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Returning After a Leave of Absence

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Whether you left Stanford to do some personal exploration, to deal with a family emergency, or to focus on your own health and wellness, Stanford encourages and welcomes your return to undergraduate study.

Your Academic Advisors understand that returning to Stanford can seem complex. On this page we offer some explanations of the different return scenarios, and a description of which process you may have to go through depending on your circumstances.

For a comprehensive review of Stanford's return policies and procedure, you may consult the Stanford Bulletin and the Returning to Stanford page linked below. 

Stanford Bulletin: Leaves and Reinstatement
Academic Advising: Returning to Stanford

Getting Started

No matter your situation, your first step is to meet with an Academic Advisor and start planning for your return well ahead of your desired return date.

We recommend you start planning for your return at least 8 weeks in advance. Starting the return process early will ensure that you have enough time not only to register for classes, but to apply for student housing and financial aid if necessary, which are done through separate processes with their own deadlines. International students will also want to get in touch with Bechtel International Center.

Academic Advising has also published a useful Returning to Stanford booklet that outlines the process and answers many common student questions.

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Return Scenarios

Returning As Planned

If you filed for a voluntary Leave of Absence (LOA) and are returning on the date originally indicated on your LOA form, you don't have to undergo any formal return process in order to register for classes. Stanford is expecting you back and you should be able to sign up for courses as soon as enrollment opens for your return quarter.  But check for any enrollment holds on your account and make sure you take the necessary steps to clear them. 

Keep in mind that you must apply for housing and also apply for financial aid (if applicable) through separate processes that have their own deadlines. While not mandatory, we recommend a meeting with your Academic Advisor to help you consider your course choices and academic plans for the future. International students will also want to get in touch with Bechtel International Center.

Returning Earlier Than Planned

If you filed for a voluntary Leave of Absence (LOA) but want to return to Stanford earlier than the date originally indicated on your LOA form, you should fill out the Early Return from Leave of Absence eForm on Axess. To find it, log in to Axess, click on the Student tab, and choose “Student eForms” from the Quick Links menu. Click on “Available Forms” to find the Early Return from Leave of Absence eForm. You will also need to sign up for a meeting with your Academic Advisor to discuss your return and get their signature on your eForm.

Returning After Being Discontinued

If your Leave of Absence has expired, or you left the university without ever filing for a Leave of Absence, your student status becomes "discontinued." But don't be intimidated! Stanford still welcomes your return, and many Stanford students resume their studies years after their original matriculation.

If you were discontinued this current quarter

If you were just discontinued this current quarter, you may be eligible to submit a special LOA eForm before the current quarter ends.  This will change your status from discontinued to an active LOA. 

To find the eForm, visit https://eforms.stanford.edu.  Click on “Browse Available Forms” and search for "Leave of Absence for Discontinued Students."  Note that you will have to meet with your Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and get their endorsement on your eForm.  You may only use this eForm if you were discontinued this quarter due to nonenrollment.  If you were discontinued in a previous quarter, you must instead submit a Request to Return and Register (see below).

If you were discontinued in a previous quarter

Students who were discontinued prior to the current quarter will need to go through a special return process called the Request to Return and Register (see below). Given the time that you've been away, this is a process meant to encourage you to reflect on your experiences, think about your academic plans, and consider what resources you may want to seek out to help ease your transition back to the university.

The Request to Return and Register

In general, when submitting a Request to Return and Register you'll need to:

  • Meet with an Academic Advisor (either in person or through a phone or video meeting)
  • Contact any relevant partner offices (for example, Student Financial Services) and clear related obligations, including any financial holds
  • Check in with your major (or intended major) department about your remaining requirements
  • Write a personal statement about your past circumstances, current academic plans, and strategies for future success
  • Complete the Request to Return and Register form
  • Submit the completed Request to Return and Register materials to your Academic Advisor.

The Request to Return and Register is not a readmission process. You do not have to apply to the university all over again! Rather, the Request is structured to help you think through all aspects of your return, including any changes you may have to make or support services you may need to utilize in order to thrive at the university. Your Academic Advisor can help you navigate the necessary steps and offer support both before and after your return to Stanford.

The Request to Return and Register should be started early, at least 8 weeks in advance of the quarter you wish to return. Keep in mind that if your request is approved, you will still need to apply for housing and for financial aid through separate processes, and that these applications have their own deadlines. If you know you will need to apply for housing and financial aid, you may wish to start the Request to Return and Register 3 or 4 months in advance to make sure you have enough time for these for these applications.

See Also

Return to the Advising Student Handbook