Leave of Absence and Withdrawals

Students must meet with their residential college dean to complete the formal leave of absence process. We encourage students to also review the Time Away website for information and FAQs regarding taking a leave.

When a student on aid takes a leave, the Undergraduate Financial Aid Office is notified after the leave becomes effective. At that time, the student’s financial aid will be adjusted based on the prorated charges on the bill and the number of weeks the student was enrolled. If a student takes a leave effective before the fall semester or between the fall and spring semesters, the aid for the upcoming academic year or semester will be completely removed and the student will not be billed.

Students must submit their completed financial aid application PRIOR to submitting the leave paperwork with their dean to be reviewed for financial aid eligibility for the semester from which they are taking a leave. Aid applications that are received after a leave becomes effective cannot be processed.

Bill Adjustments

  1. Tuition is prorated based on the number of weeks in the semester. The breakdown is outlined in the Undergraduate Announcement.
  2. Housing and Food are adjusted based on the number of weeks that the student was on campus for the semester.
  3. Student Health Plan is prorated by University Health Services based on the number of weeks that the student was enrolled.

Institutional Financial Aid Adjustments

Financial aid will be prorated by the same percentage that the charges were reduced when a student withdraws. If, for example, a student kept 52% of their cost of attendance for the semester, the student will retain 52% of their aid. The amount of federal loan and/or grant a student retains is based on the federal calculation. Please see the Return of Title IV Funds section for additional information.

Please note, if a student didn’t live on campus and/or didn’t have a meal plan, the housing and food components of the Cost of Attendance will be adjusted based on the number of weeks the student was enrolled. We encourage students to speak with their eating club prior to taking a leave to see if/how their dues will be reduced.

If students have borrowed loans at any point while attending Princeton, the loans will enter the grace period while students are on leave. Once the grace period is over, the loans may enter repayment. Please check with your lender regarding payment arrangements or putting the loan in forbearance. Once students are reenrolled, the loans will go back into deferment.

Impact on Federal Financial Aid

U.S. Department of Education regulations dictate that eligibility for federal student aid be recalculated when students withdraw from all courses during a semester, either officially or unofficially. An official withdrawal is when students notify Princeton of their intent to withdraw or take a leave of absence and an official plan is put into place. An unofficial withdrawal is when students stop attending all courses in a semester and do not provide any other form of notification.

If students with federal loans or grants withdraw prior to completing 60% of the semester, federal regulations require Princeton to perform a calculation to determine the amount of federal student aid funds that need to be returned to the U.S. Department of Education. Students that withdraw after completing 60% or more of a semester are considered to have earned 100% of their federal financial aid.

The federal effective date is determined by the date a student begins the withdrawal process laid out by the college for an official withdrawal. The federal effective date for an unofficial withdrawal is the midpoint of the semester, or 50%. The only time the midpoint would not be used is if the college has a method of determining if a student attended beyond the midpoint.

A federal effective date is needed because federal aid is earned each day of the semester until the federal effective date. The total number of days in the semester are the calendar days starting with the first day of classes and ending on the last day of finals. Any breaks of five days or more, weekends included, are subtracted from the total number of days in the term. To determine the percentage of aid students have earned, the office of financial aid divides the days leading up to withdrawal by the number of days in the semester. The remaining aid is considered unearned and must be sent back to the U.S. Department of Education.

Federal student aid must be returned to the U.S. Department of Education in this order:

  • Unsubsidized federal Direct Loan
  • Subsidized federal Direct Loan
  • Federal PLUS Loans
  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • TEACH Grants

The funds must be returned as soon as possible but no later than 45 days after the date of withdrawal. The returning of funds may result in a balance on the accounts of the withdrawn students. Students who choose to withdraw are responsible for any balance on their account after the return of federal aid.

If it is determined that a student earned more aid than was disbursed at the time of withdrawal, the student may be eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement (PWD). PWD grant funds are paid automatically, but students will be contacted via email and have 14 days to respond and accept or decline any loan funds.

Returning from a Leave

When students are preparing to return to Princeton, they should reapply for aid. Please see the Apply for Aid page for specific instructions. Financial aid decisions will be distributed prior to the start of the semester. International students who need visas will receive their decisions prior to their appointments.

Taking a voluntary leave of absence has no bearing on a student’s eligibility to qualify for grant aid. Students who are returning from a disciplinary leave and will be repeating a term in progress they began attending should speak to the Financial Aid Office to get an understanding of how their aid will be impacted for the repeated term. Returning from a disciplinary leave and repeating a term in progress could result in a reduction or loss of Princeton grant eligibility for the repeated term.


If you have any questions, please contact our office.