Student Withdrawal from the University Policy

From time to time circumstances may arise that make students unable to continue their enrollment as an ISU student for the remainder of the current term. If the timing of this occurs on the first day of the term or any point prior to finals week, students must initiate the withdrawal process in order to formally discontinue their enrollment from the university. This is a collaborative process that requires student responsibility, student affairs and academic affairs partnership, and central coordination.

Policy Statement

Undergraduate, graduate and professional students seeking to withdraw from Iowa State University as defined by this policy must comply with the processes established by the Office of the Registrar. Withdrawal from the university is categorized in four classifications, each with distinct processes and documentation requirements. These include: Standard Withdrawal, Medical Withdrawal, University Initiated Withdrawal, and Out of Term Withdrawal. Further, additional guidelines for returning to the university may apply for students who repeatedly request withdrawal to ensure appropriate support services are in place to facilitate student success. The applicable procedures and processes for each withdrawal classification are maintained by the Office of the Registrar. See http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/students/withdrawal.

Cancellation of course registration prior to the first day of the term (“Course Cancellation” or “Withdrawal from Admission”) is not within the purview of this policy.

Withdrawal Procedures

Introduction

Students begin the withdrawal process in their college, typically with their academic adviser/major professor or student services office, where the Request for Withdrawal Form is completed. This form is then processed by the Office of the Registrar, with the student’s semester courses withdrawn based on the effective date on the form. Tuition and fees are adjusted, if appropriate, according to established policies approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. See http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/fees/tuition-adj.

When students contact their academic college to initiate withdrawal, they should expect to discuss their situation with the appropriate college official. The purpose of this conversation is to consider options based on consequences of the withdrawal. When a late term withdrawal (Period Three) is determined to be the most appropriate option, documentation of extenuating circumstance will be required. Students should not expect to withdraw during final examination week. If the appropriate withdrawal process is not followed, students will remain enrolled in their courses, and the appropriate grades will be assigned at the end of the term.

The following processes have been developed to ensure that withdrawal from the university is easily navigated by both the student and university personnel who may be providing guidance. The responsibility for successfully navigating these responsibilities ultimately lies with the student requesting the withdrawal. Key terms associated with the withdrawal process are defined in these procedures, as are the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders. The withdrawal processes are then outlined in four categories: Standard Withdrawal, Medical Withdrawal, University Initiated Withdrawal, and Out of Term Withdrawal. Each withdrawal category has unique considerations that impact student success which must be balanced with the university’s administrative responsibilities. These processes provide consistency and also maintain an appropriately rigorous academic environment.

Standard Withdrawal

Standard Withdrawal is defined as dropping all classes for the current term after the semester/session has begun. Students who are considering withdrawal from the university should immediately consult their academic adviser to discuss reasons for the withdrawal and alternatives. The withdrawal procedures established by the Office of the Registrar must be followed otherwise course instructors will assign grades or marks they consider appropriate. Since these grades may be F’s, students are advised that failure to follow the prescribed withdrawal procedures may adversely affect their academic record.

Standard withdrawals occur in three periods during the typical 16 week fall and spring terms.

  • Period One – First 5 days of fall or spring semester, week 1.
  • Period Two – Weeks 2 – 10.
  • Period Three – Weeks 11 – 15. Period Three withdrawals are granted only for extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control that impact the ability to remain enrolled and complete academic responsibilities. (Examples include, but are not limited to, personal trauma, family emergencies, legal difficulties, etc.) Period Three withdrawals require a petition to the college of the student’s primary major requesting permission to withdraw. The college will require appropriate documentation to support the extenuating circumstances prompting the withdrawal request. Undergraduate students on probation who withdraw during Period Three will be subject to academic dismissal at the end of the term.


Finals Week - Students should not expect to withdraw during Finals Week. When a situation beyond a student's control precludes completion of final examinations requests should be made to course instructors for Incompletes rather than withdrawal during Finals Week.

The specific dates for the three withdrawal periods are adjusted on a prorated basis for non-standard term lengths, including summer sessions. All withdrawal dates are included on the University Academic Calendar. See http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/calendar for detailed information and specific dates by term.

When a student initiates a withdrawal from the university prior to the end of Period Two (the 10th week of classes during a standard 16 week semester) at a minimum the following steps are required:

  • Contact/meet with the primary academic adviser to discuss withdrawal.

  • Complete a Request for Withdrawal Form.

  • International Students must also meet with an adviser in the International Students and Scholars Office prior to submitting the Request for Withdrawal form to the college office.

  • Submit completed Request for Withdrawal form signed by the student and the adviser to the college student services office for student’s primary major.

If the withdrawal request is approved the student is eligible to return to the university for a future term with the same academic status that the student held at the beginning of the withdrawal term.

Late-term Withdrawal (Period Three) due to Extenuating Circumstance

When a student requests withdrawal from the university during Period Three (weeks 11 – 15 during a standard 16 week semester) the student must provide documentation establishing an “extenuating circumstance” that prevents the student from fulfilling their academic responsibilities. An extenuating circumstance is a situation that is beyond the control of the student. It may have developed after the end of the 10th week, or it may have become more serious since the 10th week. Poor academic performance alone is not an extenuating circumstance. To request a late-term withdrawal the following steps are required:

  • Contact/meet with the primary academic adviser to discuss withdrawal, as well as other possible options.

  • Complete a Request for Withdrawal Form.

  • Write a petition explaining the extenuating circumstance and asking permission to withdraw. Appropriate documentation of the extenuating circumstance must be provided in addition to the student’s statement.

  • International Students must also meet with an adviser in the International Students and Scholars Office prior to submitting the Request for Withdrawal form to the college office.

  • Submit the petition, documentation, and the completed Request for Withdrawal Form signed by student and adviser to the college student services office.

  • Requests must be submitted prior to the beginning of the final exam period each term.

The college will determine whether to approve or deny the request for late term withdrawal. Appeals may be made to the college student services office.

Undergraduate students on academic probation who are granted withdrawal during Period Three will be subject to academic dismissal at the end of the term. Appeals may be made to the college Academic Standards Committee.

Additional Considerations for Standard Withdrawal

Before withdrawing from the university, a student should carefully consider all the potential effects of such a withdrawal. Considerations should include, but are not limited to:

  • The student is withdrawn from all courses based on the withdrawal date on the form, and tuition and fees are adjusted, if appropriate, according to established policies approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. See http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/fees/tuition-adj. Questions about tuition assessments should be directed to the Office of the Registrar.

  • Students utilizing Financial Aid who withdraw should consult with the Office of Student Financial Aid before completing the withdrawal process to discuss the impact that withdrawal will have on the student’s financial aid obligations. Federal regulations and university policy may require the repayment of a portion of the financial aid funds the student received.
  • Graduate students’ tuition, assistantship and fellowship support may be impacted by a withdrawal.

  • Students who receive Veterans Benefits, may be required to repay all or a portion of the tuition benefits they received for the term.

  • Students living in on-campus housing or who have a campus meal plan, may be responsible for prorated housing and dining charges based on the date of their withdrawal.

  • Students who withdraw are also responsible for charges assessed for any products and services associated with their enrollment, such as text books, health insurance, athletic tickets, etc. Students should consult with Accounts Receivable to determine the amount owed to the university at the time of withdrawal.

  • International students who withdraw should consult with the International Students and Scholars Office before completing the withdrawal process. A withdrawal may affect an international student’s immigration/visa status.

  • Students who develop a pattern of withdrawing (for example, a student submitting a Period Three withdrawal request for two consecutive semesters, or withdrawing repeatedly each Spring semester) may have a Dean of Students Office Hold (R) placed on their record by the college at the time of withdrawal. To initiate this process, the College Official completing the Request for Withdrawal Form should request the DSO place the Hold by sending a summary e-mail to studentassistance@iastate.edu. The staff in Student Assistance will contact the student to offer guidance at the time of withdrawal, and facilitate the student’s successful return to the university. This is part of the university’s commitment to the student’s academic success. Working with the Dean of Office is designed to guide students to more sustainable and productive academic and personal success strategies, and reduce the likelihood of a continued pattern of academic difficulty.

Medical Withdrawal

Under certain situations where a student’s health or well-being prevents continued enrollment the student may initiate medical withdrawal procedures. Students may indicate a medical rationale when completing the Request for Withdrawal form.

Students may voluntarily initiate a medical withdrawal during any standard withdrawal period: Period One, Period Two, or Period Three. Undergraduate students on academic probation who are granted medical withdrawal during Period Three will be subject to academic dismissal at the end of the term. Graduate and professional students seeking a medical leave of absence should contact the Graduate College or College of Veterinary Medicine student services office as appropriate for guidance.

A Medical Withdrawal requires the following additional guidance for those administering the withdrawal request, and the student’s consequent return to Iowa State University.

  1. Medical Hold - Students who indicate a medical rationale when completing the Request for Withdrawal Form will have a Medical Hold (M) placed on their future registration by the Registrar at the time of withdrawal. The Registrar’s Office sends daily notification of all withdrawals to necessary offices (examples include, but are not limited to, Dean of Students, Department of Residence, and Office of Student Financial Aid). When the Dean of Students Office is notified a medical withdrawal has been processed, staff in Student Assistance will contact the student to offer guidance at the time of withdrawal, and facilitate the student’s successful return to the university. A Medical Hold may also be put in place when students disclose a medical rationale for withdrawal at any stage of the withdrawal process, including tuition and fee appeals.

  2. Return from student initiated Medical Withdrawal - When the student initiates Medical Withdrawal from the university, requests to return will initially be reviewed by Student Assistance in the Dean of Students Office to clear the Medical Hold. Students will need to provide the following information to Student Assistance staff to clear the Medical Hold:

  • Description of what medical conditions prompted the withdrawal and what treatment(s) occurred while away from Iowa State.

  • Documentation from a licensed medical provider indicating the following.

  1. The student is ready to resume the rigors and stress associated with the higher education environment;

  2. The student possesses the fitness and capacity to succeed in the anticipated degree program;

  3. Explanation of accommodations, conditions, or continuity of care plans (if any) that are recommended upon return to the campus environment.

    (Guidance for students and providers, including a sample letter, is available on the Registrar’s website: http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/students/withdrawal.)

  • To provide ample time for consideration, this process should be initiated by the student at least 30 calendar days prior to the start of the term students wish to re-enroll.

Student Assistance staff will review the documentation provided and determine if additional documentation or further review is required. A decision to clear the Medical Hold will be made based on the information provided by the student and their treating professionals.

If no further documentation or review is required, the Medical Hold will be lifted and the student will be referred to the appropriate academic College Official. (Students wishing to change majors upon return will be referred to their current college to start the major change process.) Notification when Medical Holds are released will be sent by the Dean of Students Office to the appropriate College Officials.

If further review of the student’s medical situation is needed, the student may be required to attend a re-entry meeting with the Medical Consultation Committee.

3.  Retention of Confidential Student Records - medical documentation provided at the time of  withdrawal will be considered a part of the student’s education record and forwarded to Student Assistance in the Dean of Students Office. Any medical records submitted when students request to return will also be retained by Student Assistance.

University Initiated Withdrawal (UIW)

When a student’s behavior is a deemed to pose a substantial risk to the health and safety of the university community the Dean of Students may initiate withdrawal on behalf of the university. Substantial risk is defined as the high probability of harm or threats of harm to the health, safety, well-being, and/or property rights of others, and not just a slightly increased, speculative, or remote risk of such harm.

The university may order the involuntary withdrawal of a student if it is determined that the student is suffering from a medical condition that meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • poses or threatens to pose a credible substantial risk of harm to the health, safety, or well-being of others;

  • poses or threatens to pose a credible substantial risk of harm to the property rights of others;

  • substantially disrupts the educational or other activities of the university community; or

  • renders the student unable to engage in basic required activities necessary to obtain an education.

When a student exhibits behavior that causes this level of concern the matter may be brought to the attention of the staff in Student Assistance and/or Student Conduct in the Dean of Students Office.

Any person may report any concerning student behavior that poses or threatens to pose a risk to the health and safety of the university community to the staff in either the Office of Student Assistance or the Office of Student Conduct. The Office of Student Assistance may also receive information through the Student Assistance Follow-up and Evaluation Team (SAFE-T). The Office of Student Conduct may also receive information on such students from reports of student disciplinary violations under the ISU Student Disciplinary Regulations. Once a report is received the administrator must investigate as appropriate to the circumstance, document the information found, and make reasonable efforts to discuss the behavior with the student involved. In consultation with the Dean of Students, the administrator responsible for the matter must determine whether the behavior poses an imminent and substantial risk that requires interim actions such as an Interim Medical Suspension, or Interim Restrictions.

Interim Actions

  1. Interim Medical Suspension Order - The Student Conduct Administrator or the Student Assistance Administrator may order interim medical suspension of a student where there appears to be an imminent substantial risk to the safety and health to the university community by providing the student a Notice of Interim Medical Suspension. When the student is suspended, the Dean of Students will schedule a review of the interim suspension order before the Medical Consultation Committee within two (2) class days.

  2. Interim Restrictions Order - The Student Conduct Administrator or the Student Assistance Administrator may allow a student to continue participating in classes but restrict a student’s access to university housing, other services, and/or campus activities by providing the student a Notice of Interim Medical Restrictions. When the student is restricted, the Dean of Students will schedule a review of the interim restrictions order and assessment referral before the Medical Consultation Committee within two (2) class days.

Review of Interim Order - The student and the Student Conduct or Student Assistance Administrator will have an opportunity to present information to the Dean of Students and/or the Medical Consultation Committee as to whether interim medical suspension or interim restrictions should be continued or modified; and whether a referral for independent medical assessment should be considered. This decision will be communicated in writing by the Dean of Students who chairs the Medical Consultation Committee. The decision to continue interim medical suspension or interim restrictions and refer the student for an independent assessment may be appealed in writing within two (2) class days to the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs.

Independent Medical Assessment

The Medical Consultation Committee may order the student to be referred for an individualized and objective assessment by a licensed treating professional of the university's choosing when there is adequate reason to believe that a basis for University Initiated Withdrawal exists. The Referral Notice must be sent to the student and notify the student of the scheduled assessment. The university will cover the cost of the assessment. If a student fails to complete the assessment, the university may continue interim medical suspension or may restrict access to university housing, other services, and/or campus activities until the assessment is completed and reviewed by the university. This assessment must be an individualized, objective evaluation based on current medical knowledge. In certain cases, existing independent medical records may be utilized in lieu of an independent assessment.

University Initiated Withdrawal Hearing

A University Initiated Withdrawal hearing will be scheduled before the Medical Consultation Committee (MCC) to evaluate the results of the medical assessment and/or other documentation provided by the university and the student to determine whether the University Initiated Withdrawal is warranted.

The student shall have at least two (2) class days to review the independent assessment and other documentation prior to the hearing. The withdrawal hearing should be set in an expedited manner that allows for all participants to present complete documentation regarding the issues involved.

The student and the administrators of the Office of Student Conduct or the Student Assistance will present rationale challenging or supporting University Initiated Withdrawal. The student may be assisted by any two individuals of his or her choice in any hearing or appeal. The student may also present the opinion of his or her treating professional regarding the student’s capacity to independently succeed in a rigorous higher education environment. Following the University Initiated Withdrawal Hearing, a written decision shall be rendered by the Medical Consultation Committee stating the reasons for its determination. This decision may be appealed in writing within two (2) class days to the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs.

When the university initiates and subsequently determines it is necessary to withdraw a student, notification will be sent by the Dean of Students Office to the appropriate College Official, and a Medical Hold (M) will be placed on the student’s registration. The student may not reenter the university without providing appropriate documentation that the medical condition prompting the university initiated withdrawal no longer exists, or is sufficiently under treatment so as to remove any substantial likelihood of recurrence of the condition which caused the university initiated withdrawal. The university may require the student, at the student's cost, to undergo a medical evaluation by a licensed treating professional as a prerequisite to initiating the re-entry process.

Re-entry following University Initiated Withdrawal

A student who has been medically withdrawn under the University Initiated Withdrawal (UIW) process and desires to resume enrollment at the university must apply for re-entry following the standard admissions process, if applicable. Prior to registration for courses, the student will also be required to meet with the Medical Consultation Committee to clear the Medical Hold. The student will begin this process by providing current documentation from a licensed treating professional that indicates the medical condition that caused the university initiated medical withdrawal no longer exists or is sufficiently under treatment so as to remove any substantial likelihood of reoccurrence of the condition. The Medical Consultation Committee will review this documentation to determine if the student may return to the university. Prior to any reentry decision, the university may also require the student to undergo an independent assessment by a licensed treating professional or physician of the university's choosing to confirm the documentation provided by the student and assess fitness for success. This independent assessment will be at the expense of the university and will occur prior to a re-entry meeting before the Medical Consultation Committee.

Re-entry Meeting

When an independent assessment is required to return to the university, the student shall have two (2) class days to review the independent assessment and other documentation prior to the re-entry meeting with the Medical Consultation Committee.

A Medical Re-entry Meeting will occur between the student and the Medical Consultation Committee. The student may be assisted by any two individuals of his or her choice in any meeting or appeal. The student may always present the opinion of his or her own physician or therapist regarding their capacity to independently succeed in a rigorous higher education environment.

Following the Re-entry Meeting, a written decision shall be rendered by the Medical Consultation Committee stating the reasons for its determination.

Effect on Pending Student Conduct Charges

The UIW process is independent of and does not preclude the use of the university’s disciplinary system to address behaviors that may also violate the Student Disciplinary Regulations (Code of Conduct). A medical withdrawal is not considered a disciplinary action, though a prior medical withdrawal may be considered in subsequent conduct hearings involving the student.

If a student has been charged with violation of the ISU Student Disciplinary Regulations, but it appears that medical reasons exist for the objectionable behavior, the UIW process may be activated prior to issuance of a determination in the conduct process. If the student is medically withdrawn from the university, such action suspends the pending disciplinary action. If the student is found not to be subject to University Initiated Withdrawal under this policy, conduct proceedings may be reinstated. A university initiated withdrawal is not considered a disciplinary action, though a prior university initiated withdrawal may be considered in subsequent conduct hearings involving the student.

Appeals

Any decision of the Medical Consultation Committee may be appealed, in writing and on the record, to the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs. An appeal, stating the reasons why the decision is not supported by substantial evidence or is contrary to law, must be filed within two (2) class days of the decision at the Office of the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs. The Senior Vice President for Student Affairs shall notify the Dean of Students of the appeal and the Medical Consultation Committee shall have five (5) class days from the receipt of the student’s appeal to review the appeal statement and respond in writing to the Senior Vice President of Student Affairs. The Senior Vice President for Student Affairs shall determine whether to uphold the decision within ten (10) class days of receiving the supplemental statement from the Medical Consultation Committee. This outcome shall be the final decision of the university on the matter.

Tuition and Fees Adjustments for University Initiated Withdrawals

Students may appeal a tuition and fees assessment following a University Initiated Withdrawal following the standard tuition and feel appeals process. Exceptions may be made for instances beyond the control of the student.

Out of Term Withdrawal

Out of Term Withdrawal is a request to withdraw from a prior term due to extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the student. Specifically the extenuating circumstance must have prevented the student from initiating a standard withdrawal during the applicable term(s). The student must provide appropriate documentation of significant extenuating circumstances when requesting an Out of Term Withdrawal. Out of Term withdrawals are only permissible within two years from the end of the term from which the withdrawal is requested; for example, if you are requesting to withdraw from the spring semester 2015, you must submit a request to withdraw prior to the end of spring semester 2017.

Requests for Out of Term Withdrawals are held to a higher standard, given these requests alter an established academic record and could have significant impact on financial aid eligibility, academic status, and capacity for future success. As such, special consideration and coordination is required beyond the college level.

The Out of Term Withdrawal Committee (OTWC) is a centralized university committee charged with authorizing a student’s petition to withdraw from a prior term. The Out of Term Withdrawal Committee is comprised of representatives from the College Student Services Directors, Office of Student Financial Aid, the Dean of Students Office; Thielen Student Health Center, Accounts Receivable, Student Counseling Services, and the Office of the Registrar.

To initiate an Out of Term Withdrawal, a student must:

  • Contact the Student Services Office of the college of the student’s primary major to discuss the request and explore other possible options.

  • Students who want to proceed with an Out of Term Withdrawal must submit a petition to the Out of Term Withdrawal Committee for consideration. A complete petition consists of four components:

    • A completed and signed Withdrawal Request Form.

    • A written statement explaining the circumstances beyond the student’s control that prevented the student from withdrawing during the applicable term(s).

    • A formal statement from an appropriate third party (for example, Multicultural Liaison Officer, or licensed treating professional) documenting the extenuating circumstances.

    • A written statement from the student’s academic adviser/major professor. The student should request the adviser/major professor submit this statement directly to the Out of Term Withdrawal Committee by e-mail: otwc@iastate.edu.

  • Complete petitions will be reviewed at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the committee. Students requesting Out of Term Withdrawal should allow at least 60 calendar days for a decision related to any withdrawal petition.

The Out of Term Withdrawal Committee will determine whether to approve or deny the request, and determine appropriate academic record and/or financial adjustments. Any potential subsequent changes to a student’s academic standing will be determined by the college Academic Standards Committee for the student’s primary major.

The decision of the Out of Term Withdrawal Committee will be communicated in writing to the student, and the appropriate College Official(s) within 60 calendar days. If an Out of Term withdrawal is approved, the student’s record will be updated to reflect the committee’s decision.

Appeal

Any decision of the Out of Term Withdrawal Committee may be appealed, in writing and on the record, to the Associate Provost for Academic Programs. An appeal, stating the reasons why the decision is not supported by substantial evidence or is contrary to law, must be filed within five (5) class days of the committee’s decision with the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost. The Associate Provost for Academic Programs shall notify the Office of the Registrar of the appeal and the Out of Term Withdrawal Committee shall have five (5) class days from the receipt of the student’s appeal to review the appeal statement and respond in writing to the Associate Provost for Academic Programs. The Associate Provost for Academic Programs shall determine whether to uphold, reverse, or amend the decision within ten (10) class days of receiving the supplemental statement from the Out of Term Withdrawal Committee. This outcome shall be the final decision of the university on the matter.