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Home > Relay Documents Hub > Student Handbook > Enrollment > Leave of Absence for Compelling Personal Circumstances
Leave of Absence for Compelling Personal Circumstances
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Relay will work with students who are actively enrolled in Relay (i.e., attending classes) should they require leaves of absence from Relay due to compelling personal circumstances. For the purposes of this policy, compelling personal circumstances are defined as follows:

  • Medical conditions; 
  • Pregnancy;
  • Disability, serious illness, or death of students’ family members should completing a term become unreasonably difficult or impossible as a result;
  • Unforeseeable circumstances such as a natural disaster, strike, relocation of a spouse, or nonrenewal or closing of a project/program; 
  • Military-service obligations; and
  • Mitigating external circumstances (please read on to note a difference in AmeriCorps service awards)

Students are encouraged to discuss and document plans for a leave of absence with their advisor and Student Financial Services as soon as possible, as taking a leave of absence can have implications on educator preparation program completion and certification/licensure, ability to complete program requirements, AmeriCorps membership, and financial obligations to Relay. All general leave of absence processes apply to leaves for compelling personal circumstances. See General Leave of Absence for details.

 

Students who meet these criteria are required to submit official supporting documentation. The documentation must include the date and the reason. If official documentation is unavailable, please email [email protected]
 

Students may not request a general leave of absence between terms if they have a balance over $500. Students may request a general leave of absence during the term to be effective at the end of the term even if they have a balance above $500. 
 

A leave of absence is valid for up to one year (three consecutive terms). Please refer to the Reenrolling or Transferring Programs policy for details on when to apply to return from a leave of absence. For students enrolled in an educator preparation program, a leave of absence and/or withdrawal may result in immediate suspension or revocation of a teaching certificate/license in most states. Additional details can be found in the appropriate EPP Handbook, and students may sign up for office hours here

 

Students who take a leave of absence for compelling personal circumstances may not be required to pay for repeated coursework if adequate documentation is provided to Relay prior to their leave. 
 

Please note: Students may not be exempt from student loan repayments under this policy. Relay encourages students to contact their loan providers to understand the implications associated with taking a leave. 
 

If students have concerns about attendance and/or coursework policy as it relates to their leave of absence for compelling personal circumstances, students should contact [email protected]. For complaints of medical-condition or pregnancy-related discrimination, please see Student Grievance Policy

 

The sections below provide details on specific documentation requirements for leaves of absence for compelling personal circumstances. 
 

Medical or Maternity Leave of Absence

Relay permits students with medical conditions, including mental health, and/or pregnant students and students who have given birth within six months to take a leave of absence. Students who wish to request a medical or maternity leave of absence or who wish to request accommodations must submit medical documentation with their leave of absence application to demonstrate that temporary leaves or accommodations are medically necessary (e.g., doctor’s note on letterhead or proof that their short-term disability claim was approved). If you are unable to provide medical, mental health, or maternity documentation, please email [email protected]
 

Military Service Leave of Absence

Students whose military obligations make it difficult or impossible to complete their coursework are encouraged to take a military service leave of absence. Students who wish to request a temporary military service leave of absence must submit official documentation with their leave of absence application to demonstrate that temporary leaves or accommodations are necessary (e.g., copy of military orders). For the purposes of this policy, military service is defined as (a) deployment, (b) mobilization leading to deployment, or (c) attendance at a military school or college.
 

Additional Compelling Personal Circumstances Leave of Absence

Students facing the following compelling personal circumstances are able to take a temporary leave of absence from Relay:

  • Disability, serious illness, or death of students’ family members, should completing a term become unreasonably difficult or impossible as a result; and
  • Unforeseeable circumstances such as a natural disaster, strike, relocation of a spouse, or nonrenewal or closing of a project/program. 

Compelling Personal Circumstances Leave of Absence Caused by External Mitigating Circumstances

Students experiencing mitigating external circumstances, including but not limited to domestic violence, food insecurity, and students having trouble with accessing housing, may also take a leave of absence for compelling personal circumstances. 
 

AmeriCorps recipients, please be advised that you may not be eligible to earn a partial AmeriCorps Segal Education Award depending on your circumstance. Please reach out to the AmeriCorps team at [email protected] to better understand your AmeriCorps implications. 
 

If you believe your circumstance is not listed but should be considered, please reach out to your advisor and/or consider reaching out to the ombudsman to help you navigate. The Relay Student Ombudsman Service provides a safe space for students to confidentially discuss institutional and academic concerns, clarification of policies, and other challenges that impact academic progress. To get in touch with the Ombudsman, please complete the Ombudsman Service request form.
 

Students who wish to request a compelling personal circumstances leave of absence must submit official documentation with their leave of absence application to demonstrate that temporary leaves or accommodations are necessary (e.g., copy of death certificate, documentation of damage from natural disaster). 
 

Procedure

To initiate a request for a leave of absence for personal compelling circumstances, students should first talk with their advisor to determine if a leave is the right next step for them. The advisor will work with the student to determine how and when to take the leave of absence. Students must discuss the implications of a leave of absence with their school leaders, applicable partner programs (such as Teach For America or New York City Teaching Fellows), and Student Financial Services. There may be significant professional, academic, financial, and when appropriate, certification/licensure-related consequences to suspending enrollment in a Relay program. For details, see Financial Obligations upon Changes to Enrollment. Once students have confirmed that a leave of absence is the right decision, they must formally submit a leave of absence application to Relay.

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