Medical leave is a category of non-academic leave for students who are temporarily unable to continue their studies due to a medical or psychological condition. While on leave the student is not considered to be currently enrolled in the College but is considered to be in good standing with the College.
A medical leave of absence is granted by the director of College Health Services or the director of Counseling Services. Because a medical leave is sometimes needed to cope with sudden emergencies, there is no deadline or form for application. The medical leave must, however, be approved/granted prior to the end of finals for the academic semester. The director granting or approving the medical leave will notify the Office of Academic Deans of the leave of absence.
If you feel you might need to take a medical leave, you should speak with someone as soon as possible. You may speak first with your academic dean or speak directly to a clinician in Health or Counseling Services. Often it is helpful to speak with someone in Health or Counseling Services about whether a leave makes sense for you and then meet with your dean about your coursework and an academic plan that supports your health and well-being.
International students must consult with the dean of international students about their immigration status prior to going on medical leave.
It is the policy of College Health Services and Counseling Services to keep all details of the medical leave confidential. Although it is always helpful when students feel comfortable communicating with their professors and advisors, students are not asked to explain their specific health concerns to anyone other than the directors or staff of College Health Services or Counseling Services. No other offices will be give information regarding the health condition without the request and written release of the student.
Length of Leave
The length of the medical leave is dependent on the nature of and severity of the health concern. The majority of medical leaves extend over two semesters, but in some cases are shorter, and they can be extended for up to two years. It is the concern of Health Services and Counseling Services that the leave be long enough to allow a student to regain the health and energy required to manage a full-time academic load in a residential environment. Leaves related to chronic illness, substance abuse, and to injuries requiring rehabilitation most frequently require additional time.
Clearance to Return
Students on medical leave are not automatically reinstated to Mount Holyoke College. Written clearance from the director of College Health Services or Counseling Services is needed prior to registration for Mount Holyoke classes, assignment of housing, or completion of financial aid procedures. The student may be asked to provide a written recommendation from an appropriate health care provider confirming that the student’s health will support a successful return to full-time academic work on a residential campus.
Requests or inquiry regarding a return from medical leave must be made by May 1 for the fall semester and November 1 for the spring semester. A student wishing to be readmitted to Mount Holyoke for the purpose of transferring in credits from study at another institution will not require medical clearance. See Study Away During or Following a Medical Leave for more information.
Extension of Medical Leave or Withdrawal
If the student is not prepared to return to the campus in the semester following twelve months of medical leave, she must request in writing an extension of her medical leave.
This request should be submitted to the director of College Health Services or director of Counseling and should include specific information about the student’s need for more time away. The director of College Health Services or director of Counseling will approve extensions and notify the dean of the College of all extensions of medical leave.
The student will be formally withdrawn from the College when the medical leave has extended beyond twelve months and the student has not requested an extension or when the medical leave has been longer than 24 months and there is not a plan for return in the subsequent semester.
If a student has been formally withdrawn, return will require both medical and academic clearance. The student would request a return from medical leave from either the director of College Health Services or the director of Counseling Services and then apply for readmission.
Grace Periods and Repayment
Medical leave is a form of non-academic leave. While on non-academic leave, you will not be reported as enrolled at MHC. If you receive federal loans, you have a six month grace period before you are expected to begin repayment. This means that as dictated by federal regulation, Federal Direct Student Loans and outside/alternative loans will enter re-payment status after 180 days (generally after one un-enrolled semester; not after a normal summer or January vacation). The grace period for Perkins loans is nine months. You may request forbearance for repayment by contacting the appropriate lender: Department of Education for Federal Direct loans, ACS for Perkins loans, private lenders for alternative loans.
Once you have used your grace period, you will not have a grace period again upon graduation and will go into repayment immediately. However, you may request in-school deferrals for any of your student loans if you enroll in a graduate program. Subsidized loans will not accrue interest during in-school deferments; unsubsidized and alternative loans will accrue interest and interest will be capitalized if not paid quarterly.
Aid for Your Return
While on leave, you should apply for financial aid for the academic year you plan to return according to published deadlines. Late applications may receive more assistance from loan sources and less grant funding than applications that are submitted on time (May 1 for all documents and on-line applications for the next academic year).
Students with past due balances will not be able to order transcripts, participate in room draw, or register on line. In addition, late fees will be assessed each month on past due balances. Students with significant past due balances will not be approved to return to Mount Holyoke until the balance is paid in full.
Questions or concerns should be addressed to Student Financial Services at 413-538-2291 or by sending an email to Student Financial Services. A special financial aid counselor is available to talk with students who are taking sudden non-academic and medical leaves.
Students who take a leave of absence will be refunded per the schedule outlined by Student Financial Services.
If you were enrolled in the Student Medical Insurance Plan for greater than 31 days before you go on leave, the plan will remain in effect for the full plan year.
Students who are enrolled in the Mount Holyoke health insurance and who go on leave after the fall semester may waive the insurance coverage for the remainder of the academic year and receive the refund on that insurance if they request in writing that the coverage be terminated, assuming they do not receive grant funding for the insurance. The request must be made within 30 days of the end of the fall semester. Students who wish to continue their coverage may do so. Students who received grant funds for the health insurance coverage will have the grant deducted from their account for the spring amount and they will be responsible for paying for the spring insurance coverage. If your leave extends beyond the coverage period of the current plan year (if you are on leave when you would have renewed your plan), you will not be eligible for further renewal of the Student Medical Insurance Plan.
Questions should be directed to Student Financial Services.
Study Away During or After Leave
In some cases, students are encouraged to pursue academic courses or employment during a medical leave of absence as a means of determining their readiness to return to Mount Holyoke.
A student who wishes to obtain permissions to transfer credit back to Mount Holyoke does not need to obtain medical clearance. If the student has been formally withdrawn, she must apply for readmission. If she has not been withdrawn, she would have the official transcript of her work away sent to the Mount Holyoke Registrar’s Office and complete any necessary permission forms.
Students on medical leave who wish to take an approved academic leave or study abroad immediately following the medical leave must first obtain clearance from the director of College Health Services or the director of Counseling Services, as if they were returning to Mount Holyoke, and then submit the appropriate form to apply for an academic leave.
Non-Academic Leave: Grades and Credit Transfer
Students who take courses while on non-academic leave of absence are not guaranteed credit for such work, but may, upon their return, contact the Registrar’s Office regarding the credit approval process. The Registrar's Transfer Information summarizes the rules. Those studying while on leave should note especially the per-semester (16), per-summer (8), and per-January (3) credit limits, as well as the overall limits and the limit of 12 credits combined for all summers & January terms. It is very important to have the courses you are hoping to transfer reviewed, in advance, by the Registrar's Office to ensure that they will qualify for transfer as you expect.
For courses taken outside the U.S. while on non-academic leave, the Registrar’s Office will consult, if need be, with the Center for Global Initiatives to determine whether the host program or university is one that is ordinarily approved by the College.
If you will be petitioning for credit after a non-academic leave, be sure to bring all your work back to MHC with you (papers, syllabi, reading lists, etc.). If there are further questions about the content or level of a course, these materials may be critical to decisions about credit transfer.