Withdrawing from college is a big decision that shouldn’t be made without first consulting an academic adviser. If you drop all your courses before the term starts and you haven’t accepted any financial aid, the process will be much simpler than withdrawing after school is in session. Carefully follow your school’s withdrawal procedures; failing to do so can be costly and result in F’s on your transcript instead of W’s. Some insurance policies cancel coverage if a student withdraws, so know what's at stake.


Notify School Officials

Speak with an academic adviser about other options before withdrawing. The adviser may recommend support services, such as tutoring or counseling, to help you salvage your grades. You can request an Incomplete grade in your classes if you’re doing well academically but need to withdraw due to competing family obligations, for example. An I grade allows you to finish coursework later. Contact the financial aid office to discuss monetary repercussions. For instance, you may be obligated to immediately repay a portion of the financial aid you received that term.

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Submit Required Paperwork

To officially withdraw, obtain a copy of your school’s withdrawal procedures from the registrar’s office and note deadlines. Schools require submission of a letter asking to withdraw, or completion of a paper or online withdrawal form. You’re more apt to receive a tuition refund if you submit paperwork within the first few days of the semester. The deadline to withdraw varies from school to school. Some schools, such as Mount Hood Community College, allow students to withdraw as late as the last class day before final examinations, but refunds aren't typically given.

Document Extenuating Circumstances

For situations outside your control, such as hospitalization, you may be eligible for a withdrawal retroactive to the first day of the term, which makes you eligible for a refund. At schools such as Arizona State University students can request a medical/compassionate withdrawal if they or a close family member experience extraordinary physical or mental health issues that interfere with schooling. If you’re withdrawing because of a medically related condition, you’ll need to submit documentation from a health care provider verifying the type the illness, onset of the disorder and expected duration.

Settle Your Account

Pay any outstanding charges on your student account, including parking and library fines. Ask to set up a payment plan if you don’t have sufficient funds. Follow through with payments to avoid having your account sent to a collection agency. Return your books and parking permit if you’re interested in a possible refund. Cancel your housing contract and meal plan if you live on campus. Improper checkout fees may be assessed if you don’t follow procedures for properly vacating your dorm room. Leave a forwarding address with the registrar's office.

About the Author

Dr. Mary Dowd is a dean of student whose job includes student conduct, leading the behavioral consultation team, crisis response, retention and the working with the veterans resource center. She enjoys helping parents and students solve problems through advising, teaching and writing online articles that appear on many sites. Dr. Dowd also contributes to scholarly books and journal articles.