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Enrollment Policies

1. Extended academic schedules

 An extended academic schedule entails a student taking additional time to complete his or her required coursework for the MD degree.  Students are required to discuss the topic of extending with one of the Student Affairs Deans, the CCOM Registrar, and Financial Services to assure that he/she has a complete understanding of the financial, academic, and other ramifications of that decision. In addition, when considering an extended academic schedule, it is strongly advised that the student discuss such a schedule with their course directors and staff in the Medical Student Counseling Center.

An extended schedule may be requested by a student or mandated by the College acting on the recommendation of the Student Promotions Committee. Extended schedules are generally undertaken for academic or personal reasons. Extended schedules based on personal circumstances are requested by the student and considered on an individual basis. In the first three semesters, such requests will be considered at any time from acceptance into the College until the published drop date of the course, or courses, in question. Extended schedule requests made by M1 or M2 year students will not be granted after the date in the semester when students may no longer drop a course. M1 and M2 students should check their exam schedules for this important date.  Exceptions to this policy can be made due to extenuating circumstances.

In the clinical years, an extended schedule may be requested at any time by contacting the College’s Registrar to request a schedule change or leave of absence.  Attempts should be made to undertake such a schedule change following the completion of a clerkship and with at least four weeks notice.

Tuition assessment issues should be considered in determining the start date for an extended schedule. Usually students on an extended schedule pay approximately 4.7 years of medical school tuition.  It is recommended that students discuss the decision with staff in OSAC’s Financial Services unit for advice relative to the financial consequences of an extended academic schedule. 

2. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Guidelines

Federal regulations require the Carver College of Medicine and the Office of Student Financial Aid to monitor the academic progress of students receiving federal financial aid.  Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is defined as the successful completion of coursework toward a degree within a reasonable time period (see below). Medical students’ academic progress is monitored by the Financial Services department with information on academic progress shared by the Registrar staff following each Student Promotions Committee meeting in which student performance is reviewed for academic difficulty or behavioral concerns.

Academic Requirements & Review Process

Standards apply to medical students who wish to establish or maintain financial aid eligibility.  Academic progress data provided by Registrar staff is reviewed at the end of each semester to determine student compliance. There are three components to these standards:

  1. Passing all the requisite coursework.
  2. Meeting the minimum semester hour registration requirement to be eligible for federal financial aid (at least 3 semester hours in summer sessions and at least 5 semester hours in fall and spring semesters).
  3. Meeting the Maximum Duration of Eligibility:  Students who are enrolled for more than 150% of the typical length of their degree (see below) become ineligible for federal financial aid consideration when they reach that stated maximum, as determined by the College of Medicine’s Registrar.  Such students may submit a written appeal that will be reviewed by the Financial Services Staff and OSAC Administrative staff.  SAP appeal forms are available in the Financial Services office, 1216 MERF

Dean’s Scholarship Retention Guidelines

Dean’s scholarships are dependent on maintaining satisfactory academic progress.  For this purpose, SAP is defined as not being reviewed by the Promotions Committee more than once.  Students retain the Dean’s scholarship if they encounter academic difficulty and are reviewed by the Student Promotions Committee following one semester.  However, a second failure or review by the Student Promotions Committee for new academic and/or behavioral issues results in the loss of that scholarship.

Duration of Eligibility

Students are eligible for financial aid for a limited number of years. Transfer hours and withdrawal semesters are included in the duration of eligibility. Eligibility for medical students is in accordance with the Federal regulation which allows aid eligibility for 150% of the normal intended degree program (a maximum of 6 years for regular MD students; up to seven years for combined degree students; and up to 10 years for MSTP students (MD/Ph.D. students).

Regaining Eligibility

Students have two options to regain financial aid eligibility:

  1. Earn passing grades and/or enroll in sufficient semester hours to meet the minimum requirements while not receiving financial aid.
  2. Submit a SAP Appeal Form documenting individual circumstances. Appeal forms can be obtained in Financial Services, 1216 MERF.  If an appeal is approved, the student will be provided with specific requirements for satisfying their probationary status and/or a specific length of time that SAP eligibility will be extended.

3. Maximum time for degree completion

Students in the MD program are required to complete all the degree requirements within 6 years of matriculation.  Combined degree students are allowed up to a total of 7 years; MSTP (MD/PhD) students up to a total of 10 years, with no more than 6 years dedicated to the completion of the MD degree requirements.

4. Enrollment and Tuition

The MD program is a full-time, four-year program.   As such, students are required to pay a minimum of 8 semesters of full-time tuition. 

5. Leaves of absence

The Carver College of Medicine understands that some students may benefit from being granted a leave of absence from the College for a specified period of time. A leave of absence must be requested by meeting with one of the Deans for Student Affairs or the College of Medicine Registrar. All leaves must be arranged in advance of the student’s absence. If a student is not in good academic standing (e.g., on probation or in failing status in a course), requests for a leave of absence may be reviewed by the Student Promotions Committee.  If a student is on leave for health reasons, the student must provide notes from their healthcare provider to one of the Deans for Student Affairs or the College of Medicine Registrar indicating the start of the leave, and again when they are ready to return to courses or clerkships. A leave of absence is generally limited to one year.  Students should consider the tuition assessment deadlines when determining the start date for a leave of absence.

Students desiring a leave of absence to pursue another academic program such as a research experience, Pathology externship, or a combined degree program should make an official request for the leave and should consider the tuition assessment deadlines when deciding on the start date for the leave. In some cases, students may be able to maintain their student registration while on leave if the experience meets the registration requirements.

6. Maternity / Paternity Leaves of Absence

A. Parental Leave Overview

The Carver College of Medicine is committed to supporting students who have children during medical school, including those who grow their family through adoption or surrogate birth.   Parental leaves of absence are accommodated in accordance with the collegiate leave of absence policy, and a leave of absence must be requested by meeting with one of the Deans for Student Affairs or the College of Medicine Registrar.   

All leaves must be arranged in advance of the student’s absence. A leave of absence is generally limited to one year.  A leave of absence is not a withdrawal from the MD program, it simply denotes that a student is not completing coursework toward the degree during the specified leave time period. Medical complications related to pregnancy will be categorized as a health leave, and require a healthcare provider’s note.  Pre and Postnatal healthcare appointments are permitted like any other medical appointment, and appropriate time-off requests should be filed online to arrange for those absences.

B. Parental Leave Timelines

Taking parental leave is possible during the MD program, and doing so is fully supported by the Carver College of Medicine.  Leave time can vary depending on a variety of factors and should be arranged on an individual basis in consultation with one of the Deans for Student Affairs or the College of Medicine Registrar.  Taking a leave for an entire semester or longer will affect access to financial aid during that specific time, but it does not lead to a loss of future aid.  Students should visit with OSAC financial services to plan out any effects that enrollment changes may have on financial aid. 

During the pre-clinical phase of the MD curriculum, it may be possible to maintain the current graduation timeline, but this will depend on the timing and duration of the parental leave. Due to the more complex nature of the curriculum during the pre-clinical phase, specific guidelines for leave time cannot be provided.  As such, students should discuss their anticipated timeline and the potential online/virtual learning accommodations as early as possible with Curriculum Managers, OSAC Deans, or CCOM Registrar.

During the clinical phases of the MD curriculum, there is more flexibility in scheduling due to the 16 weeks of flex time allotted for students, and the nature of the block scheduling of clerkships. While 8-10 weeks of flex time is typically reserved for residency interviews, and some additional weeks may be needed to complete USMLE examinations beyond the dedicated study block - there are reasonable scenarios where a student could take up to 6 weeks of flex time for a parental leave and still maintain their original graduation timeline. 

During the clinical phases, If a student utilizes all flex weeks for leave and other commitments, but still wants to attempt to maintain their graduation timeline, there are some options to consider: 1) If interested in a primary care field, enrolling in a Continuity of Care (COC) advanced elective [which occurs over a 12-month period outside of regular clinical blocks], 2) enrolling in the advanced elective FAM:8424 Family Caregiving Transitions, coinciding beginning with or when returning from leave, 3) extending the final spring semester by 2 weeks past the commencement ceremony, thus taking additional weeks to graduate but still maintaining the necessary timeline to begin residency as scheduled.   Otherwise, the student may choose to take a longer leave as necessary and simply push back the graduation date by a semester or year. Of note, this is general guidance and students should consult with an OSAC Dean or CCOM Registrar to individualize their plans.

C. Lactation Support

Upon return to classes or clerkships after a parental leave, the college is committed to supporting the academic success of lactating students. Through partnerships with college and department leadership, a policy has been developed, in accordance with national health care laws and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement on breastfeeding and the use of human milk that support the efforts of students who wish to continue to provide breast milk to their infants through pumping after they return to their academic programs.

Departments and units within the CCOM must reasonably accommodate a student’s request for lactation time and ensure there is no retaliation, whether actual or threatened. Most lactating individuals need to pump milk approximately every 2 hours to maintain adequate milk supply. The policy applies to all educational/training experiences, including classroom experiences, clerkships and laboratory experiences.  To see the entire policy and procedures supporting breastfeeding students, including resources on lactation facilities, please view the Absences section of the student handbook.

D. Counseling Services for New Parents

The Medical Student Counseling Center (MSCC) is committed to providing quality services and support to medical students, and recognizes the unique challenges faced by all medical students, but also those who are new parents.  In order to maximize our students’ success, we have developed many programs including those designed to support their mental health as guided by the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Strategic Plan for wellness promotion.  To make an appointment with a counselor, call 319-335-8056, or visit the MSCC in 1240 MERF.

E. Additional Resources & Opportunities for Student-Parents

7. Dropping Courses and Clerkships

Medical student are not permitted to drop a course after the deadline established by the Deans of the Office of Student Affairs and Curriculum of the Carver College of Medicine unless that student has received the permission of one of the Deans or the College's Registrar. Students who discontinue attending or participating in small group activities in a course without obtaining the permission of the dean shall receive a failing grade in the course.    

Students in the M3 and M4 years must allow four-weeks notice when asking to drop or add a clinical clerkship or making any other schedule changes.  Students should utilize advice from their Specialty-Specific Faculty Advisor when making changes to their Phase III schedule.

8. Specialty-Specific Faculty Advising

Students who are planning for the Phase III advanced electives must select a Specialty-Specific Faculty Advisor (SSFA) in August of M3 year. There is a list of Specialty Specific Faculty Advisors in the Guide to Specialty-based Pathways; students must choose a Specialty Specific Faculty Advisor from the list. If a student has not chosen a specialty, he/she may choose the Learning Community Faculty Director or one of the OSAC Deans to assist in formulating the Phase III advanced elective schedule. Students are highly encouraged to select a Specialty Specific Faculty Advisor as soon as possible.


Student and the advisor will review the planned electives. Once satisfactory plan has been formulated, the Specialty-Specific Faculty Advisor must sign off on the proposed schedule. The signature is necessary before the registrar will accept the student’s Phase III advanced elective scheduling request.

Students will be required to have another meeting with their SSFA during spring semester of M3 year, soon after having received their initial USMLE exam score. Additionally, if students change the desired specialty along the way, they will be required to have a meeting with a new SSFA upon making that change. 

9. Distinction Tracks

Distinction Tracks offer students the opportunity to pursue scholarship outside of the medical curriculum. The tracks represent ways for students to explore interests beyond the basic science and clinical knowledge domains. The pursuit of distinction tracks is documented within a student’s Medical Student Performance Evaluation Letter and acknowledged during the graduation ceremony. 

Students are limited to earning no more than two distinction tracks.  Participation in more than one distinction track is only allowed when necessary requirements for each track are satisfied separately.

10. Academic Probation

Academic Probation status and duration is determined by the Medical Student Promotions Committee.  For further information, see the Evaluations, Grades, and Promotions section of the Student Handbook.

11. Good Standing

Students are considered to be in good standing, except in the following circumstances:

  • While on probation
  • With an incomplete remediation
  • Upon a dismissal recommendation by the Promotions Committee

Not being in good standing will prevent students from participating in activities that require good standing as a condition of participation.    If a desired activity will occur after a student is anticipated to have returned to good standing (typically through the completion of a remediation or other requirement mandated by the Promotions Committee), then students may be approved to apply for such an activity.

12. Withdrawal from the College

A student may withdraw from the Carver College of Medicine upon approval of a written request submitted to one of the Deans in the Office of Student Affairs and Curriculum or the College’s Registrar.  The Financial Services unit should be consulted regarding the financial ramifications of such a withdrawal. 

13. Reinstatement to the College

Students who voluntarily withdraw or who have been dismissed from the College may apply for reinstatement. 

Requests for reinstatement can be made within the first three years of the student’s separation from the College. One year following separation must elapse before a reinstatement request will be considered. Requests must be received in writing in the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs at least four months prior to the requested date of readmission. For example, any student desiring to re-enroll in the College in August must make that known by April. (Revised effective January 1, 2021).

Requests for reinstatement will be considered by the Medical Student Promotions Committee. Reinstatement requests usually involve a personal interview with the Committee.  The Promotions Committee’s recommendations will be forwarded for action to the Executive Dean. Denials of a request for reinstatement cannot be appealed. One year must elapse before a subsequent request for reinstatement will be considered by the Student Promotions Committee.

Students who voluntarily withdraw or who have been dismissed from the College more than three years prior must reapply for admission through the regular admission process.