Military Leave of Absence Policy

Under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), institutions are required to readmit an individual who left school or did not accept an offer of admission in order to perform military service.

The following sections explain the eligibility and readmission requirements of this policy.


This policy applies only to U.S. military veterans seeking readmission to the program that they previously attended; it does not apply to individuals seeking admission to a different school at Columbia. Veterans are eligible if they began their leave of absence on or after August 14, 2008.

You are eligible for readmission under this provision if, during your leave, you performed or will perform voluntary or involuntary active duty service in the U.S. armed forces, including active duty for training and National Guard or Reserve service under federal authority, for a period of more than 30 consecutive days, and received a discharge other than dishonorable or bad conduct. In general, the cumulative length of absence and all previous absences for military service (service time only) must not exceed five years.

Requirement of Notice

If you are planning to take a leave for military service, you must give advance written or verbal notice of military service to your Dean of Students, unless such notice is precluded by military necessity. To be readmitted, you must give notice (written or verbal) of your intent to reenroll to your Dean of Students no later than three years after the completion of the period of your service. If you are recovering from a service-related injury or illness, you must notify the school no later than two years after your recovery. 

A student who does not submit a timely notification of intent or provide an attestation within the designated time limits may not be eligible for the benefits outlined herein.

Tuition and Fees

For the first academic year in which the student returns, he or she must be readmitted with the same tuition and fees charges the student was or would have been assessed for the academic year when the student left, unless there are sufficient veterans' educational benefits or institutional aid to pay the increased amount of tuition and fees. For subsequent academic years, the student may be charged the same tuition and fees as other students in the program.

 Readmission Requirements

The school must allow the student to reenroll in the next class or classes in the same program, with the same enrollment status, number of credits, and academic standing as when he or she was last in attendance at Columbia. The student may also request a later date of admission or, if unusual circumstances require it, the institution may admit the student at a later date. If the school determines that the student is not prepared to resume the program where he or she left off, the school must make reasonable efforts at no extra cost to the student to enable the student to resume and complete the program. Such reasonable efforts include, but are not limited to, providing a refresher course and allowing the student to retake a pretest, as long as they do not place an undue hardship on the school. If reasonable efforts are unsuccessful or the school determines that there are no reasonable efforts that the school can take, the school is not required to readmit the student.

If the program to which the student was admitted is no longer offered, the student must be admitted to the program that is most similar, unless the student requests or agrees to admission to a different program.

For more information, please consult your Dean of Student Affairs office.