Health Leave of Absence

Cornell recognizes that medical and mental health conditions can interfere with your academic success and personal safety. Taking a Health Leave of Absence (HLOA) provides a break from studies to attend to treatment or management of a health condition. Any Cornell student can request to take a HLOA. The University’s goal is to enable students to address their health needs and return to complete their academic program. 

In some cases, reasonable accommodations may enable you to complete academic coursework and remain on campus rather than taking an HLOA. A physical or mental condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities is considered a disability and may warrant accommodations. A person who has a history of such a condition or who is perceived by others as having such a condition may also be eligible for accommodations. If you are considering a HLOA, we encourage you to consult with us to discuss eligibility for accommodations before requesting an HLOA. 

If you are considering an HLOA, please review the information on this site. The Health Leaves Coordinator ( is also available to answer your questions.

Types of Voluntary Leaves of Absence for Students 

A voluntary leave of absence is a temporary separation from the university, which is requested by a student who intends to return to academic pursuits in a future term. There are two different types of voluntary leave of absence: 

  • Health Leave of Absence (HLOA): A student may request a health leave of absence as an accommodation for a disability and/or for the purpose of treatment, recovery, and management of a health condition.
    • The Health Leaves Coordinator provides case management support and serves as a point of contact throughout the leave and return processes.
    • There is no minimum duration for health leaves. The duration of the HLOA will depend upon the time you need for treatment and/or recovery and the resolution of academic conditions determined by the your college.
    • Most tuition insurance policies will only provide reimbursement if you need to take a Health Leave of Absence for health reasons.
    • International students who take a Health Leave of Absence may be able to remain in the US to seek treatment and maintain their student visa status.
    • Varsity Student-Athletes who need to take a Health Leave of Absence and miss a season of competition may qualify for a 5th year eligibility waiver. (Contact the athletics compliance office regarding your individual circumstances.)
  • Personal Leave of Absence: You may opt to take a leave of absence for personal reasons that are not health related. Personal leaves are managed by your college/school/campus, which may set parameters for the duration of the leave as well as conditions that must be met in order to return.

Learn more about voluntary leaves of absence.