Your Guide To Dropping Out Of Penn State

If Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg can do it, you can, too.

Dropping out of Penn State is actually a lot easier than one would expect. In fact, you don’t even need to click a button. But if you have any intention to return to Penn State, there are other options that are a bit more complicated.

Dropping Out

To formally drop out of Penn State, all you need to do is not enroll in (or drop any) classes for the next semester. Once that occurs, you’ll automatically fall out of Penn State’s system after a year. After the one-year mark, you’re no longer affiliated with the university.

Failing Out

Given the sheer fact that Penn State wants your money so darn much, failing out is pretty rare. The technical term for failing out is academic dismissal.

If your GPA is a 2.0, you’ll be issued an academic warning. A hold is placed on your account until you meet with your adviser to discuss an action plan. If you receive a 2.0 GPA on academic warning, you’ll be placed on academic suspension and cannot enroll for two semesters.

If you return from academic suspension and still don’t receive a GPA greater than a 2.0, you’re subject to academic dismissal and can no longer take courses at Penn State. However, after four years, you can seek re-enrollment by requesting academic renewal.

Leave Of Absence

There are certain situations in which you need to leave Penn State temporarily but not for the long term. In that case, fill out a leave of absence form. While every case is situational, this is an option for the birth of a child, a temporary medical issue, or if a family member died a few weeks before the start of the semester.

However, a leave of absence must be done ahead of time and cannot be done in the middle of the semester. The official deadline to submit the form is the Friday before the first day of classes.

Undergraduates are normally not granted a leave of absence greater than one year unless there is a special circumstance, such as military deployment. In that case, email the Office of the University Registrar.

A leave of absence also assumes that you’ll return to Penn State, and you must indicate on the form what semester that will be.


Students can withdraw from Penn State at any point in the semester, up until 5 p.m. on the last day of classes. In that case, fill out a Withdrawal Form. Withdrawing from the university usually constitutes a sudden emergency that cannot wait until the semester is over.

Withdrawal will delay normal degree progress and likely have more severe financial implications in terms of loans, scholarships, or grants. But depending on the circumstance, tuition will likely be adjusted. Withdrawal is essentially dropping all of your current and future semester courses, even after the late-drop deadline. It will result in a “W” symbol recorded as the course grades on your transcript.

Again, this option assumes you’ll return to Penn State at some point. Upon returning to Penn State, students must pay a $20 fee and reapply through a Undergraduate Re-enrollment Form.

Though it’s strongly encouraged to talk to an academic adviser before going forward with any of these options, it is not required. International students, athletes, and minority students, among others, have specific representatives they’re encouraged to talk to, which can be found here.

Every situation is different, so an advising appointment is helpful to make you aware of your options and to help determine the best one given your circumstances.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a washed-up biology grad and former associate editor. Her legacy will live on through stories like “10 Questions With State College Sensation ‘Hot UPS Bae’”. If you’re a STEM girlie, this is your sign to take the leap of faith and learn to write. It’s pretty fun. Colleen misses the hate mail and can be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

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