Returning After a Leave of Absence

Whether you left Stanford to do some personal exploration, to deal with a family emergency, or to focus on your own health and wellness, Stanford encourages and welcomes your return to undergraduate study.

No matter your situation, your first step is to meet with an Academic Advisor and start planning for your return well ahead of your desired return date.

We recommend starting the return process at least 8 weeks in advance. Starting the return process early will ensure that you have enough time not only to register for classes, but to apply for student housing and financial aid if necessary, which are done through separate processes with their own deadlines.

For a comprehensive review of Stanford's leave and reinstatement policies, you may consult the Stanford Bulletin and Academic Advising's Returning Students website, linked below. Academic Advising also publishes a useful Returning to Stanford booklet that outlines the process and answers many common student questions.

We understand that returning to Stanford can seem complex, so on this page we offer some explanations of the different return scenarios, and a description of the process you may have to go through depending on your circumstances.

Stanford Bulletin information on Leaves and Reinstatement
Academic Advising's Returning Students website
Applying for Student Housing
Financial Aid Deadlines

Return Scenarios

Returning As Planned

If you filed for a voluntary Leave of Absence (LOA) and are returning at the date originally indicated on your LOA form, you do not have to undergo any formal return process in order to register for classes. Stanford is expecting you back and you should be able to sign up for courses as soon as enrollment opens for the quarter you wish to return. However, keep in mind that you must apply for housing through a separate process by the appropriate Student Housing deadline.

Returning Earlier Than Planned

If you filed for a voluntary Leave of Absence (LOA) but want to return to Stanford earlier than the date originally indicated on your LOA form, you'll need to go through a special return process called the Request to Return and Register. This is a process meant to encourage you to reflect on your experiences, your reasons for an early return, and what actions you may have to take in order to thrive in your academics and personal life upon re-entry.

Returning After Being Discontinued

If your Leave of Absence has expired, or you left the university without ever filing for a Leave of Absence, your student status becomes Discontinued. But don't be intimidated! Stanford still welcomes your return, and many Stanford students resume their studies years after their original matriculation. Students who were discontinued will need to go through a special return process called the Request to Return and Register. Given the time that you've been away, this is a process meant to encourage you to reflect on your experiences, think about your academic plans, and consider what resources you may want to seek out to help ease your transition back to the university.

The Request to Return and Register

In general, students submitting a Request to Return and Register must:

  • Meet with an Academic Advisor (either in person or through a phone or video meeting)
  • Contact any relevant partner offices (for example, Student Financial Services) and clear related obligations, including any financial holds
  • Check in with their major (or intended major) department about their remaining requirements
  • Write a personal statement about their past circumstances, current academic plans, and strategies for future success
  • Complete the Request to Return and Register form
  • Submit the completed Request to Return and Register materials to their Academic Advisor or to the Academic Advising front desk in Sweet Hall

The Request to Return and Register is not a readmission process. You do not have to apply to the university all over again! Rather, the Request is structured to help you think through all aspects of your return, including any changes you may have to make or support services you may need to utilize in order to thrive at the university. Your Academic Advisor can help you navigate the necessary steps and offer support both before and after your return to Stanford.

The Request to Return and Register should be started early, at least 8 weeks in advance of the quarter you wish to return. Keep in mind that if your request is approved, you will still need to apply for housing and for financial aid through separate processes, and that these applications have their own deadlines. If you know you will need to apply for housing and financial aid, you may wish to start the Request to Return and Register 3 or 4 months in advance to make sure you have enough time for these for these applications.

Official information on the Request to Return and Register