Leaves of Absence

Students may encounter circumstances that lead them to consider taking time away from their coursework at the College, also known as a leave of absence. These circumstances can be multiple and varied, ranging from concerns about family matters, opportunities for personal and professional development, or the need to spend time addressing a health concern. The College encourages students to make the decision that is best for them, and seeks to support them so that they can return in the best possible state to succeed in their remaining semesters. 


Students who are considering taking a leave of absence are advised to consult with their Allston Burr Resident Dean or Resident Dean of Freshmen. Their Dean can offer support in terms of thinking through the decision, explaining the logistics of the process, and directing students to resources before, during, and after the leave. There are certain circumstances that may require follow-up from the Resident Dean, particularly medical concerns. This follow-up is described in more detail here.

It is important to note that students who decide to take leaves of absence during their time at Harvard are fully expected to return and to graduate from the College. Of the students who have taken leaves of absences, many have found the experience to be a rejuvenating opportunity that is also integral to their continued progress at the College.

For more about leaves of absence, please see here.

Below is a suggested checklist for students who are considering a leave or returning from a leave. 

Cancelling Enrollment

  • Consult with your current Allston Burr Resident Dean or Resident Dean of Freshmen about the process of taking a leave of absence.

Cancelling Housing & Moving Out

  • Fill out a Housing Cancellation Form at https://HARVARD.starrezhousing.com/StarRezPortal. There may be housing cancellations fees depending on the date you submit your housing cancellation form. Please see the OSL web site (http://osl.fas.harvard.edu/fees) for more information.  
  • Send email to your Resident Dean (if you are a freshman) or to your House Administrator (if you are an upperclassman) letting them know you are vacating your room.
  • Return your key to Yard Operations in Weld Hall (if you are a freshman) or to your Building Manager (if you are an upperclassman). Students on leave of absence may keep their HUID card.
  • Store items -- contact collegeboxes.com or other company for instructions, information, and fees. 
  • Quad Bikes can store your bike for a fee. (617)496-5955. Hours: Tues.-Sat., 1-6:30.
  • To ship items home
      • US Postal Service -- 125 Mt Auburn St #1, Cambridge MA, (617) 876-3883
      • UPS Stores Nearest to Quad – 1770 Massachusetts Ave, (617) 661-7171;
      • UPS Store Nearest to River and Yard – 955 Massachusetts Ave, (617) 868-5055
  • Set up mail forwarding at http://www.campusservices.harvard.edu/mail/student-mail-forwarding.
  • Update your address in my.harvard.

Updating Health Insurance and Providers

  • If you are enrolled in the Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP) Student Health Insurance Plan, contact Member Services at 617-495-2008, or mservices@huhs.harvard.edu to discuss options for extending enrollment.
    • Ask parents to check with their health insurance company to see if you can enroll under their policy.
    • Consult healthcare.gov to identify alternative health care coverage in the state in which you will be residing during your time away.
    • You can find more information here
  • If you have other health care insurance:
    • Check with your health insurance providers to see if your coverage will change. 
    • Consult healthcare.gov to identify alternative health care coverage in the state in which you will be residing during your leave of absence.
  • Notify local health care providers to let them know you will be away from campus.

Review Expectations for Return

  • Read carefully letter and guidelines from your Resident Dean of Freshmen or Allston Burr Resident Dean.


Check in with Financial Aid Officer 

  • To find out who your Financial Aid Officer is and to get their email or set up appointment, call: (617) 495-1581. Hours: M-F, 9 to 5.

Check in with Harvard International Office (if not a U.S. citizen)

Arrange Exit Interview (Intercollegiate Athletes)

  • Call (617) 384-8241 or ask your coach to help arrange interview with the Assistant Director of Athletics.