Policy on Issues Related to Withdrawing from Courses

Month/Year Posted: 
October, 2022
Policy Number: 
VPAA 22-09

Applies to:

Faculty, Staff and Students. 


Resolution24-09-10-APCPASSEDAPPROVED.pdf (humboldt.edu)
Resolution on Withdrawal After Census Policy.docx (humboldt.edu)
Revision of Resolution19-08-09-EP 2nd Reading.docx (humboldt.edu)


Purpose of the Policy:

Authority: CSU Grading, Repetition of Courses, Academic Renewal, and Appeals Policy (EO 1037)


Effective Fall Semester 2022

To further clarify when and how students may withdraw from one, some or all classes, this campus policy is intended to serve as an addendum for the systemwide policy on CSU Grading, Repetition of Courses, Academic Renewal, and Appeals (formerly known as Executive Order 1037). Cal Poly Humboldt has provided the following definitions as addendum to the systemwide policy:

1)  defines “serious and compelling” withdrawal,

2)  defines “catastrophic” withdrawal,

3)  defines an internal grade “WC” for these catastrophic withdrawals,

4)  establishes a Grade Point Average (GPA) forgiveness policy for undergraduate students in the first semester they receive Withdrawal Unauthorized (WU) grades at Cal Poly Humboldt, providing students a one-time opportunity to minimize the GPA impact of Unauthorized Withdrawals and giving them the chance to improve their GPA by engaging with university procedures and resources, and learning how to navigate the official withdrawal process for future semesters if needed

Students are responsible for adding or dropping the correct courses on their schedules prior to the Add/Drop Deadline. After the Add/Drop Deadline students are required to follow university withdrawal procedures by filing a request with the Office of the Registrar, whether the student has ever attended classes or not. Requests to withdraw will only be approved with a “serious and compelling” or “catastrophic” reason with supporting documentation. A student is not allowed to withdraw during the last five weeks of instruction or later except in cases where the cause of withdrawal is due to circumstances clearly beyond the student’s control (“catastrophic”) and the assignment of an incomplete grade is not practicable.

Faculty are strongly encouraged to provide students, whenever possible, with graded feedback in every course before the Add/Drop Deadline. Drops and withdrawals often carry serious academic and financial consequences, including delaying time to degree, loss of momentum, impacts on full/part-time status for fees and/or financial aid eligibility, veterans benefits, on-campus housing, athletic eligibility, and visa status for international students. Faculty members are urged to remind students to consult with an advisor as well as the Financial Aid office before withdrawing from a class. Students who receive financial aid funds are urged to consult with Financial Aid prior to withdrawing from the university regarding any required return or repayment of grant or loan assistance received, which may result in a debt owed to the institution and negatively impact eligibility to receive financial aid in future semesters. International students here on an F1 or J1 visa are urged to consult with their immigration advisor prior to any drops or withdrawals regarding the effects these changes may have on their immigration status


Definitions and related policy

I. Add/Drop Deadline: the Monday after the second week of classes of the regular semester at 11:59pm PST. Students are responsible for ensuring the correct courses are on their official class schedules in their Student Center prior to the Add/Drop Deadline.
II. Drops: Students are allowed to disenroll (drop) a course before the add/drop via Student Center. A student who formally drops prior to the Add/Drop Deadline will have only an appropriate date of withdrawal (no coursework) appear on the academic record for that term.

A. Note: the university may disenroll a student from a course administratively, when enrollment in a course is contingent upon attendance (see the Faculty Initiated Drop for Non-Attendance Policy, 27-15/16-APC), satisfying enrollment requisites, related deadlines, etc

III. Official Withdrawal (W): The grading symbol “W” on the transcript indicates the student was permitted to withdraw from the course after the deadline with an approved and documented reason. This grading symbol carries no connotation of quality of student performance and is not used in calculating grade point average. Students who find it necessary to withdraw after enrolling must follow official withdrawal procedures by filing a request with the Office of the Registrar.

A. Withdrawal Limits: Students may withdraw from no more than 18 semester units of coursework at Cal Poly Humboldt.
B. Serious & Compelling Withdrawal:

1.      Timeline: Serious & compelling withdrawals are considered after the Add/Drop Deadline through 11:59 PM PST on Monday of the 11th week of classes.

2.      “Serious and compelling" reasons: these are typically outside a student’s control and generally limited to the following: mental and physical health, loss of care for dependents, inappropriate behavior of someone else in the classroom, and serious reversal in the student's financial situation. The Office of the Registrar will review the student’s request and documentation. If the student provides sufficient documentation, the faculty members teaching the course will be notified that a student has petitioned for a Withdrawal and be given the opportunity to provide feedback to the Registrar’s office if necessary.

C. Catastrophic Withdrawal:

1. Timeline: Catastrophic withdrawals are considered after the Add/Drop Deadline through the end of instruction. This is the only category of withdrawal permitted in the last five weeks of instruction.

2. Catastrophic Reasons: these are typically events clearly beyond a student's control, preventing attendance, and in cases where the assignment of an Incomplete grade is not practicable. Examples include severe medical and/or mental health conditions, being called to military service, consequences of the death of a close family member, or being directly impacted by natural disaster. Verifiable documentation of the event must be provided to the Registrar’s office, who will determine whether or not a Catastrophic Withdrawal is appropriate. If the student provides sufficient documentation to the Registrar’s office, faculty members teaching the course will be notified that a student has petitioned for a Catastrophic Withdrawal and be given the opportunity to provide feedback to the Registrar’s office if necessary. Note: internally, the student’s grade will be recorded as a catastrophic withdrawal, “WC”, as Catastrophic Withdrawals do not count toward the 18-unit limit for Official Withdrawals

3. Withdrawal reasons that are not accepted: while individual circumstances may be considered on their own merit, the following reasons are generally considered within the student’s control and therefore would not considered a serious and compelling reason for withdrawal after the deadline

  • Change of major or minor
  • Not liking the course material, instructional method, or instructor
  • Not doing well in the class, or grade not as high as anticipated
  • Taking too many units or being too busy to do the work
  • Not knowing how or when to drop

IV. Unauthorized Withdrawal (WU):The grading symbol "WU" indicates that an enrolled student did not follow the procedures to officially withdraw from the course and also failed to complete course requirements. It is used when, in the opinion of the instructor, completed assignments or course activities or both were insufficient to make normal evaluation of academic performance possible. For purposes of grade point average and progress point computation this symbol is equivalent to an "F".A. 

A. Petition for Grade Forgiveness of First “WU” Grade(s): In the first semester that an undergraduate student receives one or more “WU” grades at Cal Poly Humboldt, the student may petition the Office of the Registrar to apply grade forgiveness to the “WU” grade. With grade forgiveness, the “WU” grade remains on the student transcript, however the grade(s) are excluded from the GPA calculations.
1. The student may petition the Office of the Registrar at any time prior to degree awarding. After the degree has been awarded, petitions will not be considered.
2. Petitions will only be considered for the first term a student receives one or more “WU” grades at Cal Poly Humboldt. Petitions will not be permitted in subsequent semesters and does not apply to grades received at other institutions.
3. These units will not be considered "repeat units" as specified in systemwide repeat policy (undergraduate students may still repeat up to 16 semester units with grade forgiveness, plus an additional 12 units with grade averaging). 
4. Faculty advisors and professional advisors should inform themselves of the petition for grade forgiveness policy and share that information with advisees, when appropriate.


Expiration Date: does not expire.

History (required) Issued: 04/27/2022

Revised: MM/DD/YYYY

Edited: MM/DD/YYYY

Reviewed: MM/DD/YYYY