Federal regulations permit an F-1 student to be enrolled in less than a full course load due to specific academic or medical circumstances.
The regulations specify that a reduced course load can be authorized by the International Student Services Office for:
Typically the circumstances above would allow a student to "drop below full-time" after having initially registered for a full course of study. The resulting reduced course load must consist of at least six semester hours and can be authorized only ONCE during a course of study at that program (degree) level.
When academic RCL is authorized, that term is still considered a term of full-time enrollment in regards to eligibility toward annual vacation or employment.
The student must resume a full course of study at the next available term in order to maintain student status.
Approval for a Reduced Course Load MUST be approved BEFORE the student drops below full-time.
Click here to download the application for academic reduced course load. Print the form, complete your portion and obtain the recommendation of your academic adviser or professor. Instructions are provided on the form.
If you experience a medical condition for which your doctor or psychologist recommends that you not be enrolled full-time or that you should take no classes at all, you can be granted Reduced Course Load for medical reasons. Regulations limit medical RCL to an aggregate of 12 months. The RCL is granted by academic terms and can be extended with the submission of current (new) medical documentation for subsequent terms.
Click here to download the application for medical reduced course load. Print and complete the student portion of the application. Obtain the doctor's note and have the doctor complete the portion to recommend either part-time classes or no classes. Instructions are provided on the form.
When medical RCL is authorized, that term is still considered a term of full-time enrollment in regards to eligibility toward annual vacation or employment. However, it is unlikely that a student on medical RCL will be permitted any employment during the RCL period.
Upon request from the student, an I-20 stating that the student is on RCL for medical reasons can be printed for the student's convenience.
PLEASE NOTE: If a period of medical RCL is going to cause you to complete your program later than the end date on your I-20, it is your responsibility to re-plan your program and request an extension of your I-20 to your new expected completion date.