Dropping and Withdrawing

When you no longer plan to complete a class that you are enrolled in, you must drop or request to withdraw from the class. It is your responsibility to drop or to request to withdraw by the deadline to be eligible for a full or prorated refund.  If you will not be attending, you must drop all classes prior to the first day of classes to avoid any charges being due. Do not assume the university will remove you from a class for non-payment of fees or that the instructor will remove you for non-attendance.

  • Dropping or withdrawing from one or more classes may affect your status as a full-time student, your tuition calculation, and your financial aid eligibility.
  • If you are currently receiving financial aid or have received aid previously, you may be responsible for paying back some or all of the aid if you drop or withdraw from one or more classes. If you are unsure about your financial aid status, contact the Office of Student Financial Aid for information.
  • For information about refund calculations and deadlines, review the Bursar’s Office website.
  • International students should contact the Office of International Programs (f1@sfsu.edu), as drops and withdrawals can affect an international student’s visa status.
  • Students receiving veterans benefits also need to be mindful of the special rules required to receive benefits and continue eligibility. Contact the Veteran’s Service Center for assistance.

There are policy and procedure implications to when you drop or request to withdraw from a course. Click on the appropriate section below to review the details for that time period. approval process.

During the first three weeks of instruction, withdrawing from courses is permitted without restriction or academic penalty – commonly referred to as “dropping a class.”  Dropped courses do not appear on your academic transcript, do not count toward your attempted units for a given term, and do not count toward the Undergraduate Withdrawal Limit. Please refer to the Dates & Deadlines page on the Registrar’s website for specific drop deadlines.

At SF State, dropping a course is the student’s responsibility.  However, faculty are authorized to instructor-drop students who do not attend the first class meeting, who do not meet the course criteria, or who do not participate in the course as required during the drop period.

To drop a class:

  1. Use self-service registration in your Student Center before the end of the third week of instruction.
  2. Dropped courses will no longer appear on your transcript.

During the fourth through twelfth week of instruction, students may request to withdraw from courses for serious and compelling reasons, as specified by the student.  Such withdrawals require approval from the instructor and the chairperson of the department offering the class.  If your request is approved, you will receive a W on your transcript for the class, indicating that you attempted the class but withdrew before completing it for a letter grade. W grades are not included in your GPA. 

Undergraduates may withdraw from a maximum of 18 units throughout their entire SF State undergraduate career (see Grading Policy).  Be aware that withdrawing from one or more classes may negatively affect your financial aid (your Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and your financial aid eligibility).

To request to withdraw, you will need to:

  1. Complete the online request to withdraw in your Student Center to withdraw from one or more classes. (See “Request to Withdraw.”)  Undergraduates who have reached the maximum unit limit to withdraw will not be able to submit a request.
  2. Provide a serious and compelling reason in the online request form.
  3. Your request will be routed to the appropriate approvers.  You can check the status by returning to your request in the Student Center.  You will also receive an email notification with the final decision.
  4. Continue participating in the class until your request is approved.
  5. If your request is approved, you will receive a W on your transcript.  
  6. If your request to withdraw is not approved, you must initiate the Incomplete process, if applicable, or complete the class(es). If you cease attending class, you may be assigned a WU or F (a WU is treated as an F for GPA calculation).

From the thirteenth week through the last week of instruction, students may only request to withdraw in cases, such as accident or serious illness, where the cause of withdrawal is due to circumstances clearly beyond the student's control and the assignment of an Incomplete is not practicable. Such requests require documentation, as well as approval from the instructor, the chairperson of the department offering the class, and the Dean of Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning.  

Requests to withdraw approved under this criterion during the final 3 weeks of the term will not count against the undergraduate withdrawal limit of 18 semester-units. 

 To request to withdraw during the final 3 weeks, you will need to:

  1. Complete the online request to withdraw. (See “Request to Withdrawal.”)
  2. Provide a serious and compelling reason in the online request form and upload thorough and credible documentation supporting circumstances clearly beyond your control such as accident or serious illness preventing completion of the course or the assignment of an Incomplete.
  3. Your request will be routed to the appropriate approvers.  You can check the status by returning to your request in the Student Center.  You will also receive an email notification with the final decision.
  4. Continue participating in class until your request is approved.
  5. If approved, a symbol of WM will be assigned. WM grades are not included in your GPA and will not count toward the undergraduate repeat limit.  Your transcript will reflect a W as the WM is for internal purposes only. 
  6. If your request to withdraw is not approved, you must work with your instructor to see if an Incomplete is appropriate or complete the class(es). If you cease attending class, you may be assigned a WU or F (a WU is treated as an F for GPA calculation).

What happens if I submit my request to withdraw during weeks 4 through 12, but it doesn't get reviewed until after the thirteenth week of class? Will I need to submit a new request form for a withdrawal due to circumstances clearly beyond my control?

No. Your request is approved or denied based on the date you submitted the request, not on the date it is reviewed.

Do I need to submit documentation during weeks 4 through 12?

Submitting documentation this period is optional.  If you feel it will assist your instructor and department chair in their review, you may do so.  A short description in the text box is normally enough during this period.

Why do I need to submit documentation during the final three weeks?

When you submit a request to withdraw during the final three weeks of instruction (or during the corresponding withdrawal periods for winter and summer terms), you will be required to upload documentation which clearly demonstrates serious and extenuating circumstances beyond your control, such as illness or accident, that prevent you from continuing in your classes. Documentation must be thorough and credible. Poor academic performance, lack of attendance, and desire to avoid a low grade are not considered compelling reasons for withdrawal.

How long will it take for my request to be approved or denied?

Requests will be reviewed as soon as possible.  You can check the status of your request in the online system.  Be aware that it can take 5 to 7 business days especially during the final three weeks of the semester due to the criteria and process.

Who reviews my request to withdraw?

Your request must be approved by your course instructor and the department chair for the course. If you submit your request during the final three weeks of class, it will additionally need to be approved by the Dean of Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning.

Why was my request to withdraw denied?

The reason for the denial will be available online by returning to your request in the Student Center in Campus Solutions (CS).

Why isn't there a checkbox next to the class I want to withdraw from?

A checkbox will not appear next to a class if you have already submitted a withdrawal request for that class or you have already reached the undergraduate maximum units to withdraw.

How do W grades impact my financial aid eligibility?

Grades of W count toward your attempted credits calculation for determining Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) but do not count as credited earned so lower your PACE calculation and use credits towards Maximum Time Frame Calculations. Please consult with the Office of Student Financial Aid for more information.

What is the difference between a W and a WM grade?

A W grade (Withdrawal) is granted for approved withdrawals and does not affect your GPA. You may withdraw from a maximum of 18 units during your SFSU undergraduate career.

A WM (Withdrawal for Extenuating Circumstances) grade is granted for approved withdrawal under serious and extenuating circumstances and does not affect your GPA. If a withdrawal during the last three weeks of a semester is approved, it will generally result in WM grades. Official transcripts will still display a W.  The WM is only for internal purposes. WM grades do not count towards the maximum of 18 units of withdrawals permitted.

How can I see how many courses and units are counting towards my withdraw and repeat unit limits as an undergraduate student?

This information is visible in your Student Center.  Please see the Withdrawal & Repeat Limit guide on cms.sfsu.edu for detailed instructions.

Appeal of the Denial of a Request to Withdraw

If your request to withdraw from a course or courses was denied, you may appeal this decision by the last day of finals of that term.  Submit a brief statement including the following to the Registrar’s Office by the last day of finals:

  • Student’s first and last name
  • Student’s SF State ID number
  • Current email and phone number
  • Department(s) and course number(s) for each course which was denied that you are appealing.
  • A clear statement of the rationale for your appeal.  You may include documentation which you feel supports your request.

Depending on the basis and timing of your appeal, it may be reviewed by the Department Chair, the Registrar, the Dean of Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning or the Board of Appeals and Review committee for a final determination.

Appeal to exclude a withdrawal from all courses during weeks 4 through 12 of instruction counting toward the withdraw limit (Undergraduates only).

Undergraduate students who are withdrawing from all their classes due to a serious illness or accident during weeks 4 through 12 may appeal to have these withdrawals excluded from the withdraw limit.  For your appeal to be considered, you must:

  1. Submit requests to withdraw from each course using the procedure above.
  2. Submit a brief statement including the following to the Registrar’s Office:
    • Student’s first and last name
    • Student’s SF State ID number
    • Current email and phone number
    • A statement as to the serious illness or accident which prevents you from completing any of your courses for this term.
    • Provide thorough and credible documentation supporting the serious illness or accident.

Your appeal will be considered by the Registrar if all individual course withdrawals are approved.  You will be notified of the results.

Appeal of the Deadline to Submit a Request for Withdrawal

Academic Policy requires that all requests to withdraw from a course must be submitted no later than the last day of instruction of that term.   If circumstances clearly beyond your control prevented you from meeting this deadline, you may appeal for consideration.   Your appeal should be submitted to the Registrar’s Office and include:

  • A brief statement (1-2 pages) outlining the nature of the request, including an explanation of the circumstances that prevented you from meeting the deadline. The statement must include:
    • Student’s first and last name
    • Student’s SF State ID number
    • Current email and phone number
    • Semester and year (e.g. spring 2020) for which you are requesting the withdrawal(s)
    • Department(s) and course number(s) for each course for which you are requesting withdrawal
  • Documentation of the accident or serious illness that clearly matches the time period for which you are requesting the withdrawal.
  • Approval to withdraw from the instructor(s) and department chair(s) for the course(s). If there is more than one course involved, you must secure approval from the instructor and department chair for each course. Please note, if an instructor is no longer available, you can secure the department chair’s approval. Approval can be secured via SFSU email and those emails must be included in your documentation.

Appeals which are incomplete or which are based on circumstances within your control will be denied.  Appeals for a full semester will be reviewed by the Board of Appeals and Review committee as appropriate.  They will make a recommendation to the academic administrator appointed by the president for a final determination for withdraw proposals after the 13th week of the semester.