harm to the University community, given information concerning the available behavior at the time of consideration.
  • Substantial Disruption: Behavior that continually and considerably interferes with other students’ participation in academic, extracurricular, housing/residence life, employment, or other university-related activities.


A medical leave, whether voluntary, involuntary, or temporary, will be approved when criteria for the leave are met. Students placed on such leave must leave campus as directed by the Senior Director of the Center for Academic Success, or a designee. If accommodations are required upon a student’s re-enrollment, those will be reviewed by the Senior Director of the Center for Academic Success in consultation with appropriate administrators in Health, Counseling &
Psychological Services, and/or Disability Services. If no accommodations are required, students will be expected to follow the procedures described below in order to re-enroll.

Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA) or Medical Course Load Reduction

All requests for an MLOA or medical course load reduction require the recommendation of a healthcare provider. An MLOA or medical course load reduction may be granted when a student experiences serious medical or psychological issues while enrolled as a student that impact the student’s ability to function effectively, including ability to attend class, cognitive functioning, or ability to complete work. Students who determine a need for an MLOA between semesters should go through regular withdrawal procedures through the Registrar’s Office.

The process of re-enrollment is described online, and specific recommendations are outlined in the MLOA approval letter sent to the student from the Center for Academic Success. Students are strongly encouraged to follow the recommendations outlined in the approval letter to help facilitate their return. In addition, students who are approved for an MLOA are generally expected to spend at least three months to one full semester away from the University to focus on treatment and recovery from the matter(s) that precipitated the MLOA before reenrollment will be approved. Please note that University’s decision to support re-enrollment will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Senior Director of the Center for Academic Success in consultation with the Dean of Health & Wellness.

To allow time for processing requests for re-enrollment, previously enrolled students must submit all required materials by the deadline for the semester they intend to return, as follows:

  • Fall Semester: June 15
  • Spring Semester: November 15
  • Summer Semester: March 15

Involuntary Health-Related Withdrawal

To create a safe and healthy learning environment and ensure the well-being of all students and employees, Susquehanna University may initiate an Involuntary Health-Related Withdrawal (IHRW) of a student. An IHRW is enacted if it is determined that, due to the student’s medical or mental health condition, the student poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or the student’s, the student’s behavior is a substantial disruption to the University community, and/or the student has allegedly violated the student code of conduct and upon a preliminary investigation it is reasonably believed that the alleged misconduct was involuntary or the student lacks the capacity to comprehend the nature of the act or to participate in the disciplinary process. In determining whether a student meets the criteria for a IHRW, the University’s Concern Assessment Response Evaluation (CARE) Team will make an individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical information and the best available objective evidence, to ascertain the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability that the potential injury will occur; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures or the provision of auxiliary aids or services will mitigate the risk.

Voluntary interim emergency leave

If a student has a critical incident or life event that requires them to leave the University temporarily but does meet the criteria for a Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA), a Voluntary Interim Emergency Leave (VIEL) might be appropriate. Unlike an MLOA, a VIEL may be implemented immediately when the Senior Director of the Center for Academic Success, or designee, determines that the student’s situation necessitates a brief absence from the University.

Right to Appeal

A student may appeal any of the following decisions rendered under this policy:

  • An Involuntary Health-Related Withdrawal from the University and/or from University housing recommended by the CARE team.
  • The conditions recommended by the CARE Team in order for the student to remain enrolled and/or continue living in University housing.
  • A denial of the student’s request for re-enrollment.
  • The conditions specified by the CARE Team for re-enrollment in the event of an Involuntary Health-Related Withdrawal.
  • An Involuntary Health-Related Withdrawal based on the student’s failure to comply with this policy.

The appeal must be based on a material procedural error and/or the student’s receipt of relevant new information. The Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students will serve as the appeal officer.


A student who is approved for voluntary or involuntary withdrawal or leave of absence for medical reasons will be given a “W” grade in courses from which they have withdrawn. An administrative hold will be placed on the student’s academic record to prevent any unauthorized reenrollment by the student.


Refunds of tuition and meal plan payments will be made in accordance with applicable University policies and procedures.