In order to maintain lawful status, J students are required to be enrolled full-time (12+hrs) each semester unless a vacation semester has been earned or been approved for an authorized reduced course load by the ISSS. Note, only 3 online credits can count towards the full-course of study whether a graduate or undergraduate student and regardless of term. See below for delays on reduced course loads and vacation semesters. Note: In order to maintain status, the student must be granted the authorized reduced course load prior to dropping below full-time.
Academic Reduced Course Loads (1-11 credit hours)
There are limited reasons for which a student may be granted an academic reduced course load. Reasons for an academic reduced course load are:
Initial Difficulty with English Language (available in student’s 1st semester only)
Initial Difficulty with Reading Requirements (available in student’s 1st semester only)
Unfamiliarity with American Teaching Methods (available in student’s 1st semester only)
Improper Course Level Placement: an advisor suggested you enroll in a course that you cannot successfully complete
To Complete Course of Study in Current Term (available in student’s final semester only)
To request an academic reduced course load:
- Submit an academic reduced course load e-form request in iStart. In the e-form explain the reason for the reduced course load and provide the name of the appropriate Academic Advisor (undergraduates) or Graduate Coordinator (graduates)
- The e-form will be routed to the academic advisor/graduate coordinator for review. If approved, iStart will notify an OIE advisor to review the request.
- Within 5 business days, an OIE advisor will determine if the recommendation meets the criteria set by F-1 regulations and send an approval or denial email.
- Upon receiving an approval email, the student may drop below 12 credits. If the e-form is not approved, the student must stay enrolled in 12 credits or risk violating lawful status.
Medical Reduced Course Loads (0-11 credit hours)
A student experiencing a medical issue (physical or psychological) may be eligible for a medical reduced course load. A medical RCL allows students to register for 0-11 credit hours. Medical reduced course loads can be granted for no more than 12 months in the aggregate during any one course of study. The request must be approved by an International Student Advisor prior to the dropping below full-time. Medical reduced course loads are approved on a semester by semester basis. Therefore, students will need to reapply for a medical reduced course for each semester in which the problem persists.
To request a medical reduced course load:
1. Obtain the following documents from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or clinical psychologist:
- Completed Recommendation for a Reduced Course Load Due to an Illness or Medical Condition form.
- A signed, typed letter on the doctor or psychologist's letterhead. The letter must state that the doctor or psychologist does not recommend full-time enrollment due to a medical issue.
- A copy of the doctor or psychologist’s business card.
2. Login to iStart and complete the Medical Reduced Course Load e-form which includes uploading a pdf of the aforementioned documents.
3. Within 5 business days, an OIE advisor will progress the request and send an approval or denial email.
4. Upon receiving an approval email, the student may drop below 12 credits. If the e-form is not approved, the student must stay enrolled in 12 credits or risk violating lawful status.
Please Note: If you are on a medical reduced course load and do not pay student fees, you will not be automatically covered by insurance. OIE strongly recommends that you purchase insurance during this time