Leave of Absence

Grinnell remains committed to academic continuity while observant of the public health challenges imposed by COVID-19. We are innovating and investing considerable financial resources to provide every student the opportunity to complete their degree within four years while working to minimize the amount of time students will need to spend away from campus. We are also trying to preserve space for future Grinnellians who will be applying for admission next year. Toward a goal of a timely degree completion and preserving opportunities for future Grinnellians, we encourage all students—whether on campus or online—to remain enrolled, full-time, throughout the 2020-21 academic year. Nevertheless, we recognize that some students may find it necessary to request a time away for one or more terms in the upcoming academic year.

How to Request a Leave of Absence

First-Year Students Who Did Not Enroll in Fall 1 or Fall 2

Due to the unusual circumstances of the pandemic, while most first-year students enrolled this fall in courses, a limited number of first-year students (e.g., international students who were unable to obtain a visa in time for Fall Term 1) were approved for a spring arrival or for a full gap year. At this time, no additional students will be approved for a gap year unless – due to circumstances beyond their control – they are unable to arrive for Spring 1 term (e.g., unable to cross borders) nor enroll as online students. Students who meet one of these criteria, may request an additional gap term for the spring, by emailing Sarah Fischer, Director of Admission, and provide a brief explanation for why you want to take a gap year.

Continuing Students

For continuing students, planned personal leaves of absence – between 1 and 4 terms in length during the 2020-21 academic year – remain an option. Students should note the cap on number of credits permitted to transfer and other considerations, detailed on the Leaves of Absence page hosted by Academic Advising. F-1 students should consult the Office of International Student Affairs.

If a taking a leave of absence is the decision that best meets a student’s needs, students are strongly encouraged to submit a Personal Leave of Absence Application well in advance of the term that they want to be awayhowever, applications will be accepted up until the Add/Drop deadline of the term. Students who have questions are welcome to contact Academic Advising.

Benefits of Full-Time Enrollment

  • Grinnell has a reputation of offering one of the very best classroom experiences in the United States. The same faculty who facilitate student learning on campus are the ones who are working diligently to offer innovative teaching in an online format.
  • Grinnell’s inventive approach to preparation for life after graduation through the Center for Careers, Life and Service (CLS) will continue, unabated, regardless of whether you study on campus or online. Access to some CLS services for students who take a Personal Leave will be restricted in 2020-21. Continuous full-time enrollment in fall 2020 and spring 2021 academic terms will be among the factors CLS will consider when reviewing summer 2021 internship applications. Students whose personal circumstances require them to take an Emergency/Medical and/or Personal Leave will not be penalized as part of the review process. Students must be enrolled as a full-time student during the term(s) when applications are due.
  • Students who remain enrolled full-time maintain their eligibility for funding opportunities awarded by a range of other offices and programs including the Rosenfield Program, Wilson Center, Institute for Global Engagement, Academic Dean’s Office, SGA, etc.).
  • Grinnell’s Off Campus Study (OCS) policy requires that students enroll full or part time in the term leading up to the off-campus study experience.

Grinnell is eager to accommodate the difficulties you face by enrolling full-time this year. If you have encountered financial difficulties, technology issues, international border crossing constraints, new health concerns or learning challenges, etc. we are prepared to assist in a variety of ways. Students should contact one of the offices listed on the Resources and Support for Students webpage beginning with Student Assistance if a student is unsure which resource is best for them.

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