Students are responsible for knowing the following:

Occidental College (Oxy) students who have a medical or psychological condition that is negatively impacting their academic success may request a Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA). Medical leaves are intended to give students time to focus on their health and wellbeing so that they can return to campus and be successful in their academic and co-curricular pursuits.

We know that the decision to take a Medical Leave of Absence can be challenging and we strive to make the process as straightforward as possible. Our goal is for students to feel that prioritizing one's health and wellbeing is an important and valued choice.

  1. Requesting a Medical Leave of Absence

In order to begin the process, students should meet with a Student Success Advisor in the Dean of Students Office or Disability Services to discuss the MLOA process. Student Success Advisors seek to gain an understanding of the student’s needs, provide information, and answer any questions that arise.   Depending on the circumstance, Student Success Advisors can also connect students to appropriate resources on campus (such as Emmons Wellness Center) to consult on any immediate treatment needs, and to offer support and referral if needed for the student's time away from Oxy. For some students with established care, these consultations may be unnecessary or brief. For other students who may not be sure how best to proceed, these resources can be extremely helpful in thinking about next steps in self-care.

When they have decided the MLOA option is best for them, students may obtain a Leave Withdrawal Form from the Registrar’s Office or from the Student Success Advisor working with them.

  • Request: Students submit the Leave Withdrawal Form to the Dean of Students Office, along with a brief written note from the student’s treating clinician (who may be external or an Emmons Health and Wellness Center counselor), verifying the need for and recommended length of leave.
  • Decision: If the Dean of Students Office approves the MLOA based on the student’s submitted documentation, they will inform the student and submit the approved Leave Withdrawal Form to the Registrar’s Office for processing. Although unlikely, if the Dean of Students Office does not approve a MLOA request, the student may appeal the decision within seven (7) days to the Dean of the College or their designee. Appeals should include the student’s explanation of their circumstances and supporting clinical documentation, as applicable.
  • Notifications: The Registrar’s Office will notify other offices on campus who need to be aware of the student’s leave status (e.g. Residential Life, Financial Aid, etc.). Students will also receive a confirmation email noting their MLOA status and explaining the process to return when the student is ready. With the student’s consent or otherwise consistent with FERPA, a student's parent/guardian will also receive a notification informing them that the student will be on a medical leave. Your Student Success Advisor can also support you in planning for departing campus if you need support in this way.
  • Deadlines:  The deadline for requesting a medical leave once the semester is underway is the last day of classes. An approved medical leave that was requested before the Census date for a given semester will not appear on a student’s transcript; there will simply be no classes recorded for that semester(s). An approved medical leave requested after the start of the semester but before the last day of classes will result in “W” next to each applicable course.
  1. Benefits and Other Considerations During Leave
  • Health Insurance Continuation
  • Financial Aid: Students who have taken a MLOA may request one extra semester of financial aid (beyond what was originally offered when admitted to Occidental) if progress toward completing the degree was impeded by receiving financial aid during a semester in which they received no academic credit. Requests for one extra semester of financial aid will be considered on a case by case basis by the Occidental College Financial Aid Appeals Committee, and are not guaranteed. Requests, supported by medical documentation, can be uploaded to the student’s IDOC portal.
  • International Students: International students enrolled at Oxy with an F-1 visa are advised to consult with an IPO staff member to help prepare for any implications of a Medical Leave of Absence on their immigration status and/or student visa.
  • Tuition, Room, and Board Fees: Students will receive, at baseline, refunds or prorated charges in accordance with the College’s Refunds & Withdrawals Policy. In addition, students who take an approved MLOA before the Mid-Semester date will receive a 100% refund of tuition paid by the student to the College for that semester, not including federal or state funds. If the student has received state and/or federal financial aid, it will be returned according to federal regulations (34 C.F.R. 668.22), and how much aid the student is deemed to have “earned” at that point in the semester. The College encourages students to consult the Financial Aid Office and review the College’s financial aid policies. Students are also encouraged to consult with the Dean of Students Office about what level of refund is available based on the timing of their leave.
  1. Involuntary Medical Leave of Absence

In exceptional and rare circumstances, the Dean of Students may require a student to take a medical leave of absence. This would only occur based on an individualized assessment, in consultation with the College’s CARE team, that the student’s continued enrollment creates significant risk to the student’s or others’ health or safety, or severely disrupts the College’s residential, academic environment. If the College has reasonable, objective basis to find that such a risk or disruption exists, it may require the student to submit documentation from an Emmons or external treating clinician regarding the student’s ability to safely participate in the academic program. The College will first consider whether any reasonable accommodation would adequately reduce that risk or disruption. In exceptional circumstances involving a potential threat to another person’s physical safety, the Occidental College Behavioral Intervention team may concurrently assess the situation and take actions as described in the Threat Assessment Policy. A student may appeal the Dean of Students’ decision regarding an involuntary MLOA in writing to the Dean of the College or their delegate.

  1. Returning from a Medical Leave of Absence

The MLOA clearance process is designed to ensure that students have had sufficient opportunity to address the health concerns that led to leavetaking, and that appropriate support and resources are in place for their return.

The return process also seeks to assure, in consultation with the student and their medical care providers, that the student will be able to participate safely and effectively in the autonomous student environment at Oxy, meet academic and technical standards (with or without reasonable accommodation), and adequately monitor their own health. Please note that the academic program at Occidental College is delivered through in-person instruction and involves on-campus residency requirements, and thus any accommodations must be designed to enable in-person participation. When applying for approval to return from a MLOA all the required materials outlined below should be submitted via email to the Dean of Students Office by the deadlines indicated:

In addition to the basic Returning Student Application, students must also submit three additional documents:

  • A brief Student Letter describing:
    • the factors that led to leavetaking;
    • an overview of the treatment received to address those issues;
    • any activities the student has engaged in while on leave that the student deems relevant;
    • a reflection on the student’s readiness to return; plans for managing the rigors of Oxy upon return (continued treatment, support network, etc.);
  • and any reasonable accommodations the student may need to return successfully.
  • Treatment Provider Letter(s): For leaves which require consultation with Emmons Wellness Center personnel, students must submit a letter from their mental health or other medical treatment provider, as appropriate. Students may submit more than one letter from treatment providers (e.g., a therapist and psychiatrist, or a primary care and specialist health provider).  The treatment provider’s letter should include the following information:
    • The clinician’s credentials and clinical setting;
    • The nature, duration, and frequency of the clinician’s contact with the student;
    • The clinician’s opinion on whether the student will be ready to return to the rigorous academic and social demands of full time, in-person enrollment, and the independent residential experience at the College, by the beginning of the term for which the student is petitioning to return from medical leave.
    • What restrictions or limitations, if any, the student may have upon return, and what reasonable accommodation(s) would enable the student to participate in Oxy’s programs.
    • The basis for the clinician’s opinion on the student’s readiness to return.
  • Release of Information Form: Since the treatment provider letter is maintained as part of your medical record in Emmons Wellness Center, a limited Release of Information Form is required in order for the Oxy clinicians to participate fully in the Medical Leave Clearance Process. Signing the release allows Oxy’s clinicians to share some information included in the Treating Provider Letter with the Medical Leave Clearance Committee. The form can be found in the MLOA section of the Student Support Services website and will also be provided to you as part of reminders about the Medical Leave Clearance process.

All materials should be submitted to the Dean of Students Office via a single email to: Oxy’s Medical Leave Clearance Committee may request additional information, if needed to assess the student’s petition to return. Please note, Student Success Advisors are available to answer questions about the requested materials or any other aspect of the process.

We encourage students to take sufficient time to address the health-related concerns that led to their leavetaking. The length of a medical leave is determined through an interactive process with the student, intended to determine what is needed for them to address medical needs and successfully return. Students who are not approved to return may request to return again at any subsequent review period and/or appeal the denial. Any student whose request to return is denied will receive a detailed written explanation of the College’s decision and reasoning, and may appeal the denial as described below.

Occidental College administers medical leaves in a nondiscriminatory manner. The Medical Leave Clearance Process involves an individualized assessment based on the best available objective medical evidence, and gives significant deference to the student’s and their treating clinician’s opinions regarding readiness. The College will provide reasonable accommodations for students upon return, while maintaining the same fundamental academic and technical standards applicable to all students. Students with disabilities may request reasonable modifications to Oxy’s policies, including the Medical Leave Policy, by contacting

See the deadlines here:

Final deadline to submit your returning student application:
To return in the
To return in the
To return and be guaranteed consideration for Financial  Aid and, if needed, request for an extra semester of aid.To be considered for financial aid for any semester, you must have submitted your FAFSA, your CSS Profile, your Student Supplemental Application and have uploaded your family's income tax documents by March 2nd of the prior academic year  (see Office of Financial Aid website)
May 1st
November 1st
To be fully considered for Disability Services housing accommodations, if applicable 
March 1st
November 1st
To participate in course registration with your Class
February 25th
September 25th
To return and be guaranteed for housing
June 1st 
November 1st
To return and participate in room draw for housing
February 1st
  1. Medical Leave of Absence Clearance Committee - Timeline & Process

In order to carefully consider each petition and the individual situation of each student, the Medical Leave Clearance Committee review process takes approximately four weeks, and the committee follows these basic steps:

  • Week One: Compile all materials, follow up with the student on any missing materials, and distribute letters to Student Success Advisors and Emmons clinicians for review. The Registrar’s Office checks for clearance holds with other offices on campus.
  • Week Two: Student Success Advisors and clinicians from Emmons Wellness Center review their respective letters. These staff may reach out to students and/or clinicians to request additional information that may not be contained in the letters, but which may help to understand the student’s readiness to return. However, any requests for additional information will be narrowly tailored to information that is reasonably needed to resolve individualized and objective questions or concerns regarding the student’s fitness to return to Oxy. The statements of treatment providers will be accorded considerable weight.
  • Week Three: The Medical Leave Clearance Committee meets to review each petition. The Student Success Advisor working with each student presents their petition. Following the meeting, Student Success Advisors may communicate to students with questions that the committee has about their treatment and activities while on leave or plans for care once they have returned. Any information that the Student Success Advisors seek will be narrowly tailored to information that is reasonably needed to resolve individualized and objective questions or concerns regarding the student’s fitness to return to Oxy.
  • Week Four: Any follow up is completed. Decision letters are prepared and distributed.
  1. Medical Leave Clearance Committee Composition & Review Criteria

The committee is composed of the Associate Dean of Students, the Student Success Advisor who has been working with the student, the Director of Disability Services, the Director of Counseling at Emmons Wellness Center, and the Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs. The committee makes an individualized assessment of each student and seeks to determine that the student has met the following clearance criteria:

  • Received appropriate and sufficient treatment to enable their safe and healthy return.
  • Demonstrates readiness to return to full-time academic and residential enrollment (or is eligible for a related reasonable accommodation) This may be shown through the general activities of the student while on leave.
  • Demonstrates the ability to function in the student residential environment, with or without reasonable accommodations to College policies, practices, or procedures.
  • Demonstrates an appropriate plan for managing the rigors of Oxy upon return. The plan may include their academic, residential, and social life balance, their support system (family and friends), continued care from clinicians on- or off-campus, and other activities in which they will engage to care for themselves.

The Medical Leave Clearance Committee will simultaneously coordinate with the Financial Aid Office to initiate a financial review and clearance process.

  1. Clearance Letter & Transition Back to Campus

If the Medical Leave Clearance Committee approves a student’s return for medical purposes, the Registrar’s Office notifies other offices on campus to confirm whether there are any academic, financial, or disciplinary holds or conditions on the student’s return. Taking a Medical Leave of Absence does not exempt a student from participation or accountability in other applicable College processes (e.g. Conduct, Academic Standing, or Civil Rights & Title IX procedures), although a student’s circumstances leading to the Medical Leave of Absence may be considered as a mitigating factor in such processes, as appropriate. If cleared by those offices, students are notified by a letter from the Registrar that they have been cleared to return from leave. The chair of the Medical Leave Clearance Committee will also send a letter to the student that will include recommendations for support resources on campus that may be useful to the student, and any other conditions for re-enrollment, such as completing the College’s non-medical clearance process. A student who is approved by the Medical Leave Clearance Committee will be assigned a Student Success Advisor. The student may be in touch with their Student Success Advisor at any point with questions about the transition back to Oxy. The Student Success Advisor will also reach out to the student shortly after their return to check in.

  1. Appeals

Within seven (7) business days of notification of a denial by the Medical Leave Clearance Committee, the student may appeal in writing the decision of the committee, setting out the reason(s) for the appeal and any supporting materials. Appeals will be submitted to the Dean of Students or their designee. A student may appeal a decision of the committee denying the student's request for readmission based on one or both of the following grounds: (1) there is relevant new information that was not reasonably available at the time the student submitted their materials to apply to return, and that would have affected the outcome of the College’s or committee’s decision, and/or (2) there was a material procedural error by the College or committee that affected the outcome of the College’s or committee’s decision. The Dean of Students or their designee will review the record and any additional information submitted in the appeal and determine whether to uphold or modify the decision of the committee, or to return the matter to the committee with instructions for reconsideration.

Decisions will be communicated to the student within ten (10) business days of the appeal deadline.

Student Success Advisors are available to answer questions about the requested materials or any other aspect of the Request to Return and Appeals processes.


Responsible Officers: Vice President for Student Affairs; Vice President for Academic Affairs

Effective Date: August 30, 2023

Last Revised: February 13, 2024