Completing the Reduced Credit Load Form (Academic Advisors/F-1)

Instructions to complete the e-form

  1. Scroll down to the bold heading “Academic Advisor Review.” Fill in all of the required fields, marked with an asterisk (*).
  2. Depending on which reason you select, additional required fields may appear. This is true for “Academic difficulty” and “Final semester.”
  3. When you click “Submit,” your e-form request will be automatically emailed to ISSS for review. Your part of the process is complete, but the international student will need to wait to drop below full time until the e-form has been approved by ISSS.

Preview

If you are on campus or connected to the CSU network, you can click here to see a preview of the form.

Tips

Regulations

8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A)-(E)

International students must carry a full academic course load each semester in order to maintain F-1 immigration status.

  • Undergraduate Students: Must carry a minimum of 12 credits per semester (fall/spring) to be considered full time. Must take at least 9 credits of on-campus (RI) coursework toward the 12-credit minimum. For immigration purposes, courses offered through CSU Online or with a section number between 400 and 499 will not count toward the RI minimum.
  • Graduate Students: Must carry a minimum of 9 credits per semester (fall/spring) to be considered full time. Must take at least 6 credits of on-campus (RI) coursework toward the 9-credit minimum. For immigration purposes, courses offered through CSU Online or with a section number between 400 and 499 will not count toward the RI minimum.

There are very few exceptions for students to drop below full time, and not all options are available to all students. A student who feels they cannot maintain a full course of study may request a reduced course load (RCL) if the reason meets the criteria outlined in the Qualifying Exceptions below. A request for a reduced course load must be supported by the academic advisor or licensed medical professional and authorized by International Student and Scholar Services BEFORE dropping any classes. Failure to do so will affect their immigration status.

Qualifying Exceptions

Academic Difficulty

  • Initial Difficulty with English Language or Reading Requirements (1st year only)
  • Unfamiliarity with U.S. Teaching Methods (1st year only)
  • Improper Course Level Placement (requires explanation from the academic advisor)

Please Note:

  • An Academic Difficulty RCL can only be granted once per educational/degree level. If a student has already been granted an RCL for academic difficulty (even at another school) at the current academic level, they cannot be approved for another academic difficulty RCL.
  • The student must still be enrolled for a minimum of 6 credits for undergraduates or 5 credits for graduates.
  • Students who are granted an RCL for academic difficulty are expected to resume a full course of study in the next available semester (with the exception of the summer term).

Nearing Graduation

  • Final semester of required coursework and taking all available courses to meet graduation requirements
  • Completed required coursework and preparing for comprehensive examination (graduate students only)
  • Completed required coursework and working on thesis/dissertation (graduate students only)

Please Note:

  • Students registered for Continuous Registration (CR), who are working on their thesis/dissertation, are considered to be carrying a full academic load and can be authorized for an RCL. Students who have been approved for an RCL for thesis/dissertation do not need to submit another form each semester. The approval will continue through the student’s graduation or until the end date of the student’s current I-20 (whichever comes first).
  • Students applying for a program extension who need the reduced credit load to continue will have to submit a new Reduced Credit Load form with their program extension request.

Medical Exception

  • Students should fill out and submit the paper-based medical Reduced Credit Load form instead.
  • The student may request a reduced credit load, due to a temporary illness or medical condition. It is limited to a period of time not to exceed a total of 12 months, at each degree level. Requires a signature from a licensed medical doctor or clinical psychologist and recommendation of the number of credits the student should take. The student must be re-authorized for the Medical RCL each semester that it applies.

Additional Information

  • The e-form defaults to “Yes” for the first question, “I approve this student for a reduced credit load.” This does not mean you are required to choose yes or approve the reduced credit load; however, you are asked to provide an explanation if you do not approve it and may receive communication from the ISSS office for further clarification. You may reach out to ISSS if you are unsure whether or not to approve the Reduced Credit Load.
  • The Reduced Credit Load will not go away if you do not take any action, and you will continue to receive automated reminder emails from ISSS until you approve or deny the e-form. This is because in most cases, the Reduced Credit Load request is very time sensitive. You may reach out to ISSS if you are unsure whether or not to approve the Reduced Credit Load.
  • If you select “Academic Difficulty,” three subcategories will become available: “Initial Difficulty with English Language or Reading Requirements,” “Unfamiliarity with U.S. Teaching Methods,” and “Improper Course Level Placement.” Improper Course Level Placement does require an additional explanation, but does not necessarily reflect improper advising regarding course selection.
  • If you select “Student is in the final semester of required coursework and taking all available courses to meet graduation requirements,” you will be required to indicate how many credits the student has left to complete. If the student is not able to register in all credits during the semester selected, an additional explanation will be required.
  • “Thesis/Dissertation” should only be selected when all required coursework has been completed. If the student has required coursework left to complete, another reason such as “Improper Course Level Placement” or “Final semester” should be used. You may reach out to ISSS if you are unsure which reason to use.

The international student will receive an email from ISSS once their Reduced Credit Load has been approved. They should not drop below full time until they have received final approval from ISSS.