14+ Best family emergency excuses for school absences

What are the best family emergency excuses for school absence?

The best excuses for missing school days or exams include:

  1. Stating you have a general family emergency
  2. Car accident
  3. Medical appointments
  4. Having a debilitating medical condition
  5. Car troubles
  6. Mental health issues
  7. Emergency dental appointments
  8. Military activation
  9. Death of a family member
  10. Illness
  11. Migrane
  12. Exhaustion
  13. Assault
  14. Child care

You should note that a family emergency can apply to you or an immediate family member. So feel free to use these absence excuses for school when talking about yourself, mom, dad, sibling, or other close family members.

Luckily for you, I’ll show you some of the best excuses for missing an entire day of school. I’ll also show you some of the worst excuses to use and some tricks your teachers may use to call you out if they don’t believe you.

Key Takeaways:

  • The most common excuse for missing school usually involves an emergency situation that affects you or immediate family member. Believable excuses will usually not include extended family.
  • Instructors may ask for verification of your family emergency, so it’s best not to lie.
  • Different types of absences include excused and unexcused. School attendance policies are usually listed on the school’s website. In general, the teacher is in charge of determining if an absence is excused or unexcused.
  • Instructors are much less likely to excuse you if you have chronic absenteeism, or constantly missing class without prior approval.

TFF22-117 - Best family emergency excuses for school absences

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Family emergency excuses for school absence

Coming up with a good reason for a school absence can be challenging. In fact, excused absences are often subjective and deemed acceptable or unacceptable by the instructor.

Each school will have guidance on what is considered an excused absence. For example, Montana Tech University gives the following guidance on excused absences:

  1. Instructors should give reasonable accommodations to make up work for excused absences.
  2. Students should communicate any anticipated absences early in advance so they may understand the absence policy of the classroom.
  3. Excused absences are Montana Tech events (e.g., sporting events you play in) and personal matters as deemed appropriate by the instructor.

As you can see, your professor has the majority of the power when determining if your absence is excused or unexcused.

Therefore, it is important to understand your professor and how to reach them. As you can imagine, some professors will be more sympathetic than others.

Let’s take a look at  some of the most common family emergency excuses and how you might be able to use them for your absence request.

#1 Family emergency

One of my favorite ways to clear up an unexcused absence from school it’s to generally state that you have a family emergency. A family emergency is a broad term used to describe a problem within your family that requires your attention.

Examples of family emergencies may include:

  • Serious illness or injury
  • Death of a family member
  • A car accident involving a family member
  • Sudden loss of income
  • Mental health crisis (e.g., depression or anxiety)
  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Legal problems (e.g., family member was arrested)
  • Home invasion
  • Birth of a child
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Food poisoning
  • Harassment (e.g., cyberbullying or threats against your family)
  • Animal attack

It is important to note that a family emergency may cover yourself or a direct family member. By direct family members, we mean someone in your immediate family such as your parents, siblings, child, and even grandparents.

A family emergency can be as simple as saying your spouse really needed you above your school or work priorities.

I like to think of using a family emergency excuse as your golden ticket to not getting into trouble for missing work or school. Most professors will generally not question you further for bringing up a family emergency.

However, it’s not a bulletproof excuse because your school or boss can still ask for proof of your emergency.Therefore, it is always important to be open and honest about your emergency.

As an example, some professors may go so far as to ask you for a funeral program if you claim that your grandparents have died. Failure to bring back a program may result in an unexcused absence or failing a test that you missed.

I discuss family emergency excuses in great detail in my guide for getting out of your obligations because of unexpected family emergencies.

#2 Car accident

When I was in college, I knew a girl that was in a car accident right before our College midterm exams.The accident had left her with extreme brain fog and unable to prepare or take a test. In this case, she asked the professor if she could take the test at a later date or forgo the test.

The teacher was more than willing to delay the test another week.

However, the girl clearly had signs of being in a car accident. Her face was extremely scratched up from the impact. Just by looking at the girl, you could tell that something had happened.

Not all car accidents leave marks though. You could be extremely shaken up over the fact that you were in a car accident, even a minor fender bender.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be you that was in the car accident. It is perfectly acceptable to use a car accident as a family emergency excuse if one of your close family members was in a car accident.

Any car accident, no matter how large or small, is a valid excuse for missing school for a test. You should try to inform the teacher as soon as possible to avoid suspicion of slacking off.

In some cases, your professor may ask for proof of the accident. In this case, they may ask for a copy of the police report. Failure to present a police report may result in the professor having zero sympathy for you.

#3 Doctor’s appointment

Doctor’s appointments are very tricky to use as an excuse for missing school or not taking an exam. Most professors would expect that you will schedule your doctor’s appointments outside of school hours.

However, sometimes you are allowed to get into a doctor’s appointment that is usually booked for months. A typical example would be a dermatology appointment as dermatologists are normally booked out anywhere from 2 to 6 months in advance.

A professor may ask for proof of your medical appointment.  Commonly, your professor may ask for a doctor’s note which proves you were at your appointment.

#4 Medical reasons

There are certain medical reasons why you should miss your class, such as being contagious. Any condition in which you feel is not in the benefit of yourself or the class for you attending, is typically a good reason for you to stay home.

You should also consider staying home if one of your family members is also struggling with a medical issue. As long as you are one of the only support systems your family member has, it is an acceptable reason to stay home.

Common medical reasons why you may stay home from school include:

  • Feeling contagious, such as having a common cold, flu, or even covid-19
  • Having a chronic condition, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Struggling with mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and stress
  • You’ve recently undergone a surgery
  • You have a severe allergic reaction or food sensitivity

When I was in college, I knew a girl that had Crohn’s disease and she frequently used it as an excuse to miss class when she wasn’t feeling well. The key is that she was a good student that performed excellent work and was forthcoming with information with their professor.

Don’t try to pass off your fun night at Taco Tuesday for medical exemption from class. Most professors are quite aware of the bar specials and may have even been in attendance themselves.

#5 Car troubles

I went to college in a very cold and snowy place. It wasn’t uncommon for temperatures to drop below freezing and have unexpected snowfall.

Bad weather has its own excuse for not attending school, but weather can also contribute to many different car problems. Most notably, your battery may die as the temperatures drop.

In some cases, losing a car means that you have to give up the spare car to a family member who has more important responsibilities, such as work. You may even be a one-car family, meaning your only mode of transportation is now unusable.

Having at least one mode of transportation should be a priority for you and your family. Not having a car can make it difficult to pick up groceries or run essential errands.

#6 Mental health day

Mental health issues are rapidly becoming one of the most common reasons for missing work or school. Taking care of your mental health should be priority number one.

Students may face, or know someone facing, any one of these common mental health issues which will prevent them from going to school:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Learning disabilities

Most colleges are well equipped with different resources to help you cope with your mental health issues. For example, some of the options my school had through a Disabilities Services Department includes:

  • Unlimited use of a happy light. As previously mentioned, my campus was practically in winter for the majority of the school year. Depression is common during the winter time, so the school had a happy light to help students increase their levels of Serotonin.
  • Counseling. My school had numerous counselors which any student could schedule an appointment with, free of charge.
  • Equipment requests. One time I was extremely stressed about a test and the teacher recommended my own quiet room for test-taking. A table was brought in and I was able to take the test completely uninterrupted.
  • Peer-to-peer mentoring.Younger students were often matched up with older students, typically within their field of study. These younger students had the ability to ask questions or receive help with homework assignments from someone that had been through the same program more recently.

#7 Dental appointments

Dental appointments are not really considered a family emergency and most professors will ask that you schedule your dental appointments outside of class hours. However, should you or one of your direct family members need a ride to the dentist because of a cracked tooth, you might be able to get away with it.

The key to making a dental appointment a valid excuse for a family emergency is the urgency in which the appointment is needed. For example, any of these sudden issues should be seen by a dentist immediately:

  1. Infection of the gum or tooth
  2. Broken or missing tooth
  3. Abscess around the tooth or gum tissue
  4. Unexplained swelling around your mouth
  5. Discomfort or pain when chewing

For example, I have had to miss out on my responsibilities, such as school or work, after biting into a Tootsie Pop and cracking a tooth over the weekend. The cracked tooth was extremely painful and I needed an immediate appointment.

Luckily, I wrote a complete guide on using dental emergencies as an excuse for getting out of work or school. The guide walks you through over 30 different emergencies that can apply to yourself or your family members.

#8 Family service member has been activated

You should inform your school immediately if one of your family members has been activated for military duty. Having a family member activated can be very difficult for families. Now is your opportunity to spend time before they are shipped off.

Most schools will understand the situation, and often have policies in place for military families.

#9 Death in the family

It is not uncommon that by the time you reach College age to lose a grandparent. Many of my fraternity brothers had to use the excuse that there was a death in the family to miss class. None of my fraternity Brothers had any issues using this excuse.

However, as previously mentioned, not all professors are sympathetic to a deceased family member. Some professors may expect you to bring back a funeral program to prove a death in the family.

Other professors have gone so far as to call your parents and offer their condolences for the deceased family member. This conversation usually goes one of two ways:

  1. Your parents thank the professor for their condolences and confirm that there was a death in the family.
  2. Your parents asked the professor what in the world they’re talking about.

#10 Illness

Stay home if you’re not feeling well. The last thing anybody wants is to catch your cold and be sick themselves. Remember, early communication with your professor is required so that you can avoid getting an unexcused absence.

#11 Headache or Migraine

I have had frequent migraines and not just the ones that follow Wing Night at our local bar. Migraines can be completely debilitating, which makes them a perfect excuse to miss work or school.

The moment you think you won’t be able to make it in the class because of a migraine, send your professor an email. I would send them something along the lines of:


I regret to inform you that I will not be able to make it into class today as I am having an extreme migraine attack. I get these every now and then and I desperately need to take care of this situation.

I do not wish to miss out on important class information or turning in my work on time. Is there any way to watch the lecture online, email you my assignment, or know which chapters are being covered in the textbook?

Please let me know how I can make this Migraine be less impactful to my studies.

Thank you,

[Your name]

Luckily, I wrote a guide you can follow for getting time off due to severe migraines. The guide walks you through crafting the ultimate sales pitch to your boss or professor for needing time off because of a headache.

#12 Exhaustion

Exhaustion is an excuse that you should only use with a sympathetic professor. College is one of the most exhausting, yet fun times of our lives. I have had many late nights in the library while trying to figure out my assignments that were due the next morning.

Personally, I would try to emphasize the amount of stress you’re under and how you were unable to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. You may wish to ask the professor for a little extra time to turn in assignments while trying to recover.

My recommendation would be to give examples why you’ve been so exhausted. Examples may include:

  • Staying up late cramming for an exam
  • Having a larger course load than normal
  • Getting multiple assignments due on the same day

I would avoid letting your professor know of any extracurricular activities, such as partying or attending fun events.

#13 Assault

Unfortunately, assault is a very likely scenario on a college campus. If you or one of your family members is the victim of assault, contact your professor immediately and ask for some time off. Victims of assault will often need time to recover and get emotional support before they are ready to return to their responsibilities.

It is important to note that assault can happen in many different forms. Any one of these forms of assault is a valid reason for taking time away from school:

  1. Physical assault
  2. Sexual Assault
  3. Domestic violence

Your school will most likely offer counselors who you can talk to in the event of assault.

If the person assaulting you or your family member is in one of your classes, your school may be able to adjust your schedule.

#14 Child Care

Child Care issues are another acceptable reason for missing school last minute. Your number one priority should be to your children and your family. Therefore, it is always important to make sure you have child care that you can trust so you can go to school with peace of mind.

You may also want to consult your professor to see if remote learning is an opportunity. Remote learning would allow you to watch the lecture online for when you do have childcare issues and cannot make it into class.

Non emergency excuses for school absence

The following are non emergency excuses for missing school. Using these excuses may result in an unexcused absence, but you will have to consult your professor for an excused or unexcused absence determination.

Family vacation

Most professors will not allow family vacation as an acceptable excuse for missing class. Students have summer and winter breaks to take vacation. Most professors will expect that you use school breaks or other non-conflicting times to take your vacation.

Heavy traffic

Unusually heavy traffic is often a poor excuse for missing class. Your instructor will anticipate you planning your   commute accordingly, and to always be on time. In this case, it is better to be late because of heavy traffic now than when you get your first job and your boss definitely expects you to be on time.

Bad Weather

Bad weather does occur, but your professor will expect you to be on time regardless of what’s happening outside. The only exception is usually when the school or school district sends out an alert stating classes are delayed or canceled.

Jury Duty

Jury duty is only a valid excuse if you have early communication with your professor saying you’ve been selected. You should not miss class and then expect an excused absence for jury duty without prior communication.

John is the founder of TightFist Finance and an expert in the field of personal finance. John has studied personal finance for over 10 years and has used his knowledge to pay down debt, grow his investment portfolio, and launch a financial based business. He is committed to sharing content related to personal finance based on his experience in his career, investing, and path towards reaching financial independence.