Leaves of Absence and Withdrawals

STUDENT HANDBOOK: Academics and Field Work Term

Leaves of Absence and Withdrawals (Medical, Involuntary, and Disciplinary)

Leaves of Absence

Students who wish to leave Bennington for one or two terms, with plans to resume their studies after one or two terms away, must complete a Leave of Absence form and submit it to the Office of the Provost and Dean by August 1 for fall leaves and February 1 for spring leaves. Leaves are generally granted for one or two terms only. In addition, departing students are required to have an exit interview with a member of the Office of the Provost and Dean. Leaves are not granted once a term has begun for that same term; please see the withdrawal sections below for options after the term has begun. International students should be aware that a leave may jeopardize their F1 student visa.  For external reporting purposes, students on leaves of absence are reported as withdrawn; therefore, students receiving financial aid must complete a loan exit interview online and may have to begin repayment of student loans (see the Financial Aid Handbook for more information). 

Students on leave must have permission, in advance, from the Director of Campus Safety to visit campus.

Withdrawals from the College

Students may withdraw from the College at any time, but students desiring re-entry must reapply and have no right to guaranteed readmission following withdrawal. Students wishing to withdraw must notify the Office of the Provost and Dean in writing or via email and must complete the Withdrawal form. Once the Office of the Provost and Dean has received notification of withdrawal the student must vacate the campus housing assignment in accordance with the suspension, dismissal, or withdrawal section in Residential Policies. Students may be required to withdraw if it is determined that there is no possibility of passing any of their courses for any reason (see Administrative Withdrawal section below). Students who withdraw after the first day of classes will receive a W on their transcript and earn 0 credits for the term and their cumulative pace will be adjusted accordingly (see Quantitative Standard) should they apply to reenter at a later date. Withdrawing students are required to have an exit interview with a member of the Office of the Provost and Dean. Students receiving financial aid must complete a loan exit interview online and may have to begin repayment of student loans (see the Financial Aid Handbook for more information about returning federal funds after a withdrawal). 

International students should be aware that withdrawal jeopardizes their F1 student visa. Students who have withdrawn from the College must have permission, in advance, from the Director of Campus Safety to visit campus.

Administrative Withdrawal

If, after consultation with faculty, it is determined that there is no possibility for a student to pass any of their courses due to performance and/or attendance issues, they will be required to withdraw before the end of the term. Withdrawn students are not permitted to remain on campus and will be required to move out of their campus residence within 48 hours of notification of Administrative Withdrawal.

FWT Considerations for Leaves and Withdrawals

If an undergraduate student takes a leave of absence or withdraws after the last day of FWT, the student is still required to meet all FWT requirements and deadlines. If a student notifies the College of a  Withdrawal or Leave of Absence during FWT, the student’s registered employer(s) will be notified that the student is no longer currently enrolled at the College and therefore is unable to use the internship to fulfill an academic requirement.

Reentry After Withdrawal

Students who have withdrawn from the College and wish to return may apply for reentry.  Applications for reentry are reviewed by the reentry committee. Reentry after withdrawal is at the discretion of the College. Completed applications for fall-term admission are due by April 1; applications for spring-term admission are due by October 1. Applications for reentry must include a description of the student’s activities since withdrawal from the College, with particular emphasis on any academic work or employment undertaken. The application must clearly articulate the student’s reasons for wishing to re-enter the College, as well as the applicant’s academic goals. Other materials may be required by the discretion of the reentry committee, depending upon the circumstances of the student’s withdrawal. Students approved for reentry after withdrawal are subject to all regular requirements for new students (financial, health, etc.). Students with outstanding financial obligations to the College will not be readmitted.

Medical Withdrawals

A student who needs to be absent from the College for an extended period of time (generally more than two weeks during a term or for an entire term or more) for a medical and/or psychological condition may apply for Medical Withdrawal as described below under Applications for Medical Withdrawals. In addition, a student may be placed on Involuntary Medical Withdrawal under the circumstances described below under Involuntary Medical Withdrawals. Students on either type of medical withdrawal are not permitted on campus without the explicit prior approval of the Director of Campus Safety. International students should be aware that a Medical Withdrawal has implications for their F1 student visa . Further, withdrawing from the term for medical reasons will still impact a student’s cumulative pace and may affect academic standing upon reentry (see Quantitative Standard). It will also have implications for financial aid. For more information about the financial implications, refer to the Financial Aid Handbook and the Withdrawal and Refund Policy on our website.

Applications for Medical Withdrawals

Applications for Medical Withdrawals are reviewed by the Dean of Students or designee in consultation with the Director of Health Services and/or the Director of Psychological Services, as appropriate, and the Dean of Studies or designee. Supporting documentation is required from a medical professional within two weeks from the date the student notified the College of their intention to withdraw for medical reasons.  For Medical Withdrawals initiated during a term, students must remain away from the College for the remainder of the term. Due to the application deadlines for reentry from a withdrawal, students typically remain separated from the College for a minimum of one full term following the term from which they withdrew. Students who take a Medical Withdrawal during a term will receive a notation of “withdrawn” for all their courses and will not receive credit for their work that term (please see Quantitative Standard regarding the impact this may have on a student’s academic standing upon reentry to the College). Students who take a second Medical Withdrawal are typically required to remain separated from the College for a minimum of two full terms.

Involuntary Medical Withdrawals

When the Dean of Students and the Dean of Studies, after consultation with the Director of Health Services and/or the Director of Psychological Services, and/or with an outside health care professional consulted by the College, as deemed appropriate, have determined that: there is a reasonable basis to believe, based on an individualized assessment of a student’s behavior and/or other relevant information, that the student’s medical, psychological, or substance use-related condition prevents them from safely and/or effectively participating in the College’s academic or residential life programs, such that the student is not otherwise qualified to attend the College; or there is a reasonable basis to believe, based on an individualized assessment of a student’s behavior and/or other relevant information, that as a result of the student’s medical, psychological, or substance use-related condition, the student poses a significant risk to the health or safety of others; or causes or threatens to cause property damage; or engages in behavior that is unduly disruptive of others in the Bennington College community, the student may be placed on Involuntary Medical Withdrawal. Conditions for applying for reentry may be specified by the College at the time of the involuntary medical withdrawal, or subsequently. The student may appeal an involuntary medical withdrawal decision to the Provost and Dean of the College or designee in writing within 5 days of the notification to the student of Involuntary Medical Withdrawal, or such longer appeal period as may be granted by the Provost and Dean of the College or designee given the circumstances. The decision of the Provost and Dean of the College or designee is final. Students may request reentry following the satisfaction of terms and time periods specified in the initial or subsequent notices regarding the Involuntary Medical Withdrawal.

Reentry After Medical Withdrawals

A student applying to return from a Medical Withdrawal must do so in accordance with the following requirements and as noted in the student’s individual letter concerning the Medical Withdrawal. The process is normally as follows:

 

  1. The reentry application must include all written materials required by the Office of the Provost and Dean as noted in the student’s Medical Withdrawal letter and as required by this policy. Generally a written statement from the student is required explaining the reasons for the student’s departure, the student’s activities since leaving the College, and the student’s readiness to return. (This statement may also serve as an appeal for Academic Probation for students who withdraw from the College during a term of Academic Warning). It may be necessary for a student to write a draft of an academic plan as part of the reentry application process, in which case the Dean of Studies will review and make a recommendation. To coincide with the registration and housing processes, applications for readmission must be received by April 1 for the Fall term or by October 1 for the Spring term. 

  2. Recent documentation (dated within a month of the submission of the reentry materials) by a medical professional with qualifications acceptable to the Director of Health Services or the Director of Psychological Services must be included. The documentation must address: the student’s capacity to be proactively and consistently responsible for their own health, their ability to lead an independent life on a residential campus (including personal care and nourishment and other daily living needs), and their readiness to manage the demands of a self-directed education and negotiate a challenging academic schedule. The documentation must also address any additional criteria required by the Office of the Provost and Dean. The student must sign a medical release for their medical professionals in order to enable additional communication as necessary. In addition, the College may require the student to be evaluated by a medical professional designated by the Director of Health Services or the Director of Psychological Services.

  3. After all paperwork is submitted, an interview will be scheduled with the re-entry committee, which typically consists of the Dean of Students, the Dean of Studies, the Director of Health Services and/or the Director of Psychological Services. 

  4. The reentry committee will review the application and determine whether or not the student will be readmitted. The following factors are normally considered by the committee : the circumstances of the student’s departure, an assessment of the student’s readiness to be proactively and consistently responsible for their own health, their ability to lead an independent life on a residential campus, (including personal care and nourishment and other daily living needs), and their readiness to manage the demands of a self-directed education and negotiate a challenging academic schedule. The committee will also consider additional factors with awareness of  individual circumstance. 

  5. The student will be notified in writing about the decision of the committee. Appeals can be made to the Provost and Dean of the College or designee within 10 days of the receipt of the decision letter. 

  6. Decisions of the Provost and Dean of the College or designee are final.

  7. Eligibility for financial aid is separate from reentry. Students returning to Bennington after a period of withdrawal must be in contact with the Financial Aid Office for reinstatement of aid  (finaid@bennington.edu). 

  8. Past due balances must be cleared in order to apply for reentry. Applications for reentry will not be accepted if there is a past-due balance owed.

  9. Once granted reentry, students will receive notification from the Office of the Provost and Dean confirming term standing, academic standing, and anticipated graduation date along with information regarding course registration.

 

Students approved for reentry will be readmitted as full-time students. Once approved, students can be in touch with the Office of the Provost and Dean if they would like to pursue part-time status.

Students who reenter following withdrawal are subject to all regular requirements for new students (financial, health, etc.).

Reentry after Disciplinary Suspension

After Disciplinary Suspension, a student may be return only with the approval of the reentry committee, which includes representatives from the Office of the Provost and Dean of College and other College staff as determined by the Dean of Studies and/or the Dean of Students. In order to be considered for reentry after Disciplinary Suspension, a student is normally expected to have been away from the College for a specific period of time as determined by the disciplinary body. An interview by phone or in person may be required.

The student must submit a detailed written request for reentry to the Office of the Provost and Dean. This document is critical to the reentry process and must be formulated to address the following issues:

  1. The student should address the problems leading to suspension and state how they have overcome these problems.

  2. The student should describe all activities since suspension, with particular emphasis on academic work completed and/or employment undertaken.

 

The student may be required to undergo, at the student’s expense, a drug and alcohol assessment at a licensed treatment center or by a licensed psychologist with expertise in substance abuse, either of which must be approved in advance by the Director of Psychological Services at Bennington College. An evaluative report, including any recommendations for monitoring treatment or other follow-up, must be provided to the Director of Psychological Services prior to reapplication. If treatment is recommended in the report, the treatment provider shall also provide documentation in writing to the Director of Psychological Services of the student’s progress and compliance with the recommendations for follow-up. The student must sign a release form to allow the exchange of information among the treatment evaluators and providers and all necessary College officials.

Students who have been approved for reentry may request transfer credit earned during their suspension.  Transfer credit will be reviewed after they have completed a full term of study at Bennington following their suspension and may  or may not be granted at

 the sole discretion of the College.

Students returning after disciplinary suspension are subject to all regular requirements for new students (financial, health, etc.) Past due balances must be cleared in order to apply for reentry. Applications for reentry will not be accepted if there is a past-due balance owed.

Refund Policies

Students withdrawing after a term has begun may be eligible to receive refunds, if any, only in accordance with the College’s Refund Policy. If the student is receiving federal financial aid, the refund, if any, will be calculated in accordance with federal refund policies, which are detailed in the Financial Aid Handbook.


Please note: Students who are suspended, expelled, or required to withdraw from the College will be responsible for the total College charges for that term.