Medical Leave of Absence Policy

A Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA) provides time away from campus for students who believe they cannot complete the semester because of a physical or mental health condition that impairs their ability to successfully or safely complete their academic semester at RWU. A MLOA only applies to students who need absence from the university for a full semester and does not apply for short-term medical absences within a semester. Medical leaves are granted for students with medical issues that occur during the course of the semester. In order to obtain permission for a MLOA, the student must request and be granted permission from the Office of Student Life with the coordination of the Director of Student and Family Assistance: 

Debbie Knapman, LICSW, RYT
Center for Student Development
(401) 254-3042

This MLOA protocol applies to both undergraduate and graduate students. (Law students have a separate process and may contact School of Law administrators for more information.) Each leave is individualized based on the needs of the student and is handled on a case-by-case basis. Students who request and are granted a voluntary MLOA during an academic semester may be eligible for a number of benefits, including:

  • Tuition adjustments or refunds
  • Later course withdrawals
  • Resources and referrals for appropriate treatment
  • For international students, depending upon the circumstances, a way to remain in the U.S. while maintaining legal status

Requests and Approval Process

Requests for Medical Leave of Absence

Students must apply for a MLOA no later than December 1 for the fall semester, and May 1 for the spring semester. A MLOA cannot be processed if a student has taken a final exam, or if final coursework has been submitted for any classes in the given semester. A MLOA typically spans the current semester and the following semester (total of two semesters). 

Students requesting a leave before a semester begins (i.e. during the summer or between fall and spring semester) should not apply for a medical leave but, instead, they should apply for a Withdrawal through the Advising and Peer Mentorship Office. Medical leaves are not granted for short-term medical absences during a semester. 

Typically, medical leaves that are approved after midterm examinations will not be eligible for reinstatement until the semester following the first full sixteen-week semester that the student is away from campus. Students are usually not eligible for multiple Medical Leaves of Absence during their academic tenure at RWU: however, requests made following the initial medical leave of absence will be carefully reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

The deadline for reinstatement is typically six weeks prior to the beginning of the semester the student wishes to return to RWU.

MLOA Request Deadlines

Semester of LeaveRequest Deadlines
FallDecember 1st
SpringMay 1st

MLOA Application Process

Students should contact the Director of Student and Family Assistance to determine eligibility and to request a medical leave of absence from the University. To apply, a student must:

STEP 1 –  Complete the Request for Medical Leave of Absence form

STEP 2 – Submit a letter/signed personal statement explaining why you are requesting the leave and how you will spend the time away from RWU to address the issue(s).

STEP 3 – Provide supporting documentation from a licensed health care provider who will be treating the student throughout the duration of the medical leave and whose credentials are appropriate for the condition being treated. The healthcare provider (physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, clinical social worker, licensed counselor) responsible for treatment must provide a recommendation on letterhead supporting the student’s request for leave, as well as their subsequent reinstatement from the medical leave. The student will need to sign a consent form that allows the treating provider to speak with the university official who will review the reinstatement request.


The Director of Student and Family Assistance will notify the student in writing of the decision to approve or deny the request for a medical leave of absence. The approval for MLOA will include treatment expectations during the leave of absence that will be individually tailored to meet each student’s situation. Appropriate university departments will be notified of the student’s change in status.

Once approved for a medical leave, students will be dropped or withdrawn from their courses in accordance with the dates set forth in the Academic Calendar for that term.  

Financial Reimbursement for Medical Leaves

Students with financial aid packages should contact the Financial Aid Office to understand their specific implications of taking a medical leave. Students are also encouraged to look into any possible implications for their health insurance coverage.

The financial reimbursement policy for medical leaves is:

  • Tuition charges – For weeks 1-4, the regular withdrawal schedule is in place (100%, 80%, 60%, and 40%); weeks 5-13 will receive a 20% credit; there will be no credit after week 13. Credits are based on the date of approval for the medical leave.
  • Housing –  Credit will be determined by the approval date of the request for medical leave and made on the same schedule as the tuition credit (see above) as long as the student has completed the move-out of their residence hall room and returned their key to the Department of Residence Life & Housing. Otherwise, housing credit will be based on the date the student officially checks out of the residence hall and returns the key to the Department of Residence Life & Housing. If the student fails to complete this part of the process, they may not be eligible to receive any credit towards the housing charges and may be billed an additional charge for key replacement.   
  • Board – Credits are based on a pro-rated schedule based on the week of approval of the medical leave.
  • Tuition & Board charges are as of the date of approval. *Room charges are based upon official checkout & key return.
  • Students with a financial aid package are encouraged to discuss the potential impact of a medical leave on their financial aid package and their eligibility with the Financial Aid Office.  Students are also encouraged to research all implications concerning their health insurance coverage.
  • Any outstanding balance on a student’s account is deducted from the tuition credit. All student fees are for a full semester/session and are not refundable. Any credits that would result in a refund due to the student, as authorized by the Office of the Bursar, will require approximately two weeks for processing.

Involvement at RWU During a Medical Leave

While on MLOA, a student may not register for classes at Roger Williams University until the student has been reinstated by the Director of Student and Family Assistance and the Student Life hold has been removed. Students on medical leave are strongly encouraged to consult their academic dean’s office and advisor in advance and have an academic plan in place, to allow for course registration once the hold is removed.

Students on MLOA are not allowed to participate in clubs, organizations, athletic activities, campus employment or to use facilities or services that are afforded current students (i.e., health or counseling services, library, recreation center).

Departing University Housing for a Medical Leave

In most cases, students approved for MLOA are required to vacate University housing within 48 hours of the approval of the leave, which includes removal of all belongings from University housing. The student must check out of their room with a staff member of the Department of Residence Life and Housing or otherwise turn in their room key and complete the Express Check-Out Form. Failure to properly check out may result in additional charges.

Reinstatement from a Medical Leave

The Director of Student and Family Assistance and appropriate university office will make a determination regarding reinstatement based on the recommendation provided by the University Counseling Center and/or Health Services and in consultation with the Assistant Vice President and Dean of Student Life. Reinstatement is based on the student's readiness to manage an academic course load and safely and successfully function in the RWU community. The Director will notify the student and other necessary University offices in writing of the determination, and if approved, whether any conditions will apply.

The deadline for reinstatement is typically six weeks prior to the beginning of the semester the student wishes to return to RWU.

MLOA Reinstatement Deadlines

Semester of ReturnReinstatement Deadlines
Fall2nd week of July
Spring2nd week of December

To request reinstatement from a medical leave of absence, a student must demonstrate that they worked with the appropriate health care provider throughout the duration of the leave, and successfully addressed the condition(s) for which they received the medical leave.  When ready to request reinstatement, a student will need to complete the following steps:

STEP 1 – Complete the Request for Reinstatement from Medical Leave form

STEP 2 – Submit a written letter/signed statement of request to reinstate, explaining how the student spent the time away preparing for their return to RWU. The student's letter should include some reflection on the circumstances that led to their reason(s) for their medical leave, how the student addressed those factors, and specific strategies the student will utilize to help mitigate the issues that interfered with their successful academic program.

STEP 3 – Provide a written recommendation on letterhead from the treating health care provider(s). This documentation must include specific notation that the student is ready to resume academic coursework and/or residential status (for those requesting on-campus housing) and recommendations to ensure their continued success. In some cases, the student may be asked to talk with a member of the University community (i.e., counselor, AVP/Dean of Students, Director of Student and Family Assistance) to further confirm their readiness to return to campus.

Please note that the treating health care provider will be contacted by a University health care provider before reinstatement is considered. The treating health care provider recommending the student’s return should be the same provider who had been actively treating the student throughout the duration of their medical leave. Documentation from the health care provider must be signed and on letterhead. RWU reserves the right to request a specific health care provider’s opinion before considering a student’s request for reinstatement. The student will need to sign a consent form that allows the treating provider to speak with the University official who will review the reinstatement request.

All documentation must be sent to the Director of Student and Family Assistance. Documentation may be emailed directly to, or sent via USPS to her attention at:

Roger Williams University
Center for Student Development, office 109
One Old Ferry Road, Bristol, RI 02809

The request will be reviewed and the student will be notified of the decision in writing. The University reserves the right to place restrictions on a student’s reinstatement.  

Students requesting reinstatement from medical leave will only be eligible to register for classes once they are officially approved for reinstatement.  After reinstatement is approved, the student is required to reach out to their academic advisor or academic dean’s office for assistance with registering for classes. Students who would like to live on-campus upon their return from medical leave must request housing by emailing the Department of Residence Life & Housing directly at Students are encouraged to do so as early as possible since campus housing is not guaranteed. Students do not need to wait for approval of their reinstatement to request housing; however, housing will only be assigned after a student is granted reinstatement and is enrolled as a full-time student. Students in need of financial aid must contact the Office of Financial Aid directly.