Reduced Course Load Request Form
Procedure for F-1 international students wishing to apply for a reduced course load
What is a reduced course load?
A student enrolled in less than a full-course of study. Federal regulations allow for a reduced course load (RCL) in limited
instances if approved by a Designated School Official (DSO).
What is full-time enrollment status?
An international student on an F-1 visa is legally required to maintain full-time enrollment during the fall and spring
semesters. F-1 students are not required to enroll in classes during the annual summer break or scheduled college
recesses. However, if a student starts in February, March, or April, they must enroll as a full-time student (6 credits or
equivalent in the Intensive English Program). Please note that students may only count a maximum of one online,
distance education or telecourse toward full-time enrollment. Full time at ECC is defined as:
• 12 semester hours minimum per semester for college-level classes
• 20 clock hours per week per session for the Intensive English Program
What are the consequence of dropping below a full course load?
An F-1 student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the DSO will be considered out of
status pursuant to 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(6)(iii). Falling out of F-1 status is a very serious violation of your responsibilities as an
international student, and it can have long-term consequences on your immigration benefits in the U.S. A student who is
out of status is no longer eligible for benefits such as practical training, on-campus employment, and travel signatures to
re-enter the U.S. If a student fails to rectify their status, they are at risk of being deported and/or being unable to secure
visas to enter the U.S. in the future.
Prior Approval Requirement
Reduced course load requests must be received at least two weeks before you anticipate reducing your course load. You
must verify that your RCL request has been approved prior to registering for less than a full course load and/or before
dropping a course that will result in less than a full course load. Submission of this form does not guarantee a RCL
request will be approved. Please note that a reduced course load based on financial need is not a qualifying reason.
Special Documentation Required
1. Students seeking an RCL during their final semester must submit a verification letter and education plan from the
International Academic Advisor.
2. Students seeking an RCL for academic difficulty must present a typed letter from the International Academic
Advisor verifying the need for an RCL. Students enrolled in the Intensive English Program who request an RCL
based on initial difficulties with the English language must submit a letter from the Director of the Intensive
English Program verifying this need.
3. Students with a temporary, serious medical condition may apply for an RCL based on medical necessity provided
they submit a letter recommending an RCL from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed
clinical psychologist, to the DSO to substantiate the illness or medical condition. The letter cannot be dated more than
30 days before the start of the semester for which the RCL is requested. All letters must days adhere to the following:
• Typed on physician’s letterhead, dated, signed by the physician and clearly state the physician’s contact
• State that full-time enrollment is not advisable due to a medical condition for a specific semester.
• Specify a recommended number of enrollment hours for the semester the RCL is requested.
• Indicate a date the student is expected to resume a full course load. Please note an RCL for medical reasons
cannot exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program
level. If an RCL is requested beyond one semester, a student must submit a new request form and updated
Center for International Education and Programs at Elgin Community College | 1700 Spartan Drive, B105 | Elgin, IL 60123
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: +1.847.214.7809 | Fax: +1.847.931.4897