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Update: Leave of Absence, financial aid, special circumstances

Susie Brubaker-Cole, vice provost for student affairs, and Sarah Church, vice provost for undergraduate education, answer questions from students about the university's winter quarter plans.

Hello students and families,

We are writing today with updates on the Leave of Absence (LoA) deadline, financial aid, and special circumstances housing as a follow up to Saturday’s announcement about the winter quarter. This information is relevant to students who are on campus now, or were planning to be here later this month. But we are sharing this with all of you so everyone knows what is going on.

Saturday’s message 

We are sending a huge thank you to everyone who wrote us after they received Saturday’s message with questions, concerns, and suggestions. We appreciate and need all the feedback. We are especially grateful for ASSU’s continued partnership.

We would like to acknowledge the tremendous disappointment all of you who were planning to live on campus this quarter must be feeling right now. Few things compare to the excitement of going off to college for the first time, or returning to Stanford after being away.

And now, many of you are making tough decisions about your enrollment choices. We encourage you to reach out to our academic advisors and connect with your families and friends as you move through these deliberations.

Recent events in Washington, D.C.

We want to acknowledge that this has been a terribly difficult week. The news out of Washington, D.C., was terrifying for everyone. Please know that we and our staff are here for you, and we will do our best to help, whatever your needs may be.

As you all know, nothing like this has ever happened in our nation’s history. We found this Stanford News story — a conversation with Stanford scholars you may know — incredibly powerful and helpful.

Our enduring appreciation 

It’s clear the challenges presented by the pandemic and the U.S. presidential transition will continue for quite some time. We will need to work together. But we will navigate through this. For now, we are sending our immense gratitude to each and every one of you and your families for your patience as we do our best to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.


Susie & Sarah

Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Sarah Church
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Leave of Absence deadline

The undergraduate Leave of Absence (LoA) deadline to receive a full refund is now extended to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19. We are shifting the deadline to provide students and families with additional time to discuss their winter quarter planning. As we have previously said, we will support any decision you feel is best for you.

You can take a Leave of Absence for winter quarter for any reason, including if you do not want to take remote classes. After Jan. 19, students will be charged prorated tuition based on their days of attendance, through the Term Withdraw Deadline of Feb. 19.  Please see the Tuition Refund Schedule for related information.

As always, your academic advisors invite you to contact them if you need to discuss your enrollment options or academic planning. International students should contact Bechtel International Center before taking an LoA in order to understand the implications on their visa status.

Financial aid

We would like to thank students for sharing their questions. Here are some answers:

  • Will taking a Leave of Absence affect my financial aid package? Students receiving financial aid should contact the Financial Aid Office to understand the impact of an LoA on their financial aid eligibility.   You are not eligible to receive financial aid when you are not enrolled.
  • Is there help for students who need to change travel plans? If you have already purchased flight tickets, contact the airline to cancel the flight and get credit you can use on a future flight. For students on aid, your financial aid package has already assumed a standard amount for travel costs. If you find that your actual expenses are higher than what is shown on your award letter, please submit documentation of your costs to the Financial Aid Office.
  • Is it too late to submit information about costs for renting for the winter quarter? Submit documentation of your living expenses using this form and the Financial Aid Office will make adjustments as soon as possible.
  • Is there help for other expenses I am experiencing because of the university’s change in plans for frosh and sophomores? The Opportunity Fund remains available to help support students with exceptional financial needs.

Special circumstances housing

Again, we would like to thank everyone who sent us questions. Here are some answers:

  • How do I request special circumstances housing? Complete this ServiceNow ticket — including an explanation of your current situation — by 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17.
  • When will I receive a response? You will receive a response by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19 at the latest; we will be responding on a rolling basis.
  • If I have or will move into winter quarter housing as part of the first wave of undergraduates (resident assistants, special circumstances students, new transfer students, international frosh), can I stay? Yes, you can continue to live on-campus. If you have already moved into your winter quarter housing assignment, you may be asked to move into another residence depending on which dorms will remain open for the remainder of the quarter. We are working on these plans right now, and we will share more information as soon as it is available. Moving boxes and supplies will be provided. If you need additional assistance, please contact your Residence Dean.
  • If I am not an international student and was supposed to move into winter quarter housing with the second wave of undergraduates (frosh and sophomores who do not have approved special circumstances), should I request special circumstances housing if I need to live on campus? Yes, you should request special circumstances housing and wait for a decision unless you are an international student or you have already been approved as a student with special circumstances. International students will be able to check in and stay on campus regardless of their check-in date.
  • Will all special circumstances students be assigned to EVGR-A? We currently have more students approved for special circumstances housing than space in EVGR-A. Some students will be assigned to undergraduate dorms with individual sleeping spaces and shared restrooms.


Thank you for your continued patience and feedback. You can reach us here with your general suggestions, comments and concerns about this unique year. We will do our best to follow-up in subsequent messages to the student community.

If you have a personal question, please submit a ServiceNow ticket. For academic planning discussions and related questions, please make an appointment with your academic advisor.