International Student Services

Reduced Course Load (RCL) for Specific Academic Reasons

Your ISS adviser can authorize you to drop a course and have part-time enrollment for an academic reason. These are the reasons allowed by the F-1 regulations:

  • Initial difficulty with the English language
  • Initial difficulty with reading requirements
  • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
  • Improper course level placement

ISS advisers can only authorize an academic RCL in coordination with your academic adviser or course professor/instructor. We in ISS are not academic advisers; we do not have expert knowledge about your course curriculum or performance in your course. We require information from an academic adviser or course professor/instructor to assess your eligibility for part-time enrollment.

  • You must request the RCL and receive approval from your ISS adviser by the end of the quarter in which you want to drop the course.
  • An academic RCL is only allowed one quarter per degree level.
  • You will receive a new I-20 if your ISS adviser approves your RCL request.

How to Apply

    1. Consult your course instructor or academic adviser about your difficulties in the course. Explain that because of your F-1 status, you must obtain special permission to drop a course if you will be part-time after the course drop. It might be helpful to print this page to share with them or email them a link to this information.
    2. Ask your academic adviser or course instructor if they would support your request to ISS for a reduced course load for academic reasons. They may or may not assess that you meet the criteria to drop the course. If they support your request, continue to step 3.
    3. Complete the online request below (you should receive a confirmation email upon successful submission). Your application is sent to your academic advisor or course instructor for their approval before it is considered a “complete” application.

Request a Reduced Course Load for Academic Reasons

See the ISS Policies and Procedures page for current processing times. An advisor will contact you when the request is processed. If approved, your ISS advisor will also give you instructions for dropping your courses.