Academic Reduced Course Load (RCL)

Students in F-1 status who are experiencing academic difficulty may be eligible for an Academic Reduced Course Load (RCL). An Academic RCL allows a student with a valid academic reason to drop below full-time enrollment. Students authorized for an Academic RCL must maintain at least half-time enrollment to maintain their F-1 status.

  • Initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements (available only in a student’s first academic year of study in the U.S.).
  • Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods (available only in a student’s first academic year of study in the U.S.)
  • Improper course level placement (in most cases this is only available if a student has enrolled in a course for which they do not meet the minimum prerequisites. Special circumstances may be considered).

Sometimes students have attended high school, college, or university in the U.S. prior to attending CU. These students most likely would not be eligible for an Academic RCL. A student is considered to be in their “initial term” if the student is in their first academic year of study in the U.S. If you are unsure whether it is the student’s first year studying in the U.S., please consult with an ISSS advisor.

A student in F-1 status can be authorized for an Academic RCL once per degree level.

If a student wants to request a reduced course load because they require a less than full-time course load to complete their degree requirements in their final semester, the student should complete the Confirmation of Final Semester e-form (available in MyISSS portal).

No more than 3 online credit hours per semester may count towards the student’s full-time enrollment requirement.

The F-1 regulations place a limit on the number of online credits that can count toward the student’s full-time enrollment requirement. At most, 3 online credit hours can be counted toward a student’s full-time enrollment requirement. This includes enrollment in hybrid courses. Hybrid courses with an in-person component can count as in-person credits. However, if a student enrolls in a hybrid course, they must attend in-person and be prepared to document that in-person attendance.

No. In order to avoid violating the terms of their F-1 status a student must first receive a new I-20 with an Academic RCL authorization from ISSS before they drop below a full course of study.

In addition, ISSS places a Drop Advising Required hold on international student records each semester after the drop deadline. The hold requires that students first consult with an ISSS advisor before dropping a class to ensure that a student does not accidentally fall out of status. An ISSS advisor will need to manually remove the Drop Advising Required hold before a student can drop individual courses after the drop deadline.

While ISSS does not set a specific deadline, an ISSS Advisor will reach out to second approvers who have not signed the e-form after 3 business days. ISSS cannot review and authorize the Academic RCL until we have received a completed Academic RCL Request e-form that includes confirmation from the second approver.