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Student Affairs and Academic Support

The Petition Process

Step 1: Submit the Online Petition

Students requesting a hardship withdrawal are required to first submit the online petition. After submission, students will be contacted by a representative of the Hardship Withdrawal Committee regarding whether the petition will receive further consideration and/or next steps. Please do not send supporting documentation until you receive this notification.

Types of Hardship Withdrawals:

A full hardship withdrawal is defined as withdrawing from all courses for the semester of concern.

Submit a petition for full withdrawal.

A partial withdrawal is defined as withdrawing from one or more classes, but not all classes. They are granted under exceptional circumstances. Academic difficulty of your selected course(s) will not be considered. Examples of academic difficulty include, but are not limited to: frequency of assignments, class attendance requirements, not meeting deadlines, etc.

To qualify, you must demonstrate how your hardship is affecting only the class(es) you are petitioning. (For example: you took yoga, broke your collarbone mid-semester, and need to withdraw from that one course).

Students are highly encouraged to exhaust the following options before submitting a partial request:

Students cannot change the type of withdrawal they are requesting after petition decisions are made.

Submit a petition for partial withdrawal.


Step 2: Provide Supporting Documentation

For petitions that will be considered, students will be notified and given suggestions for supporting documentation that aligns with the hardship withdrawal criteria and documentation guidelines below. The email will also contain a link to schedule a hardship withdrawal coaching appointment (see step 3 below). If additional information is needed from a student, they will be contacted by a representative from the Office of the Dean of Students. Information requested does not guarantee petition approval.

Students may ask their healthcare providers to submit documentation on their behalf. Healthcare notes must be sent directly from providers. Students are advised to obtain copy of the letters that are sent to the Office of the Dean of Students to ensure the provider met the criteria listed below.

Clinicians should provide a treatment summary letter (NOT an entire medical record), which must include the following:

  1. Signed authorization request from the student. 
  2. Provider's name (if off-campus: state license #)
  3. Diagnosis (including date of original diagnosis and/or time of symptom onset)
  4. Type of service(s) provided
  5. Specific dates of services
  6. Medication (if applicable)
  7. History of Presenting Problem including detailed information regarding symptoms during the semester of concern.
    • Did the issue affect academic performance?
    • Was there an acute exacerbation of symptoms?
    • Was the condition, illness, or injury life-threatening?
    • Was there an impairment in functioning?

On Campus Providers: please consult with your Medical Records department for submission guidelines.

Off Campus Providers: please fax your patient's documentation to 803-576-6775 or email it to withdrawal@sc.edu

It is the student’s responsibility to notify providers of the expectation(s) for both submitting their letter and the petition deadline, as committee members do not reach out to providers. All documentation is subject to verification by the University of South Carolina, including but not limited to class attendance, class participation, or supporting documentation. If false documentation or misrepresented information is submitted, students will be referred for alleged violation of the USC Honor Code and the Hardship Withdrawal request will be denied.

Acceptable Documentation for Withdrawal due to Extenuating Circumstances include:

  • Verification that the student communicated with professors to discuss options before petition.
  • Legal paperwork (e.g. police report, attorney, etc.)
  • Death certificate or obituary notice from newspaper or from funeral home. Ceremony programs
  • Verification letters from appropriate campus partners (e.g. Student Disability Resource Center)
  • Letters from employers, rental agents, or other business/university officials on letterhead

All documentation is subject to verification by the University of South Carolina, including but not limited to class attendance, class participation, or supporting documentation. If false documentation or misrepresented information is submitted, students will be referred for alleged violation of the USC Honor Code and the Hardship Withdrawal request will be denied.

The Office of the Dean of Students is governed by FERPA’s consent and confidentiality practices. FERPA (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of students’ “education records.” Accordingly, any medical records provided by a student to this office in the course of a hardship withdrawal will be treated as education records under FERPA. Similarly, any medical documents provided to the Office of the Dean of Students by your healthcare provider pursuant to a valid HIPAA authorization will be subject to FERPA’s consent and confidentiality practices.

Step 3: Hardship Withdrawal Coaching Appointment

Students will be required to attend one 30 minute “Hardship Withdrawal Coaching” appointment. At this one-on-one appointment you will have the opportunity to develop a plan for whether your petition is accepted or denied. This provides you an opportunity to better prepare yourself for the upcoming semester(s) or develop a plan if you are not returning after your hardship withdrawal. You and your coach will also go over campus resources that you can utilize as part of your success strategy moving forward. Students will be given the link and instructions to schedule an appointment during step 2. Additionally, they can schedule an appointment online through the coaching website. Appointments can be made virtually or in-person. The appointment is required for your petition to be considered by the committee. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please contact Josh Weakland at weaklanj@mailbox.sc.edu or 803-576-6875. Once all documentation is received and the hardship withdrawal coaching appointment is completed, students will be notified by USC email when petitions are ready for committee review and regarding decision deadlines.

Step 4: Receive Petition Decision(s)

Students will receive petition decisions by USC email.

If a hardship withdrawal is approved, W’s will appear as placeholders for the withdrawn courses on the student’s transcript. W’s do not affect a student’s GPA, but students are encouraged to speak with their academic advisor about degree progression before they submit a petition.

Hardship withdrawal staff may communicate with other campus entities about a student's total educational record, as well as consider the student's withdrawal history.

Decisions are within the following categories:

Decision Explanation 
 Meets Criteria  Student's petition was approved. Please allow up to seven days for transcript updates. The Office of the Dean of Students or Hardship Withdrawal Committee will determine the date of withdrawal.
Does Not Meet Criteria

Student's petition was not approved. Decisions are final, and there is no appeal process for petitions. Petitions are denied if they lack appropriate documentation, or if the committee finds the situation does not meet the criteria outlined for granting a Hardship Withdrawal. Some examples would include:

Deadline Issues:

  • Submitted outside of the 2 year deadline
  • The hardship did not (1) arise after the withdraw fail (WF) period and/or (2) prevent the student from dropping the course by the published course drop deadline

Documentation Issues:

  • Documentation of how the course(s) were specifically affected by the situation (for partial HWs) is not provided
  • Acceptable documentation is not provided or did not contain all requested information per the template given to students

Other Issues

  • A Hardship Withdrawal was already granted for the same or similar condition(s)
  • The situation is not considered unforeseeable, acute, or severe as defined by our hardship withdrawal criteria
  • The student failed to comply with medical advice
Insufficient Documentation  A decision could not be made with current petition materials. The student is given a deadline to submit requested additional information. 



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