Personal Leave of Absence


Under certain circumstances, you may wish to take a personal leave of absence for a non-medical and non-children-related reason. Common reasons students take a personal leave include family situation, financial situation, or a need to re-evaluate your interests and or goals. A leave for medical reasons would be a health leave of absence. A leave related to child dependent care would be handled through the parental accommodation policy.

If you are unsure if you should take health leave of absence or a personal leave of absence, please review Student Disability Services’ summary of voluntary leave types and consult with others. The Health Leaves Coordinator is available to consult ( 

In Depth

How to initiate the process?

After securing approvals from your special committee chair and DGS, complete the online leave of absence form and submit to the Graduate School.

Length of leave?

Up to 12 months with annual renewal possible for a total of four years. A student is not permitted to return from a personal leave after an academic term has begun. The Graduate School may permanently withdraw you if you do not return from your personal leave of absence.

Time to degree?

Time away does not count toward time to degree.

Is financial support maintained during leave?

Original offer of financial support at time of admissions is not guaranteed when you return.

Does health insurance continue during leave?

If you elect to take a personal leave mid-plan year, you may retain your Student Health Plan (SHP) coverage through the end of the plan year. Visit the Student Health Benefits website or contact the Office of Student Health Benefits at for detailed guidance about options for extending coverage.

Access to Cornell facilities and personnel during leave?

A student on a PLOA is not registered with the university and therefore is not eligible for privileges afforded to registered students, including, but not limited to, residing in university housing, accessing university resources, and receiving direct supervision by faculty members. 

What if I am an international student?

If you are an international student and would like to take a personal leave, you should contact the International Services Office and the Graduate Student Services Office for assistance, especially for remaining in compliance with visa requirements and maintaining visa eligibility for re-entering the United States.

Learn More About Personal Leaves of Absence