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WCC in early spring
Credit: Tony Rinaldo

If you take a leave of absence or withdraw from Harvard Law School, you may be required to repay a portion of the financial aid that you received. Once our office has been notified by the Registrar’s office of your leave/withdrawal date, your award package will be pro-rated in accordance with both federal and institutional regulations as listed in the Harvard Law School Handbook of Academic Policies for leave of absence and withdrawals.

Leave of Absence Procedures

  • Giving Notice

    If you take a leave of absence or decide to withdraw from HLS, you will need to complete a leave of absence form through the Registrar’s office.  The form will require two to three signatures before you can submit it: Dean of Students signature, Student Financial Services signature and, for international students, The Harvard International Office signature.

    Once the Registrar reviews and approves your leave, our office will be informed that you are taking a leave and the conditions under which you will no longer be enrolled; i.e. graduate study at another school, personal leave, medical leave, etc. We will also be informed of the date you withdrew – usually the last day you attended classes. This information is used to re-calculate your financial aid.

  • Recalculation of Your Financial Aid

    Loan Only Students: If you receive only loan assistance (Direct loans and/or private loans) and do not receive any grant assistance from Harvard Law School, your aid will be adjusted according to federal guidelines or the guidelines of the lender through which you borrowed.

    The federal guidelines require us to adjust your aid based on the number of days you have been enrolled for the semester. If you are enrolled for at least 60% of the semester, you are entitled to all federal funds for your enrollment period. Any student who is enrolled for less than 60% must have their federal aid adjusted according to the “Return to Title IV” calculation.

    Grant Recipients: If you receive grant assistance (as well as federal, HLS and/or private loans) from Harvard Law School, your aid package will be adjusted according to BOTH federal and institutional guidelines. Institutional guidelines state that your tuition is adjusted by the number of months you have been enrolled. Therefore, once we have been informed by the Registrar’s Office of your tuition adjustment, we will adjust your budget, grant and loans using these guidelines.

    Once all adjustments have been made, you will receive a letter from our office informing you of your new aid package and any outstanding balance due or refund created by the recalculation.

  • Tuition Charges

    Students who take a leave during the academic year are charged tuition for the period of enrollment, plus full insurance and health fees for the term in which the leave occurs.

    For example: a student taking a leave in November will be charged tuition through the end of November, plus full Harvard University Health Services and Harvard University Student Health Insurance Plan (if enrolled) fees for the fall term, and the living expense budget will be adjusted to 3/9ths of the full budget based on a nine-month academic year beginning in September. Tuition is charged until the Registrar receives the leave of absence request form. Students who provide written notice of withdrawal by the dates listed below will be charged as follows:


    September 30 1/9 total annual charges
    October 31 2/9 total annual charges
    November 30 3/9 total annual charges
    December 31 4/9 total annual charges
    January 31 5/9 total annual charges
    February 28 6/9 total annual charges
    March 31 7/9 total annual charges
    April 30 8/9 total annual charges
    after April 30 Full Tuition

    Once the student’s account has been adjusted, SFS will prorate any aid package based on enrollment, adjusted tuition, and fee information received from the Registrar’s Office, in accordance with both federal and institutional regulations. Students who take a leave during the academic year may be required to repay a portion of the financial aid award since cash advances/refunds are disbursed at the beginning of each term in anticipation that students will be enrolled for the entire term. Students receive written notice of any outstanding balance that results from a leave of absence and are responsible for payment in full prior to re-enrolling at HLS.

  • Your Student Bill

    It is important for you to review your student account notice once all the adjustments have been made. As always you can view your student account to see these changes.  If the adjustments to your account create a credit that should be refunded to you, we will issue the funds via your direct deposit information as listed on your student account.  If the adjustments create a charge on your account and thus you owe money back to your student account,  you are expected to pay the amount due within 30 days of receiving notice.

  • Health Insurance

    You have the option of purchasing six additional months of health insurance during your leave of absence. This must be arranged directly with Harvard University Health Services within 30 days of your leave date. For further details, visit University Health Services.

  • Loan Exit Counseling

    You may be required to complete loan exit forms when you take a leave or withdraw.  Your Financial Aid Officer will inform you if this is required. If you withdraw you will go into repayment on your loans within six to nine months of your withdrawal date depending on the terms of the loans you have borrowed.  If you take a leave, you may go into repayment on your loans prior to your re-enrollment.

    As a guideline, students who have borrowed through the federal Direct loan and Harvard Law School Loan programs have a six month grace period and will make their first payment in the seventh month after their leave/withdrawal. Most private lenders have a six month grace period as well, however, those with a nine month grace period will require you to make a payment in the tenth month after your leave/withdrawal. Should you re-enroll prior to the end of your grace period you will need to be sure your enrollment information has been updated with ALL of your lenders in order to avoid defaulting due to timing issues. We often encourage students who are making payments continue to make these payments until they receive notice from their lenders that their loan is once again deferred, due to their enrolled status, in order to avoid defaulting.

  • Returning from Leave

    Students who return from leave will need to check with their lenders, before they re-enroll, to see if they qualify for in-school deferment. In general, federal loans will automatically go back into an in-school deferment period via a shared process between the HLS Registrar’s office the National Student Clearinghouse. Some private lenders will require students to continue to make payments while in school as they do not offer a second in-school deferment period, while many other private lender will defer a student’s loan upon re-enrollment using the same model for federal loans. Students should be prepared to continue to make payments on their loans, even during the first couple of months back at school, until each lender notifies them that their in-school deferment has been approved and processed.