Writing a College Hardship Withdrawal Letter [with Sample]

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Students may need to withdraw from college for a variety of reasons. Most universities allow students to withdraw if they follow the proper procedures stipulated by that institution.

Hardship is the most common reason for withdrawing, and the student should begin the process by collecting documentation for why they need to leave. 

When they have the documentation, including any forms required by the college, they can write a college withdrawal letter.

It is best to send a withdrawal letter to the university rather than to simply stop attending. This could cause professors to give a failing mark, which would not look good on a resume.

Rare Cases

In rare cases, a partial hardship withdrawal is possible, but the student must be able to prove that the hardship only affects some of their courses. 

The student should contact their Dean of Students or Registrar’s Office to learn the correct procedure for withdrawing. 

The main hardship reasons students need to withdraw from college are:


Personal reasons include family emergencies such as a death in the family or a family member who is critically ill. 

Proof will be required to show that the emergency impacts the student’s ability to attend college. 

This will include notarized forms relating to the emergency and a death certificate or obituary about the death or, in the case of critical illness, a medical business form from the hospital.


Most hardship cases are due to medical reasons. If the student wants to withdraw for medical reasons they need to prove the condition. This requires a letter from the doctor, hospital records or other medical records. 

In the letter from the doctor, he or she needs to state the reasons why the student cannot attend college. 

In some colleges, the doctor’s letter must give a narrative summary of the medical issues. The contact information for the doctor should be included in case the college wants to verify the information.


Financial hardship means that the student lost his or her job or the head of their household who was paying their expenses is facing financial ruin. 

If the student is moving to another state and loses their job for that reason, most colleges will consider that an acceptable reason for withdrawal. 

Documentation will need to be enclosed with the college withdrawal letter that proves the financial hardship such as unemployment forms or a letter from the former employer stating that the student no longer works for their business. 

There needs to be valid reasons for job loss, and the contact information of the employer should be included. 

Military Duty

Voluntarily enlisting in the military is not a legitimate reason for withdrawing from college, but being called to active duty is. A copy of the military orders will need to be sent with the withdrawal letter and forms. 

Most colleges have a few restrictions on hardship withdrawal. If the student has already taken the final exam or turned in the final paper, they may not request a withdrawal. 

There may also be a time limit. In most cases, the limit is within one academic year of the time they want to withdraw.

Here is a sample college withdrawal letter. All the forms and other documents that are enclosed should be copies and not original documents. 

The letter should be sent by certified mail, so the student has proof of the time and date the letter was sent and received. 

This will be important if the college has deadlines or time limits for withdrawal without penalty.

Sample College Hardship Withdrawal Letter

Student’s Name
Student’s Address
City, State, Zip Code
College ID Number if any


Name of University
Name of Registrar
Address of University
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Name of Registrar,

This letter is to inform you that I need to withdraw from the university due to personal hardship. 

On DATE, my father who was paying for my college education died of heart failure. I have enclosed the medical documents and death certificate. 

His death has left my sister and me without means of financial support, so I need to find employment as soon as possible. My sister is still in high school and will graduate in two years.

My father’s life insurance policy was enough to cover the mortgage of our home, but I need to work to pay for food, clothing and other things. My sister and I are the only family members, as my mother died 10 years ago. 

I have enclosed the withdrawal forms required by the university. Since the semester started only two weeks ago, I am within the time limit, according to school policy, to receive a full refund for this semester’s fees. 

If you have any questions or need more information I can be reached at 555-123-4567 or at Name@email.com.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


Student’s Signature
Student’s Name Printed

List of Enclosures

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is a college hardship withdrawal?

Answer: A college hardship withdrawal is when a student withdraws from a college or university due to extenuating circumstances, such as a serious illness or injury, death in the family, or a personal crisis.

2. Are there any specific requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for a college hardship withdrawal?

Answer: Each college or university may have their own specific requirements, but in general, students must provide documentation of the hardship and how it has affected their ability to continue their studies. This documentation may include medical records, death certificates, or letters from a counselor or other professional.

3. Are there any penalties for taking a college hardship withdrawal?

Answer: It depends on the college or university’s policy, but some institutions may not allow students to receive financial aid or may require that they take additional classes or pay back a portion of their financial aid. Additionally, taking a hardship withdrawal may prolong the time it takes for a student to graduate.

4. Will taking a college hardship withdrawal affect a student’s academic standing?

Answer: It depends on the college or university’s policy, but in general, taking a hardship withdrawal may affect a student’s academic standing, GPA and could also be considered as academic dismissal.

5. How can a student apply for a college hardship withdrawal?

Answer: A student should contact the Office of Student Affairs or the Dean of Students at their college or university to inquire about the process for applying for a hardship withdrawal. 

They may need to fill out a formal request and provide documentation of their hardship. It’s always better to consult with the institution’s financial aid office, academic advisor or the registrar’s office for guidance.