Graduate leaves of absence and withdrawals

Graduate students are expected to complete your degree program without interruption. The Office of the Dean for Graduate Education has general information on withdrawals and information on medical withdrawals.


If you’re granted a medical withdrawal or required to withdraw for a medical reason by the Dean for Graduate Education, you’re no longer registered for classes and no longer eligible to receive funding from or through MIT, including research assistantships or teaching assistantships. Under most circumstances, external fellowship funding is also suspended. You must contact your fellowship administrator for the applicable policy, since some fellowships pay stipends directly to students.


Once we receive notification from the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education that you were granted a medical withdrawal, we make the necessary adjustments to your student account and financial aid. If you have an outstanding student loan, you need to have an exit interview before leaving or withdrawing. This counseling session will recap your rights and responsibilities, including when repayments begin. Contact your loan counselor to set up an exit interview.

Return to Title IV (Federal Financial Aid)

If a student receiving federal financial aid (except Federal Work-Study) completely withdraws from classes before completing 60% of the term, we are required to determine how much of the financial aid was earned up to the time of withdrawal.  Any federal funds considered as unearned must be returned by MIT and/or the student to the federal government. This situation could result in the student owing aid funds to MIT, the government, or both.

To determine the amount of aid a student earned up to the time of withdrawal, we divide the number of calendar days the student attended classes by the total number of calendar days in the term. Scheduled breaks of more than five days or more are excluded. The percentage derived is then multiplied by the total federal funds that were disbursed (either to the student’s account and/or to the student in the form of a refund) for the term. This calculation determines the amount of aid earned by the student, which he/she may keep (for example, if the student attended 25% of the term, the student would have earned 25% of the aid disbursed). The unearned amount (total aid disbursed less the earned amount) must be returned to the federal government by MIT or the student.

If it has been determined that a student has unofficially withdrawn, we assume 50% of the term was completed unless otherwise documented by the student.

Order of Return of Title IV Funds

Funds that are returned to the Federal government are used to reduce the outstanding balances in individual federal programs. Financial aid returned (by MIT and/or the student or parent) must be allocated in the following order:

  1. Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan
  2. Federal Subsidized Direct Loan
  3. Federal Perkins Loan
  4. Federal Direct PLUS (Parent) Loan
  5. Federal Pell Grant
  6. Federal TEACH Grant
  7. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

Once a student's earned financial aid eligibility is determined, we notify each the student of any loss of eligibility.

Loans disbursed in excess of eligibility are due based on the terms and conditions outlined in the promissory note(s). Most Direct Loan borrowers will be required to enter repayment six months after withdrawal—unless they begin classes on a half-time basis before the end of their six month grace period. Please see the registrar's office for more information.

Institutional Funding

MIT funding is adjusted after deducting the self-help amount and based on the student expense budget. The student expense budget may be modified to reflect any reductions made to the tuition charge as determined by Student Support Services.

It is important to realize that a key component of satisfactory academic progress is course completion. A total withdrawal contributes no completed credits to an academic transcript. Students completing less than a minimum of 67% of all credits attempted at MIT may lose financial aid eligibility.

Graduate study abroad

The level of support for MIT graduate students to study abroad ranges widely, but each year several MIT graduate students win distinguished international grants to study and conduct research abroad in a wide variety of fields.

For information on funding opportunities for graduate students with international study topics, consult the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education or the Center for International Studies.

Graduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for federal student assistance to study abroad if they are receiving academic credit from MIT.

Graduate summer school

You may be eligible for a graduate student summer tuition subsidy under certain circumstances. However, if you’re a candidate for a professional degree, you’ll be charged tuition if you’re registered for the summer. Consult the Summer Session Catalogue for more information on tuition and financial aid for graduate and professional students.