Undergraduate Education at Penn State Penn State University Penn State University Office of Undergraduate Education Printer friendly version of the Undergraduate Education at Penn State mark.
Topical Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  1. Context

    Active-duty and reserve-component service members are committed to serve our nation with a world-wide deployment responsibility and are subject to changes of assignment/duty location and military activation, all of which can occur with little or no notice.  The dynamic nature of their national service can cause interruptions in their academic progress which in turn jeopardizes their ability to pursue academic programs at Penn State. Our policies and procedures are designed to accommodate these students to the greatest degree possible, avoiding negative academic or financial consequences, and easing their return to academic pursuits once their military obligations are complete.
  2. Applicability

    Only students who are baccalaureate or associate degree candidates may use this process to file for a Military Leave of Absence, a Military Withdrawal or a Military Drop.  These policies and procedures apply to U.S. Armed Forces active-duty service members or activated reserve-component service members (Guard or Reserve), and/or those who are dependent spouses or dependent domestic partners of the active-duty service member or activated reserve-component service member.  They do not apply to civilian contractors, civilians working for the DoD, nor for service to other nations. However, Penn State recognizes the significant demands placed on international students whose studies are interrupted by mandatory military service in their home countries, and this is addressed explicitly in J-2, Leave of Absence. 
  3. Documentation of Military Service Obligation

    A student's military service obligation can include a military permanent change of station (PCS), temporary duty assignment (TDY), reserve-component activation, or deployment.  Students must provide proof of the military obligation by providing:
      1. a copy of military orders, and when applicable,
      2. proof of dependency to the militarily obligated service member (spouse/domestic partner only).
    Documents substantiating military obligation must be provided to the Office of the University Registrar as soon as possible but no later than 5 PM on the last day of classes.
  4. Short-term Absence

    Students who provide verified orders requiring a short-term absence for military service and are unable to make arrangements with instructors [see E-11] for making up missed evaluative events are eligible for administrative cancellation of the course(s) and 100% of the tuition for the course(s) will be refunded to the student. These students should notify the Director of Academic Affairs or Associate Dean of their college or campus who will notify the Office of the University Registrar. For orders requiring absences lasting longer than two weeks, students may pursue a military leave of absence, a military withdrawal, or a military drop.
  5. Military Leave of Absence (MLOA)

    Students who have yet to begin classes when their military service obligation becomes known are eligible to be placed on MLOA status for a period not to exceed five (5) years. 
    1. The MLOA provides the same protections as a standard LOA (see Policy J-2) but is available for a greater time limit.
    2. If students have yet to begin the semester, their schedules are cancelled, and they are placed on MLOA.
    3. If students enroll and do not attend any classes due to military obligation, administrative cancellation can be used to place the student on MLOA.
    4. If there is an MLOA, this is indicated on the student's transcript.
    5. MLOA is not available to students who have begun attending classes for that semester.
    6. If there is an extension of military obligation, students have the option of continuing the MLOA beyond the initial period but not to exceed five (5) years.
    To request an MLOA or request an extension, students should contact the Office of the University Registrar.
  6. Military Withdrawal (MW) and Military Drop (MD)

    Students who have begun classes when their military obligation commences can fully withdraw from all their courses using a Military Withdrawal (MW) or continue with a reduced course load using a Military Drop (MD) for a portion of their courses.  The MD is intended to provide students maximum flexibility to complete courses by maintaining a partial schedule when faculty can adjust course delivery to accommodate distance delivery.  An MD or MW will not be counted toward the Course Repeat Policy (C-7). 
    1. Students who have begun classes and must take a full break from their studies must be withdrawn.  This Military Withdrawal is indicated on the transcript. For the period of their military orders, students' accounts will remain active and re-enrollment will be automatic by sending an email request to the Office of the University Registrar.  Students will re-enroll with their status in the university as degree candidates in their original program requirements.
    2. Students wishing to maintain partial schedules will be advised to work with individual faculty to evaluate the opportunities to complete courses remotely while engaged in military service.
    3. Students may MD a portion of their scheduled courses after consulting their college/academic unit.
    4. All courses that are not completed with an earned grade will be recorded as MD, which indicates the action was due to military obligation on the student's transcript. 
    5. Students who continue in courses retain the option of requesting a deferred grade (DF) following current policy.
    6. Students who decide to continue in a course may use the MD option until 5 PM on the last day of classes.
    7. Students cannot MD for all courses in a semester.  Instead, students who must fully withdrawal are required to utilize the MW process.
    8. Students who complete at least one credit in a semester but do not wish to continue the following semester must apply for a Military LOA.  Otherwise, their student record will be discontinued. 
    9. Students on MLOA or MW may return to their studies remotely while continuing to meet their military obligation by contacting the Office of the University Registrar to re-enroll.  Students should contact the Office of the University Registrar to have their status updated and will need to keep the Office of the University Registrar informed on their plans for subsequent semesters.  
    To request an MW or MD, students should contact the Office of the University Registrar.
  7. Financial Considerations

    Financial policies for Military Leaves of Absence (MLOA), Military Withdrawals (MW), and Military Drops (MD) will ensure that:
    1. Students receive a full tuition refund for those courses that will not be completed due to military obligation.  Tuition will be recalculated to include only continued courses.
    2. If a student has on-campus housing and/or a meal plan, they will be charged a prorated housing assessment to cover expenses already incurred for room and board and the housing balance and unused meal points will be refunded.
    3. Students will maintain their university access account/email at no cost to the student.
    4. Students will be guaranteed the ability to return under original term of enrollment with no reenrollment or other additional fees.
    5. Students will be advised by the Financial Aid Office of actions required to defer loan(s) repayments based on active military duty obligations.

Senate Policy:  56-70, Leave of Absence

Approved: ACUE (1-6-22)