Absences & Coursework Adjustments – Dean’s Notification
A Dean’s Notification is provided to instructors when a student (1) has a serious illness, injury, or medical condition or treatment or (2) is involved in a personal matter necessitating supportive measures to restore or preserve access to the University’s educational programs and activities and (3) the situation is not reasonably likely to resolve immediately. An appropriate University official working directly with the student—including, but not limited to, staff from Student Care Coordination (SCC), the University Counseling Center (UCC), the Student Health Center (SHC), Residential Experience, Project Safe, and the Title IX Office—must determine the situation qualifies for a Dean’s Notification. Upon making that determination, the official will notify SCC or the Title IX Office, as appropriate, to coordinate with the student’s academic dean to formally request that instructors provide flexibility with coursework and/or absence policies. Alternatively, a student may directly request a Dean’s Notification from the appropriate academic dean who will apply the same analysis and make a determination. In doing so, the academic dean may consult with SCC. It is the instructor’s prerogative to determine what, if any, adjustments are appropriate.
Dean’s Notifications are not reasonable accommodations as issued by Student Access, nor should they be used in lieu of a leave of absence. Dean’s Notifications generally expire two weeks after notice is sent by the academic dean to instructors. Flexibility for longer than two weeks should be evaluated by the appropriate academic dean in consultation with campus partners to determine if accommodations or a leave of absence is more appropriate. Supportive measures issued by the Title IX Office may be extended beyond the initial two-week period on a case-by-case basis.
Absences & Coursework Adjustments – Minor Illnesses & Routine Appointments
Vanderbilt University expects students to be honest with their instructors about their ability to attend class and/or complete course work and asks instructors to work with students on these issues. Therefore, the primary offices of the Student Care Network (SCC UCC, SHC, and Center for Student Wellbeing (CSW)) do not provide notes for minor illnesses or routine appointments that may lead to missed classes and/or a delay in completion of assignments. Instead, the primary offices provide students with cards documenting visits to their office, which student may use in discussion with their instructors regarding absences and/or missed work to demonstrate that they sought care. The reason for the visit and any details of minor illnesses or routine appointments are not provided on the card to protect the student's privacy. In addition, variability in how minor illnesses affect students prevents the primary offices from predicting when students will miss classes and/or assignments in response to such ailments. Honest communication between students and their instructors can better address these situations.
For more serious illnesses or medical emergencies resulting in absences or missed coursework, refer to the Dean’s Notification section.
Hospitalizations & Medical Emergencies – Notice to University
The University requires students to promptly meet with SCC when a student (1) is discharged after being transported to a hospital for emergency evaluation, (2) is discharged after being admitted (voluntarily or involuntarily) to a hospital for inpatient care, or (3) otherwise experiences a medical emergency in connection with which follow-up treatment or discharge instructions are reasonably needed to support the student in living on campus or participating in an academic program. Failure to meet with the SCC after notice of the required meeting will result in referral to either a Welfare Panel or Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity.
Hospitalizations & Medical Emergencies – Emergency Notification
Vanderbilt may notify a student’s emergency contact or other appropriate parties of an emergency situation when it determines in its discretion that such a notification serves the interests of protecting the health or safety of the student or other individuals.
Emergency notification may be appropriate when, for example, a student is (a) admitted to the hospital, (b) leaves the hospital against medical advice, or (c) leaves the hospital without being evaluated after being referred by the University for threat to self, threat to others, or another comparable medical emergency.
Emergency contact information may be provided and updated in YES.
Types of Leaves
Students who seek to leave the University after the term has begun must request a temporary leave of absence (LOA) through their individual academic dean’s office. The academic dean, in consultation with relevant campus partners, will determine the appropriate category of leave. If medical clearance is required to return, the student will be notified and must follow the MLOA process outlined in this section. Additional specific policies related to withdrawal, leave of absence, and return from leave of absence are defined at the school level and can be found in the course catalog. Leaves may be extended at the discretion of each academic school.
Types of LOA include, but are not limited to:
- Personal: desire to travel, desire to work without academic credit, family challenges or caretaking responsibilities, or to take time off for any other reason except for such reasons that would satisfy the requirements for medical or financial leave as outlined below.
- Medical: a student’s physical or mental health condition(s) that significantly interferes with the student’s academic and personal success or causes them to be unable to function as a student.
- Financial: when financial reasons prevent an individual from remaining a student.
There may be financial impacts of a withdrawal or leave of absence. Each year, the Office of Student Accounts posts the refund and withdrawal schedule to its website. Improper or untimely notification of withdrawal or leave of absence may result in academic and financial penalties.
Students on LOA should continue to notify the University of any changes in address via the Address Change application in YES.
Students on a leave of absence should understand that return from LOA is not guaranteed and is subject to conditions set forth by their individual academic schools as well as University requirements for a return from medical leave, if applicable. A student who fails to return at the completion of an approved LOA, or has failed to comply with the terms of the LOA, may be withdrawn from the University.
Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA)
A medical leave of absence (MLOA) should be taken when a student’s physical or mental health conditions significantly interfere with academic and personal success or causes an individual to be unable to function as a student. An MLOA is intended to provide students the opportunity to fully attend to their health and wellbeing. Student Care Coordination supports undergraduate students, graduate students in the Graduate School, and professional students in the Owen Graduate School of Management, Law School, Peabody College, School of Nursing, School of Engineering, Divinity School, and School of Medicine except for MD candidates navigate the process of taking and returning from an MLOA. The MLOA policy and process can be found on the Student Care Coordination (SCC) website.
During an MLOA:
- Students must demonstrate appropriate engagement with a medical and/or mental health provider(s) unaffiliated with Vanderbilt University until the provider(s) determines that the issue(s) that led to the leave have been adequately addressed and the student can successfully return to the academic environment. Note that Vanderbilt University Medical Center providers will be considered unaffiliated for purposes of this policy but should not be faculty within the School of Medicine who currently have or have had a role in evaluating the student’s academic assessment or promotion. SCC does not typically make specific recommendations of length or frequency of treatment. For a MLOA related to mental health, regular treatment generally consists of more than a few sessions and a student’s provider(s) may have specific recommendations for ongoing treatment to follow while on MLOA.
- Students on MLOA will not be eligible for student services, including the University Counseling Center, the Student Health Center, and the Center for Student Wellbeing.
- Students can utilize services at Student Care Coordination for assistance with establishing care and support off-campus or with telehealth resources.
Insurance coverage while on MLOA:
- Students on the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) who take a leave of absence within the first 31 days of the coverage period, will not be covered under SHIP and the full premium will be refunded, less any claims paid. Students on SHIP who take a medical leave of absence at least 31 days after the start of the SHIP coverage period will remain enrolled in the SHIP plan until the end of the plan year.
- Students enrolled in SHIP the semester immediately preceding a leave may choose to enroll in a one-time extension of coverage for up to one year while on MLOA. Students wishing to extend coverage should complete and submit the Leave of Absence SHIP Enrollment application with a copy of their MLOA letter from their Dean during Open Enrollment to ensure timely enrollment. If you have questions, please reach out to Student Care Coordination (SCC) or SHIP@vanderbilt.edu.
- Students possessing health insurance through another carrier should confirm with their carrier that they will remain covered under their current policy if on a leave of absence and not enrolled in classes. Alternative coverage while on a leave of absence is available via: https://edusure.com/
Returning from a MLOA:
The process to return from a MLOA or a LOA that the University has deemed requires medical clearance for return is managed by Student Care Coordination (SCC). Students must submit all required documentation to SCC by the deadlines posted on the SCC website. Failure to submit all documentation by the established deadline may result in postponement of approval to return for a desired semester. Additionally, all students must meet with SCC for an MLOA Return Meeting before a determination for approval is made. During this meeting, students and their Care Coordinator will review recommendations from their treatment providers, review the Student Success Plan, and ensure support is in place for a successful return to campus.
To determine whether the issue(s) that lead to leave has been addressed sufficiently, the SCC, in consultation with the Academic Dean’s Office and other relevant campus partners will complete an individualized assessment and review all relevant information available, including, but not limited to, documentation from the student’s treatment provider(s) and the student’s understanding of their medical and academic readiness to return.
Students are permitted to register for classes for future terms prior to receiving approval from SCC to return to school. Undergraduate students should also register for and participate in relevant processes for on-campus housing for their intended semester of return. Registration for on-campus housing (undergraduate students only) and classes will be canceled if the necessary documentation is not received by the SCC by the established deadlines or approval is not granted.
If return from MLOA is not approved, students may submit an appeal of the decision in writing within one week of receiving notice of the decision by SCC. The written request must specify one or more grounds outlined below for appeal. General dissatisfaction with the decision of SCC is not considered grounds for an appeal. The written appeal should be submitted in Word or PDF format to email@example.com and consist of no more than 3 double-spaced pages in 12-point font. Any medical documentation provided as part of the appeal is not subject to the page limit.
The grounds for appeal consist of the following considerations:
- No reasonable person conducting an individualized assessment of the available information could have reached such a decision absent bias
- New information not reasonably available at the time the MLOA documentation was submitted, which would reasonably be expected to affect the decision.
- Procedural irregularities sufficient to affect the original decision.
The Vice Provost & Dean of Students or Dean’s designee (Dean of Students) will review the appeal and may consult with other appropriate campus partners. Upon completion of the review, the Dean of Students will issue a decision affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision to postpone return from MLOA. The Dean of Students decision is final, and no other appeals or grievance procedures are available.