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Northwestern University

Taking Time Off from Your Studies

Students in good academic standing in Weinberg College may generally take time off from their studies and return to Northwestern whenever they choose to do so. No special permission for a leave of absence is required. The College has no formal policy concerning the granting of leaves of absence, and you do not have to provide a reason for taking time off.

University notifications

If you are receiving financial aid and you decide to take time off from your studies, then you should inform the Office of Financial Aid; you will discuss with them what you need to do to ensure your aid is available upon your return. If you have signed a housing contract for the time during which you will be away, you should notify the Undergraduate Housing Office. If you have already registered for classes for a quarter when you will not be attending Northwestern, then you should notify the Registrar's Office in writing. 

If you have already registered for classes for a quarter when you will not be attending Northwestern, you will need to cancel your registration. You will need to complete a withdrawal form and have it signed by the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs. Be sure to let your academic advisers know of your decision to leave as well.

Returning to Northwestern

If you take off one or more quarters during the regular academic year (that is, during Fall, Winter, or Spring), then you must apply to return to Northwestern. The Registrar's website provides information on policies and procedures related to Re-Entry for Former Students, including a link to the Former Returning Student (FRET) Application. This form must be signed by the Weinberg Assistant Dean for Academic Standing and then sent to the Registrar's Office in advance of registration for the quarter in which you intend to return. The form can be submitted to Weinberg by emailing it to Otherwise, you may not be eligible to register for classes. Contact the Registrar's Office for information on how to register for your first quarter back.

If you have been away for several quarters and your Northwestern netid has expired, it may take several days to reactivate after the FRET has been submitted. Please plan accordingly.

Your Weinberg College Adviser can help you with the return process, the transition back to Northwestern, and planning your next steps.

Medical Leave of Absence

Sometimes students are away from Northwestern on a medical leave of absence approved by the Dean of Students Office. In this case, both the Dean of Students Office and the Weinberg dean's office are involved in the re-entry process.

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