Leave of Absence Policy

While it is generally expected that Scholars will make reasonable progress through their degree programs and finish in four years, we recognize that there are circumstances that may necessitate a Scholar taking a semester or more off from their studies. Therefore, it is possible for Scholars to request a leave of absence from the program and/or to withdraw from the semester.

Types of Leaves

We recognize three different types of leaves:

Planned Leave: When a Scholar recognizes the need for time off in advance in order to pursue a legitimate education-related opportunity. and schedules accordingly. Examples might include a non-credit granting internship or volunteer opportunity or the chance to work on a political campaign.

Emergency Leave: When a Scholar has life circumstances that require them to withdraw from the semester with little to no notice. Examples might include a serious illness or death in the family.

Academic/Distress Leave: When a Scholar, for whatever reason, is performing extremely poorly in their coursework or is unable to continue with their coursework and needs to withdraw and regroup. This type of leave is not recommended and can usually be avoided by communication early on with faculty and the Donaghey Scholars Honors Program Director. Taking this type of leave immediately puts the Scholar on academic warning and their funding may not be renewed.

Financial Aid Impacts of a Leave

When considering a leave, it is important for Scholars to know how their financial aid could be impacted and this will vary based on the type of financial aid in question and when the Scholar decides to take the leave.

Donaghey Scholars Honors Program Funding: The Donaghey Scholars Honors Program guarantees eight semesters of funding. If the Scholar schedules the leave in advance, their funding for the semester will be put on hold and can be used when they return. So, effectively, no funding is lost. However, if the Scholar withdraws from a semester, they will lose that semester’s funding and be responsible for any tuition charges, fees, housing costs, etc. for any additional semesters required for graduation.

State Aid and Other Private Scholarships: Different scholarships have different continuing eligibility requirements and Scholars are subject to all of these. Upon deciding to take a leave, the Scholar should see a Financial Aid counselor to discuss their specific aid packages and what should be done to be able to renew funding upon their return. For Scholars scheduling leave in advance, a request can be made to hold state and private scholarships until their return. However, for Scholars withdrawing from the semester, it is important to know that they could lose state scholarships for not completing the requisite number of hours.

Requesting a Leave

To request a leave of absence from the Donaghey Scholars Honors Program, the Scholar must write a letter, which can be sent electronically, to the Program Director. The letter should briefly explain the circumstances and include the Scholar’s planned timeline for return. Once the request is approved by the Director, the letter will be placed in the Scholar’s file and can serve as evidence that the student can return in good standing or indicate that the student must be readmitted by the Donaghey Scholars Honors Program Policy Council.

Note that a withdrawal from the semester requires the approval of the Program Director and that to withdraw without permission could result in a loss of funding.

Returning From Leave

When a Scholar is ready to return from leave, the process will somewhat vary based on the type of leave taken.

Planned Leave: The Scholar simply needs to notify the Director in writing of the expected date of return.

Emergency Leave: The Scholar should notify the Director of their planned return and schedule a meeting to discuss their preparedness to return.

Academic/Distress Leave: The Scholar should write a formal letter to the Director and the Donaghey Scholars Honors Program Policy Council requesting to return to the program. This letter should address the issues that led to the leave, action steps taken to rectify the issues, as well as a specific plan to avoid repetition of the problem in future semesters. The Donaghey Scholars Honors Program Policy Council will make the decision whether or not to allow the Scholar to return to the program and to funding. If the Policy Council approves the request to return, the Scholar should schedule a meeting with the Program Director to discuss steps to achieve academic success and avoid past issues, as well as to revise the Scholar’s degree plan and graduation timeline. The Director may request weekly or bi-weekly meetings and mid-term grade reports from faculty during the Scholar’s first semester back to ensure adequate progress.