F-1 students are required to maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year. If you cannot meet the requirement, please contact the International Student Office (ISO).
Federal regulations limit the ability of F-1 students to enroll less than full-time. If you cannot meet the full-time requirement, you need to request authorization for a Reduced Course Load (RCL). Dropping below a full-time course load without first contacting the ISO and receiving authorization for RCL is considered an unauthorized drop, which is a direct violation of F-1 status and grounds for SEVIS termination.
Definition of Full Time
- Undergraduate students, including those in post-baccalaureate programs, must register for and complete at least 4 courses (12 credit hours) per semester
- Graduate students must register for and complete a minimum of 2 courses (6 credit hours) per semester
- If you are not enrolled full-time as defined here, please contact the ISO immediately
Unauthorized Drop Below Full Time
If you drop below full-time enrollment without authorization in advance from the ISO, the ISO is federally mandated to report this in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS); and you will lose your F-1 status.
Below are situations in which you could be eligible for a Reduced Course Load (RCL)
Completion of Course of Study
F-1 students who are in their final term, have enrolled in the one executive format course left needed to complete the degree requirements, and have requested an RCL are considered to be maintaining F-1 status. In some cases, an F-1 student may not need a full course load in their final term to have enough credits to graduate.
- If an F-1 student has only 1 (one) course left to complete in their final term, they may enroll in only that course if the course is executive format.
- But, if the final course needed is only offered in online format, the student will be required to enroll in an additional class that is executive format to maintain F-1 status; therefore RCL would not needed.
You may qualify for this option only if one of the following applies to you:
1) Initial difficulties during the first semester of the academic program with the English language, reading requirements, or unfamiliarity with American teaching methods.
2) Improper course-level placement during your academic program.
- RCL for academic difficulties in the MS programs at HU Is rarely accorded as course placements follow recommended sequences, and acceptance into the program establishes English Language proficiency as well as suitable preparation for the MS program.
- RCL for academic difficulties can only be used once per degree level. This option only covers the first semester during any program of study and students must resume full-time enrollment at the next available semester.
- If you qualify for Academic Difficulties RCL, undergraduate students must still maintain at least 3 courses in the RCL semester and graduate students must still maintain 1 executive format course per RCL semester.
Illness or Medical Condition
If you are unable to be enrolled full-time due to a serious illness or medical condition, you may apply for medical RCL. With an authorized medical RCL, students may either be enrolled in 0-9 credits (undergrad) or 0-3 credits (graduate).
To apply for this option you must provide:
- Medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist to your DSO to substantiate the illness or medical condition.
- Please show the following details to your doctor so that the documentation includes the required information. If it doesn't, we might have to ask you to obtain a new letter from your doctor. The letter must be prepared on official letterhead and signed/dated by the doctor. The letter must contain:
- In your doctor's medical opinion, it is advised that you take a reduced course load or not take any classes because of your current illness.
- Duration of time, including a beginning and end date (or indicate for the semester), that your doctor advises you reduce your course load or suspend your study due to medical reasons affecting you personally.
- If a reduction of your course load is advised, the doctor must specify whether he or she advises you to take 3/4 load, 1/2 load or 1/4 load for medical reasons.
- Students on a Medical RCL are ineligible for CPT during that semester
- Reduced Course Load for a medical condition can be granted for no more than 12 months total in a degree program; the RCL does not need to be consecutive, but it is renewable with documentation up to the 12-month total
- A DSO must authorize the drop below full time for each new semester.
- If a graduate student on medical RCL is enrolled part-time, the one course must be in executive format.
Doctoral / Dissertation Track
- If this is your final semester of coursework before the start of your dissertation phase, a DSO could approve you to register for a Reduced Course Load
- Once you have completed your coursework and begin your dissertation phase, you are required to continue to register for dissertation course credits during each semester until you graduate
How to Apply for RCL
Submit a Request for Authorization for Reduced Course Load HERE