A student may request a reduced course load (RCL) if they meet the criteria outlined by immigration regulations. An approved RCL allows an F-1 student to keep their legal status while registering for less than 3 credits in a semester. Acceptable reasons are listed below. A request must be supported by a student’s academic adviser and pre-approved by the PDSO before it takes effect. Dropping below a full course of study without prior approval from the PDSO results in a loss of legal status and the loss of on and off-campus employment eligibility.
Steps for Requesting a Reduced Course Load
- Discuss your situation with your academic adviser BEFORE submitting an RCL request. Your academic adviser cannot approve your request before having this discussion. Failure to contact your adviser may cause serious delays in processing your request. A student may request an RCL only one time per semester.
- Download the RCL request form, fill it out, and have your academic advisor sign it. If your advisor has questions about the RCL or the Form, they are welcome to contact Caitlin Lamont Kreienkamp, PDSO.
- Bring the RCL form signed by your academic advisor to the PDSO. Based on your advisor’s recommendation, the PDSO will either approve or deny your request.
Note: If you choose reason #3 (Medical Reason), a recommendation from your academic adviser is not required. Instead, complete the RCL form and bring a supporting letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or clinical psychologist. If the letter is acceptable, the PDSO will approve your request.
4. Once your RCL request is approved by the PDSO and (except for Medical reasons) your academic advisor, you may change your registration. If your request is approved after the drop/add deadline, you will additionally be required to submit a petition to the Registrar’s Office.
Acceptable Reasons For A Reduced Course Load
- Final Semester and Less than a Full Course Load is Needed to Complete Student’s Program of Study
- For students who need less than a full-course load to graduate in the specified term. Note: Students must be registered for at least one in-person course during their final semester.
- Students must be registered for all their remaining required coursework during the specified semester.
- Students with an academic difficulty RCL are not eligible to register concurrently at another university or community college unless they are pre-approved by the PDSO for extenuating circumstances.
- Academic Difficulty due to:
- Improper course level placement
- Initial difficulty with English language or reading requirements
- Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods
- If a student fears the possibility of doing poorly in a course but their situation is not reflected by one of the 3 reasons listed above, they are not eligible for an RCL based on academic difficulty.
- An academic difficulty RCL may only be used one time (one semester)
- Students must maintain half-time enrollment during the semester of the reduced course load.
- Medical Reason
- Limited to 12 months of reduced course load.
- Requires a supporting letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or clinical psychologist. The letter does not need to state the specific medical condition, but must indicate that the condition requires less than full-time enrollment.
- Participating in either a Full-Time Required Internship, or a Full-Time Co-Op
- Requires evidence that the internship is a requirement of the program, or documentation that the student is participating in a co-op program.
- Students in an academic program requiring a full-time internship need to provide documented evidence indicating employment is required for degree completion.
- Students who participate in a co-op program need to provide documented evidence of co-op approval from your college or academic department.
Unacceptable Reasons for a Reduced Course Load
- Financial difficulties
- Medical illness of family member
- Preparing for GMAT, GRE, CPA, or similar exams
- Suspension from academic program
- Working on incompletes from a previous semester
- Auditing courses