Thinking of Time Away?

Talk to us! 

If you’re thinking about taking time away, the first step is to set up time to talk to Student Support. We’ll listen to your individual concerns and circumstances, help you think through the things you might want to consider, and offer information and guidance to help you make a decision. 

Our aim is not to advocate for one particular outcome or another, but instead to help you make a decision about what’s best for you. 


Your Student Support point person will also talk with you about other alternatives to time away, to make sure you’re aware of all your options and can make an informed decision about what’s best for you. Examples of alternatives might include formal accommodations, accessing new/different healthcare, academic support, changes to your academic schedule or daily life, or connecting with other on- or off-campus resources. 

Things to Think About 

Every student’s circumstances are different, but many students have questions about the following areas.

When do I have to make a decision to take time away? 

You can take a medical leave between semesters or at any point during an active semester, up to the last day of classes. Personal leaves have a different deadline, and you should talk to your Advising Dean (undergraduates) or academic department (graduate students) about your personal leave options.

Whether you receive reimbursement—and the amount of money you get—depends on when you take your leave (see below), and this may factor into your decision. Typically, the earlier you make a decision, the more options you have available. 

Student Support can help you think through other factors that might influence your personal decision, what information you need to make that decision, and how to get it. 

How long will I be away? 

We know that everyone’s situation is different, so there is no set amount of time that all students must be away from school. We also know that your plans might change while you’re on leave. That’s ok! We’ll work with you as your situation evolves. 
Students who take a medical leave typically take at least one full semester off, especially if their leave starts after the midpoint of a semester (e.g., a student taking a leave in November typically takes the following spring semester off). This allows students time and space to address whatever circumstances prompted their time away, and to set themselves up for success upon their return. Students typically see better personal, academic, and health outcomes when they take at least one full semester off. 

There is no limit to the amount of time a student can be on medical leave. However, academic programs, offerings, and requirements may change during the course of a student’s leave. Graduate students in particular should be aware that projects, faculty, and funding sources may change during their time away, and are not guaranteed upon return. 

There are limits to the amount of time students can be on personal leave, and students on personal leave should work with their Advising Dean (undergraduates) or academic department (graduates) to determine requirements for their individual program. 

Will I get money back if I take time away? 

If you take a leave, you will be reimbursed tuition and fees for the semester in which you take your leave according to the tuition refund schedule. Student Services can help with questions about tuition and reimbursement. 

If you have optional tuition insurance, you may be eligible for reimbursement outside of the tuition refund schedule (usually related to medical leaves). Students who have tuition insurance should contact their insurance provider directly.

What happens to my financial aid if I take a leave? 

Taking a leave can impact your financial aid, which may include grants, work-study, and loans. You should discuss the financial aid impacts of when you take the leave and your time away on leave prior to establishing a leave.

  • Undergraduate Students: Visit the Financial Aid website to make a Calendly appointment with your Financial Aid Counselor.
  • Graduate Students: For loans, visit the Financial Aid website to make a Calendly appointment with your Financial Aid Counselor. For teaching or research assistantships, contact Graduate Student Services, at 617-627-2000 or via email

When you return to Tufts, you may still apply for financial aid. If you take a medical leave during an active semester, you may be able to appeal for an additional semester of aid when you return and near the end of your degree. Your Financial Aid Counselor can help answer questions about this appeal process.

Will I still get my stipend from Tufts while I’m on leave? 

You will not receive any stipends while on leave, so will need to plan accordingly if stipends are typically your main source of income. Student Support can help you think through plans to support yourself while on leave. 

Can I still work at Tufts while I’m on leave? 

Typically, students on leave are not eligible to work at Tufts in positions intended for current students. 

Can I take courses at Tufts while I’m on leave? 

The purpose of a leave is to take time away from coursework at Tufts, and students on leave cannot register for, enroll in, or audit Tufts classes until they complete their return process. If you’d like to keep taking Tufts courses, you might consider making changes to your academic plan instead of taking a leave. Student Support can help you think through alternative options, which may be available through the StAAR Center, the academic calendar, or through working with your Advising Dean (undergraduates) or department (graduate students). 

Can I take courses at another school while I’m on leave?  

Some students do take courses outside of Tufts while on leave, and taking courses can be helpful in preparing to return to academic work. You may be eligible to transfer those courses back to Tufts upon return, provided they meet the Tufts transfer of credit requirements. If you’re interested in taking courses while on leave, work closely with your Advising Dean (undergraduates) or academic department (graduate students) to develop a plan before you enroll in courses at another institution. 

Can I live on campus while I’m away? 

On-campus housing is only available for active Tufts students, so you aren’t able to live on campus while you're on leave from school. If you currently live on campus, you’ll need to move out of your on-campus residence within 48 hours of establishing your leave. 

If you’re worried about getting home, where you might live while you’re away, or how you’ll move out of your on-campus residence, talk to Student Support! We routinely help students figure out a plan for housing during time away from school. 

What about housing when I come back? 

We know that where you live matters to you and helps promote a sense of community and belonging when you return to campus. Part of your work with your Student Support contact will be to determine a plan for where you’ll live when you return to campus. In many cases, students who take a medical leave can participate in the housing lottery and/or keep an existing future housing assignment. 

I’m an international student. What does that mean for taking time away? 

International students need to coordinate time away from Tufts with the International Center. Before establishing a leave, talk with your advisor in the International Center about how time away would impact you. Many international students do decide to take time away from Tufts, and the International Center will work with you to develop a plan if you need time away from school. 

How do I get healthcare while I’m away? 

This is one of the most important considerations while going on leave, especially if your time away is prompted by health concerns. 
While on leave, students are not able to receive care from on-campus health services, including Health Service, Counseling and Mental Health Service (CMHS), and CARE. Instead, you can work with your existing external providers or ask Student Support, Health Service, CMHS, and/or CARE to help you find outside providers. 

What about health insurance? Can I keep my student health insurance plan? 

Most students who take a medical leave and have purchased the student health insurance plan (SHIP) through Tufts are eligible to keep their SHIP for up to a year from the date of their medical leave. Please contact the Health Insurance Coordinator at to confirm your eligibility to continue the SHIP while on leave, and to ask any questions regarding your SHIP. If you use a private insurance carrier, please check with your private insurance carrier regarding your health coverage during your leave of absence. 

The SHIP is in effect from August 20 through August 19 of the following year (12 months). If you choose to keep your SHIP while on leave, you will still need to pay the premium for the upcoming year (it’s often helpful to set a calendar reminder for yourself while you’re on leave). The premium will be prorated and the policy will end one year after the start date of your medical leave.  

For more information about insurance policy options, you can visit the Health Insurance Marketplace, Massachusetts Health Connector, your state Medicaid agency, a short term medical insurance, or your preferred insurance company. 

This feels like a big decision and a lot of information. How can I get some help thinking through this? 

Come talk to us! The Student Support team is here to help you understand your options, think through possibilities, get information from a variety of sources, and ultimately make thoughtful decisions. We also encourage you to talk to your own support networks—families, friends, healthcare providers, mentors, coaches, etc.—about what time away from school could look like and about how those larger communities might support you.