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FAQ: Medical Leave from MIT

What is medical leave?

Medical leave is a leave of absence from MIT for medical reasons. Medical leave allows students to focus their resources and time on getting better rather than studying. At many other schools, any student who is hospitalized is automatically given a medical leave from school. But at MIT, we assess each individual case to determine what’s best for the student.

When is medical leave recommended?

A medical leave is recommended—or is initiated by a student—when the student's medical condition interferes with their ability to do schoolwork, manage day-to-day functioning, or live safely in the school environment. A medical leave is often recommended when it becomes clear that a student needs more intensive treatment than is possible while registered for classes.

What’s the process for medical leave?

Medical leaves are processed through Student Support Services (for undergraduates) or the Office of Graduate Education (for graduate students) with consultation from the Student Mental Health and Counseling Services or another area at MIT Medical. A few facts:

  • Medical leaves are reevaluated each term.
  • Leaves are usually for a minimum of one full term but may be as long as two terms plus a summer.
  • Often there are specific requirements for the student to fulfill during the leave, such as obtaining medical treatment and taking courses or working. 
How do students return to MIT after medical leave?

For undergraduates, the return process is initiated through Student Support Services. The student is asked to prepare a return application, including a statement about what they have done during the medical leave and why they are now ready to return. In the case of a student applying to return after a mental-health-related leave, either the chief or the associate chief of Student Mental Health and Counseling will assess the student’s medical stability, level of functioning, and readiness to return by interviewing the student and, perhaps, by speaking with clinicians whom the student saw during the leave period. This assessment will be provided to the committee evaluating the return.

At times, Student Support Services will require that a student continue in therapy after returning to MIT. Student Mental Health and Counseling Services has a support group for students who have recently returned from medical leave.

For graduate students, the return process goes through the Office of Graduate Education (OGE) and must be initiated by June 15 for the fall term or November 15 for the spring term. To begin the process, a student on medical leave should provide OGE with:

  1. A letter from their clinician stating that the student is well enough to return to academic and campus life. The letter should include some basic information about the clinician’s basis for the opinion.
  2. A letter from their department supporting the return. The student should make this request through the department’s graduate administrator.

Note: As each person’s situation is unique, students are urged to contact the OGE for specific guidance regarding the content of the required letters. For more information, consult the medical leave section of the OGE website.

I did not choose to remain enrolled in the MIT Student health Insurance Plan (MIT SHIP) while I am on leave. When does my coverage end?

While you are on medical leave from MIT, you will continue to be covered by MIT SHIP until January 31 or August 31—whichever date comes first. 

When does my family coverage end?

If you have family members who are covered MIT SHIP, they will continue to be covered until either January 31 or August 31—whichever date comes first. You cannot extend insurance coverage for family members.

I chose to remain enrolled in the MIT Student Health Insurance Plan (MIT SHIP) while on leave. When does my additional year of coverage begin?

Your additional year of coverage begins February 1 or September 1—whichever date comes first. 

Do I have to pay for continued coverage?

Yes. If you chose to submit this form and extend your MIT Student Health Insurance Plan (MIT SHIP) coverage for one year, you will be responsible for paying all health insurance premiums for that period. You must pay health insurance premiums whether or not you use insurance benefits. These charges are added to your student account, and you are responsible for reviewing your statement on MITPAY and submitting payment to Student Financial Services on time.

When will I receive my first bill?

You will receive an email from the Student Financial Services office to notify you when a new bill is available. Bills are sent out around the 10th of each month. 

When is payment due?

Payment is due the first day of the month after you receive a bill. For example, payment for a bill received July 12 will be due August 1. 

What should I do if I cannot pay the bill by the due date?

If you are unable to pay for any reason, contact Student Financial Services at sfs@mit.edu or 617-258-8600 as soon as you receive your bill to set up a payment plan. 

Who should I contact with questions about my benefits?

Contact the MIT Student Insurance Office at stuplan@med.mit.edu or 617-253-1322.

Can I end my insurance coverage while on medical leave?

Yes, but only at the end of a coverage period unless you have experienced a qualifying event. You must submit your request in writing to stuplan@med.mit.edu

What if I would like to read additional information?

If you would like to learn more information, McLean Hospital's College Mental Health Program has produced a very useful Student Guide to Mental Health Treatment.