Skip to main content

Reducing Your Course Load

Reducing Your Course Load Authorization (RCL)

Immigration regulations permit exceptions to the full-time registration requirement in very limited circumstances and only with prior approval from ISSS. This is known as a Reduced Course Load (RCL) Authorization, which is a request for permission to go below the full-time enrollment requirement. Students who drop below full-time without approval from ISSS will have their SEVIS records terminated, jeopardizing their ability to stay in the US.


The section below details the scenarios in which a student can request a RCL:

RCL for Academic Reasons

Academic reasons for dropping below full-time include improper course placement, initial English language difficulties, or in cases when full-time enrollment would not be academically appropriate. An academic adviser must recommend the RCL. RCLs for academic reasons may be approved for only one semester during the student's degree program. Students should consider this carefully before requesting an approved reduced enrollment for academic reasons since it can only be used once.

RCL for Medical Reasons

Students may drop below full-time for physical or mental health reasons. The RCL must be recommended by a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist. Students with health problems can contact the Health Center for care or referral.  RCLs for health reasons may be approved for no more than a cumulative period of 12 months during the student’s degree program. Approvals will be given for only one semester at a time, thus continuing health problems may need more than one approval if it continues beyond one semester.

RCL for Final Semester

Students completing their remaining degree requirements can enroll less than full-time in their final term. If, for example, you have only one class remaining to graduate, you may be approved for a RCL to complete your final class.

Note: your final class cannot be an online/distance education course; if it is, you must supplement that course with a traditional course.

Students who have completed all formal coursework and are engaged only in thesis/dissertation research must also request Reduced Course Load Authorization with the ISSS office in order to remain certified for full-time enrollment. See process below.


  1. Submit the ISSS request form. Note: If you are working on thesis, you must also complete the Graduate School’s Request for Full-Time Status Form (Porches >> Graduate School >> Graduate Forms >> Graduate Student Certification).
  2. ISSS will review your request and verify the reason for the drop with your advisor and if eligible update your I-20 to reflect the RCL.
  3. You and your advisor will be notified by e-mail when this process is complete and your I-20s are ready to be issued.

Do not drop below full-time without receiving notification of your RCL approval. Doing so may result in the termination of your SEVIS record.


International Student and Scholar Services

Rike Center
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469