A retroactive university withdrawal (RUWD) may be an option for students who were unable to complete a standard university withdrawal during the semester of their departure from the university. A RUWD can be applicable in several situations, the most common of which is when a student was unable to withdraw from the University due to extraordinary circumstances such as a family or personal medical injury or other personal hardship.

The RUWD is a withdrawal from all courses and is not easily granted. It is not intended to clean up a transcript for Financial Aid or GPA purposes.  Additionally, it is not applicable to students who face academic suspension and did not withdraw before the semester’s deadline.  Such students must go through the suspension appeal process.

If you are a graduate student looking to complete a retroactive university withdrawal (RUWD), please use the Graduate School Retroactive Withdrawal application.

 Retroactive University Withdrawal Procedure

  1. Extenuating circumstance* occurs, prohibiting the student from academic success and/or applying for a withdrawal in a timely manner during the semester in question
  2. Student can apply for a Retroactive University Withdrawal (RUWD) by:
    1. Contacting the Dean of Students’ Office forthe  link to online application
      1. Gradudate students must use the Graduate School RUWD application
    2. Complete the online form and attach necessary documentation and narrative**
    3. Be sure to click ‘submit’ at bottom of form
  3. Initial Review Process
    • The Dean of Students’ Office will contact students via email if a narrative or documentation is missing. An application cannot be submitted to the committee without both a narrative and documentation
  4. Completed RUWD applications are submitted to the RUWD Committee, which decides on approving or denying RUWD applications
    • Student receives decision letter within 4-6 weeks of application to the email student attached to their application. This email may go to spam; look for the subject line of “Correspondence from the Office of the Dean of Students”
  5. Three possible outcomes
    1. Approved with W’s
      • Student will receive W’s for all classes during the applicable semester. Student’s RUWD is put into effect; a temporary hold is placed on the student account to allow for record amendments
    2. Approved without W’s
      • Student receives a clean slate for the applicable semester. This is very rare. Student’s RUWD is put into effect; a temporary hold is placed on the student account to allow for record amendments
    3. Denied
      • No change is made to the students record. Student has the ability to appeal within 5 business days with new information in applicalbe. 

*What is an extenuating circumstance?

Students who leave campus due to extraordinary reasons without applying at the Dean of Students Office for a university withdrawal during the semester of departure or who fail to withdraw through regular channels may apply for retroactive university withdrawal only if they can provide evidence of the following:

  • The student had a physical or mental illness or injury that significantly limited their capacity to withdraw in a timely manner; or
  • The student was forced to leave the University abruptly due to a health, safety, or personal emergency

Retroactive University Withdrawals and COVID-19

The COVID-19 Pandemic has been/is unprecedented, and has challenged our entire society in numerous ways. While the difficulties surrounding COVID-19 are significant, the impacts on a student’s academic experience and subsequent eligibility for a retroactive university withdrawal and reduction of tuition and fees may or may not apply. Extraordinary circumstances that ARE considered in regards to COVID-19 include the following:

  • The student tested positive for COVID-19, which significantly limited their capacity to be academically successful in their classes or to withdraw in a timely manner; or
  • A direct family member of the student was hospitalized due to contracting the COVID-19 virus which significantly limited their capacity to be academically successful in their classes; or
  • A direct family member of the student passed due to complications with the COVID-19 virus

Circumstances that are NOT considered in regards to COVID-19 include the following:

  • The student did not like the chosen modality for their course(s); or
  • The student was not able to keep pace with course load requirements; or
  • The student was in quarantine for a period of time due to potential exposure to the virus. 

**What are the requirements for documentation & narrative?

  • Narrative: A detailed letter explaining the extraordinary circumstances you faced as a student during the semester for which you are seeking a RUWD, including the timeline of those circumstances and how those circumstances prevented you from being successful
  • Documentation: Objective, third-party documentation verifying the extraordinary circumstances you experienced. Letters from parents or other family members will not constitute the required documents. Common forms of documentation include doctor’s notes on letterhead, travel receipts, communications from University officials, employers, or obituaries.

The preceding procedure is also available as a flowchart image.

After determining you may qualify for a RUWD, you will need to provide the following:

  1. A completed RUWD application cover form.  The RUWD application cover form is submitted electronically.  Access to the cover form can be granted by emailing deanofstudents@montana.edu, calling 406-994-2826, or stopping by SUB 174.
    • In this application, you will need to attach your third party documentation and the narrative describing the exteunating circumstances that warrant a RUWD. 

The Office of the Dean of Students can consider a RUWD appeal up to three years after the semester in question. However, we are unable to consider a RUWD appeal after a student has graduated as a transcript becomes closed and is not editable.  Please note that appeals may take several weeks to consider as RUWD requests are investigated.

What do we consider when evaluating a RUWD request?

  • Semester before and after the semester in question.  While this may not always be possible, it is important that there is a clear separation between the performances of semesters that precede and follow the semester for which you are requesting a withdrawal.
  • Could the student have withdrawn within the timeline?  It is the student’s responsibility to understand the options available to them or to approach faculty or staff to inquire about how to remedy a situation.  Claiming that you did not know about a policy is not grounds for a RUWD.
  • Information from faculty and staff.  After receiving a request, we check in with a student’s college. We may also gather information from academic advisors, instructors, residence hall staff, and others to determine last dates of attendance and if any individuals can verify a student’s circumstances.  If a faculty or staff member can attest that you communicated with them, it becomes easier to grant a RUWD.
  • Habitual withdrawing.  A student who is granted a RUWD will most likely not be granted another RUWD for the same reasons.
  • Severity of extraordinary circumstances.  While we do not claim to be medical or counseling professionals, our staff does our best to evaluate how the circumstances you encountered impacted your ability to be successful.

Please understand that when a withdrawal is granted, the most common decision is to provide “W’s” for a semester with no refunds; refunds are difficult to grant and are rarely provided in full.  Should a refund be provided, there may be Financial Aid implications.