Writing an Extension Request Letter (with Sample)Writing an Extension Request Letter
Use this sample extension request letter as a template for your formal request.
Never Feel Embarrassed!
Since extension letters are asking for a favor, many people feel embarrassed, and find it difficult to express themselves. However, extension letters are normal for people in difficult or unexpected situations, and, if they are written according to proper business letter format and are polite and clear, there is no reason to feel embarrassed.
A student should not include statements that complain about the time limit given for a paper, and a prospective employee should not include statements complaining about low salary.
Some of the reasons for an extension request letter are:
• Extension of probationary period
• Extension of time to file a legal brief
• Extension for debt repayment
• Extension of medical leave
• Extension of a job interview date
This is a letter asking for special permission. The sender should not take for granted that the request will have a favorable outcome. Letters that have a respectful tone and look professional have a better chance of success than a letter that is full of complaints and criticisms. The letter should be sent well in advance of the time for which the request is made. A last minute request puts the receiver under pressure and in an awkward situation. It also shows irresponsibility and poor planning on the part of the requester. This is not a courteous way to ask for a favor.
The requester should have a realistic idea of how much time they need for an extension. If they ask for too little time, there is a chance they will miss that deadline too and need to ask for another extension. This will, most likely, not be well received. It is also important to consider the time limits of the recipient. An employer may need to hire someone as soon as possible, so asking for a small extension may be all right, but asking for several weeks may not be acceptable. A teacher or professor may be willing to grant an extension that is within the timing of the current semester, but not an extension that goes into the summer vacation or next semester.
Here is a sample of an extension request letter. It should be sent by certified mail, so the sender has proof of the date it was sent and received. Any enclosures should be copies, and no original documents should be sent. If the extension is granted, a follow up letter of appreciation should be sent immediately.
Sample Extension Request Letter
City, State, Zip Code
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Receiver’s Name,
I am enrolled in your English Literature 101 class and have been absent for the past five weeks because of injuries I sustained in an automobile accident. You have kindly accommodated my situation by allowing me to turn in my homework late, and this has helped make it possible for me to remain enrolled in the university and not lose a semester, and I am very grateful to you.
I have been released from the hospital, but still need to walk with crutches for the next month. Because of this inconvenience, it will be very difficult to do the required research for the mid-term paper that is due on DATE. I would like to ask for an extension of 10 days to complete the paper. It is my intention to submit the paper to you on DATE.
Thank you again for the kindness you have shown me during this difficult time and for taking the time to consider my current request. I would be happy to answer any questions, and have enclosed a letter from my doctor explaining my current physical condition. You can call me at 555-123-4567 or email me at Name@email.com.
Requester’s name printed
List of enclosures
By Andre Bradley
It’s that time of the semester again.
It’s the Sunday before finals, the last week of classes, when you look at your planner and realize that not only are you nowhere near finished with your final projects, but they’re all due on the same day within two hours of each other.
Plus you have finals and haven’t even begun to look for and create study guides.
Whether it’s procrastination, overwhelming responsibilities, or any other excuse you tell yourself, you might not be able to finish everything on time. So what can you do?
- You can turn in mediocre or unfinished work and accept whatever grade you receive.
- You can turn everything in late and hope for the best.
- You can just ignore the problem and shamefully avoid eye contact with your professors.
- Or you can swallow your pride and ask for a due date extension.
I’ve written before about having no time to feed myself let alone sleep, blog, and work on my five-year plan. Open secret: I’ve let some of my assignments fall behind, too. In most cases I just turned in B- work and accepted my grades, but there have been times when I’ve asked if I could turn in a paper late to accommodate my absurd work schedule.
The internet is a goldmine for tips on how to email a professor with questions and requests about a class, but no one wants to talk about asking for a due date extension. It requires you owning up to your personal problems or bad time management skills, plus it’s super awkward to walk the line of begging for help and coming across as a competent adult.
How do you convince them that you weren’t just slacking off all semester? What’s the right amount of flattery? How much tragic backstory is too much tragic backstory?
Here’s an example, which is pretty close to one of the (successful!) due date extension requests I sent this semester:
Dear Professor Anderson,
This is Cordelia, from anthro section 7. I know we talked after class about my issues with the paper, but I am still having trouble getting more data points for my research. Would it be possible to meet and discuss other options for this portion of the paper? Or is there any way I could get an extension for a day or so? I am not sure I can meet all of the assignment requirements by the current deadline and I do not want to turn in subpar work.
I really appreciate how much support and guidance you’ve given me this semester, and I apologize for requesting an exception–I know that the due dates were set for a reason and you probably have set aside a specific time to grade these papers. I hope we can work something out, but I will accept whatever grade you feel this paper deserves.
Thank you for your consideration.
Freelance Writer & Blogger
Orphan Survival Guide
Never open with “Hey Prof,” or “Dr. Smith–”
Open with a nice, professional greeting. This is not a conversation. You are asking them for a favor. A simple “Dear Professor X,” or “Hello Dr. Y,” should be enough.
Remind them that you have interacted at some point during the semester. Even if it was just the one time you raised your hand in class, remind them that you’re their student and you’ve tried, at least once.
Even if they don’t remember the exact situation, the fact that you’ve spoken to them in person at some point is enough to humanize you. They’ll be more likely to think “Oh yes, this is a real person who cares enough to reach out to me about a difficult situation.”
The best way to get in your instructors’ good graces is to engage with them both in and out of class. Show up to class, respond in lecture and discussion, meet with them when the class is over.
But especially engage with them outside of class. Showing up during office hours, sending emails throughout the semester, even saying hi to each other on the street–they remember things like that.
Explain the Situation
Don’t give a long list of excuses or complain about how hard this semester is. Just let them know that you’ve had stressful responsibilities that ended up taking priority over classwork. However, don’t imply that their class isn’t a priority for you.
Ask them what you want, whether it’s just extra time, special consideration for a missing part of a project, or even your grade report if you don’t turn the assignment in at all.
But be sure you ask. Don’t make demands. Don’t tell them that this is something they need to do for you. They might not have the time or power to accept late work, and even if they do, they certainly won’t be inclined to make an exception for you if you’re being a jerk about it. Wait to ~lean in~ until you’re out in the workforce.
Use a Little Flattery
Buttering them up almost never backfires. But don’t lay it on too thick–they could think you’re trying too hard or they might think you’re being passive-aggressive.
Be nice. Just let them know that you appreciate the work they do for the class, and that you are actually interested in what they teach–even if you really think they’re a horrible teacher and the class is pointless. Never say things like, “I know this class is important to you, but it’s not my major/it’s only a gen ed, so…”
Don’t tell them that the class isn’t important to you, even if it really is just a gen ed and you want to do the bare minimum amount of work. TAs hate being reminded that they’re stuck with students who just want to get the class over with.
Sorry goes a long way, especially when you request a favor that inconveniences them. Instructors have lives outside of class! TAs especially have a lot of other student work to grade and they probably set aside a specific time to work on it so asking for a due date means interfering with their schedule.
Accept Their Terms
Ultimately, the instructor has all the power to say no or negotiate with you. They may come back with a compromise–you can turn it in late if you add another element to the project, or you can turn it in late if you’re willing to accept half credit.
They’re making an exception for you, so be grateful for whatever scraps they throw your way.
Seriously y’all, it’s just polite!
and most importantly…
Don’t send an email like this after the fact. If the deadline has already passed, you have a much lower chance of getting them to agree to accept late work.
As soon as you realize you may not meet the deadline, let them know immediately. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get credit or gain favors with them.
Actually Do the Work
If they flat-out don’t accept late work, no exceptions, then go ahead and use those newly-freed-up hours to take a nap.
But if they reply with a maybe, or say they’ll think about it: do the work anyways. And do good work–turning in an A paper will keep you on their good side.