Student Bereavement Guidelines

These guidelines apply to all students seeking an absence letter for grief related issues.

The Office of the Dean of Students understands that grief impacts every student differently. This is not an attempt to quantify the impact the death of a loved one has on any student or in any way address the nature of the grief process. The purpose of this policy is to provide students the time to attend the bereavement services of family members. In applying the guidelines below, students are strongly encouraged to use their judgment about the time they need and can afford to take given their academic responsibilities and goals. Similarly, students should use their discretion about the need to take more extended time through mechanisms such as late course drops, withdrawal (undergraduates and graduate students) or leave of absence (graduate students).

The Office of the Dean of Students is aware that students will experience other types of loss that are not addressed by this policy. In these instances, we encourage faculty to be sensitive to a student’s grief. And although these absences are not eligible for an absence letter, students may need to make individual choices about taking time away that are consistent with their emotional needs.

Students will be eligible for an absence letter for the period of time outlined below if documentation (e.g., an obituary or funeral program) can be provided. However, the decision about whether bereavement related absences will be excused remains at the discretion of individual instructors.

Length of Bereavement

  • Up to five days of bereavement leave in the event of the death of an immediate family member including: parent, legal guardian, spouse/life partner, child, sibling, or grandparent.
  • Up to three days of bereavement in the event of the death of an uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, or cousin.

Relatives in law and step relatives in the categories above are covered by this policy. Students who need to travel outside of North America may be approved by the Office of the Dean of Students for up to four additional absence days. These days will be approved based upon a documented travel itinerary.

Students should notify their instructors of the death and impending absence prior to leaving campus or shortly thereafter. When an absence letter is required by an instructor, students should bring documentation to the Office of the Dean of Students within two weeks of the last date of absence.

* Providing falsified documents or misleading information is a violation of the Student Code sections listed below.

  • § 1 303 Falsification of Documents
  • § 1-302 Rules of Conduct 
    (g) Providing false or misleading information to a member or agent of the University acting in the performance of his or her duty