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Less than Full Time Exception

Registering for Less Than Full Time Course Load

U.S. Federal regulations governing F-1 status require that students pursue “a full course of study” that leads to the attainment of a specific educational or professional objective. For undergraduate students, a full course of study is defined as at least 12 semester credits per semester. No more than three credits or one course of on-line education may count toward this 12 credit minimum. You will also be required to resume a full course load within 21 days of your RCL expiration date.

F-1 students are required to obtain permission from their International Student Counselor before dropping below a full-time course load according to immigration regulations.  If you drop below full-time without permission, you may be considered out of status. You will need to complete the appropriate documentation depending on which authorization you are requesting. Paperwork to request a RCL is available from your International Student Counselor.

Authorization for less than full-time is dependent on one of the following reasons:

Academic Exceptions:

  1. Initial difficulty with English language
  2. Initial difficulty with reading requirements
  3. Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
  4. Improper course level placement

A student authorized for a RCL for academic reasons must maintain a minimum of six credits. A student previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to academic difficulties will not be eligible for a second authorization due to academic difficulties while pursuing a course of study at that program level regardless of whether authorization came from another college at that same level. The student must resume a full course of study in the next available semester in order to maintain student status.

Medical Exceptions:

  1. Illness or medical condition

You may request a reduced course load, or if necessary, no course load, due to a student’s temporary illness or medical condition for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level.  In order to authorize a reduced course load based on a medical condition, the student must provide current medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist to your International Student Counselor (ISC) to substantiate the illness or medical condition. The ISC must authorize the drop below full-time for each new semester. 

Completion of Studies Exception:

  1. To complete course of study in current term

The student must first obtain permission from the ISC before dropping below a full-time course load. An “application for undergraduate degree” with the Registrar’s Office, verifying the student’s intention to graduate in that semester, should be submitted as well. You must be enrolled in the number of credits required to complete degree requirements – a minimum of 1 credit.

A note of warning: Students should be absolutely certain that they will graduate in the current semester before choosing to register for less than a full-time course load.  Failure to graduate after dropping below a full-time course load will result in the student being out-of-status, and the loss of F-1 benefits.

In all cases, the student MUST meet with the International Student Counselor (ISC) BEFORE reducing to less than full time; otherwise, their status may be in jeopardy. 

Required Forms

Academic Exception

Medical Exception

Completion of Studies Exception