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College of Education and Human Development - George Mason University

Withdrawal for Non-Academic Reasons

Undergraduate and graduate students may request a withdrawal from their courses for non-academic reasons after the unrestricted withdrawal period. Such requests are only considered under extenuating circumstances. Students must provide verifiable, third-party documentation (dated and on official letterhead) with their request, along with a compelling rationale detailed in their personal narrative, that confirms how their ability to be a successful student was impacted during the timeframe of the affected semester or term. Withdrawals are typically only allowed for all courses within a semester/term; however, if a student is seeking a partial withdrawal, the student must clearly demonstrate why their extenuating circumstance(s) affected the particular course(s) specifically and not all courses taken in the same semester/term. Otherwise, only a full withdrawal from all courses in a semester or term will be considered.

Exceptional circumstances include, but are not limited to:

  1. Medical - Requests for withdrawals due to medical reasons must be supported by relevant, dated medical documentation. The documentation must show a substantial medical change that arose unexpectedly after the drop period ended. Medical documentation could be in the form of hospital records, receipts from doctor’s visits, a letter from your care provider on company letterhead, insurance claim receipts, etc. If you choose to obtain a letter from a doctor or therapist, the letter must include the following:

    • The illness/condition you are being treated for.
    • The period of time you have been receiving treatment for this illness/condition. If the illness/condition began prior to the semester/term you are requesting the withdrawal from, how has the illness/condition changed during the affected semester/term?
    • How this illness/condition impacts you and/or your ability to be a student.
    • The expected length of recovery or return to usual academic performance, and/or the supports, interventions, or measures that are being taken to ensure successful progression towards degree completion at Mason.
  2. Employment - Requests for withdrawals due to work-related reasons are only considered for unanticipated and/or unavoidable changes in employment that occur after the drop date and which result in a direct scheduling conflict with a course (or courses). An increased or more stressful workload is not considered a valid reason to request a withdrawal for employment reasons (see the University Catalog, Section AP.1.2, Academic Load).

    Documentation for this type of request is generally a letter from the student’s employer (dated and on company letterhead) confirming how the student’s job duties have changed since the unrestricted withdrawal period for the requested semester/term, what these new responsibilities include, and how the new job duties are impacting the student’s ability to attend classes or complete required coursework. If the reason is due to military orders or relocation, please provide a copy of the orders as documentation.

  3. Death of a Loved One – Requests for withdrawals due to the death of a loved one may be considered when the student can provide verifiable third-party documentation that they were seriously impacted by the death (such as experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, etc.), and the steps for a medical withdrawal above should be followed. If the student was affected in some other way, they should provide a detailed explanation of how they were impacted in their personal narrative, along with verifiable third-party documentation that supports the rationale for the request.

    A copy of the deceased’s death certificate, obituary, or funeral brochure may also be requested, however, this information alone will not be sufficient for an approval of a withdrawal.

  4. Other Extenuating Circumstances – Withdrawal requests for other types of extenuating circumstances may be considered. The student should describe the issue, and provide any third-party documentation that would corroborate the reason for the request.

Questions regarding documentation should be directed to the CEHD Office of Student and Academic Affairs at

Withdrawal is Not Allowed:

  • To avoid an unsatisfactory grade due to academic reasons.
  • To correct enrollment errors on the part of the student (For more information, review "Changing Registration" in the University Catalog). Students are responsible for all courses in which they remain officially enrolled after the drop period has ended.

Instructors do not have the authority to withdraw students from classes.

Requesting a Non-Academic Withdrawal

  1. Review all policies pertaining to non-academic withdrawals.
  2. Complete a Withdrawal Request Form explaining the specific request and reasons. An additional sheet may be necessary for your statement if there is insufficient space on the form.
  3. Gather your supporting documentation. Only written materials and verifiable, third-party documentation will be considered.
  4. Submit your completed form, additional statement page (if needed), and supporting documentation to the CEHD Student and Academic Affairs Office -
  5. Submit your request in a timely manner. Timing is very important when submitting a request to withdraw. Delays in submitting requests increase the academic component of the request and can have an adverse effect on the final decision.
  6. Provide additional requested documentation in a timely manner. After 30 days, all undocumented requests may be automatically denied, and the case will be closed.
  7. Continue attending all classes in which you are officially enrolled and complete the required coursework unless you receive written approval from our office for a withdrawal. If permission is granted, you will need to confirm that there are no holds on your record for the withdrawal to be processed.

If you are granted a withdrawal, it will result in a "W" on your permanent record. These non-academic withdrawals do not count toward an undergraduate student’s selective withdrawal limits.

Effects of Withdrawals on Academic Standing

Approved or selective withdrawal results in a grade of W on the student’s transcript for the withdrawn course(s). While a grade of W does not affect the GPA, undergraduate students should note that withdrawn courses are part of “attempted credit hours,” which serve as the basis for the student’s credit level. In the university’s undergraduate retention system, GPA standards increase according to credit level and withdrawals can result in a change in academic standing to probation or suspension. See the University Catalog, Section AP.5.2.3, Student Retention Categories, for more information.

Effects of Withdrawals on Student Account Balance

Approved or selective withdrawals do not generate a tuition refund beyond the drop deadline. Students are responsible for all tuition and/or fees charged to their account for any courses that have been withdrawn. Students who have purchased tuition insurance through GradGuard may be eligible to submit a claim for reimbursement.