Reduced Course Load (RCL)

There are very few exceptions to the full-time course load rule.  Students must request approval from an F-1 international student advisor at OIP before dropping below full-time academic status.   

To obtain approval, students must submit a signed and completed Reduced Course Load (RCL) form to OIP. The RCL form must be signed by the student and the student’s academic advisor (except RCL due to the medical condition).
 
Students who drop below a full course of study without the prior approval from OIP will be considered out of status and must be reported in SEVIS. The students SEVIS record will be terminated and they will lose F-1 status and their employment eligibility and other benefits.
 
Attention Graduate Students: Read Full-Time Equivalency (FTE) if you will be working on Culminating Experience requirement and register in less than 8 units.

 

Who is eligible

RCL due to the academic difficulty is only available for students who are attending school in the US for the first time. This is a one-time only exception. Continuing students who have been attending SF State and the new students who transferred from another 4-year and 2-year institutions in the U.S. are not eligible for this exception.  Students who wish to request RCL due to academic difficulty must meet with an F-1 international student advisor at OIP and submit the RCL form in person.  The RCL form must be signed by both the student and by the student's academic advisor.  Permission from OIP MUST be obtained by university’s withdrawal deadline posted on Registrar’s website.

What do you need to know

Federal Immigration regulations define academic difficulty as:

Initial difficulty with English Language or reading requirements (First semester in the U.S. only); or Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods (First semester in the U.S. only); or improper course placement.  In some cases, students may be required to provide OIP with written proof from academic advisor explaining how they were misadvised.  Written proof must be printed on the department letterhead and sign by the academic advisor.

Once the RCL is approved, students must:

  • Register for at least 6 units (for Undergraduate) or 4 units (for graduates) in the approved semester.
  • Resume a full course of study in the next available Fall/Spring Semester in order to maintain legal student status.
  • Will not be eligible for a second RCL due to academic difficulty authorization.
  • Will be eligible for other RCLs.

How to request RCL due to academic difficulty

  1. Review the RCL due to academic difficulty information above and download RCL due to academic difficulty form (fillable PDF)
  2. Reach out to the academic advising office in your College to obtain a signature on the RCL form:
  3. Email the RCL form with signatures to f1@sfsu.edu  from your SF State email address.  We accept digital signatures, scanned copies, and high resolution/clear pictures of the completed form.  You will receive a confirmation email from OIP within 5 business days.  See deadline to submit RCL.

Who is eligible

Students may receive RCL due to medical condition if they have temporary illness which prevent them to maintain full-time study.  

What do you need to know

  • Students must request an U.S. licensed medical doctor (MD), doctor of osteopathy (DO), or licensed clinical psychologist to complete the RCL due to medical condition form, or attach an original letter from the doctor (on the doctor’s original letterhead stationary) substantiating the student’s illness or medical condition (this means a brief but detailed description of the student’s medical condition/illness).  The doctor’s letter must also recommend that the student enrolls in either 0 units or in a part-time course of study for this semester.  
  • If the student is not planning to enroll full-time due to medical condition:  The RCL due to medical condition must be approved by OIP within 2 weeks of the semester start at SF State.
  • If the student is enrolled full-time and a medical condition occurs during the semester: Contact an F-1 international student advisor at OIP immediately.
  • A reduced course load or withdrawal from SF State due to a medical condition cannot exceed a total of more than 12 months (3 academic semesters) at each degree level.  If you have filed RCL due to medical condition in the U.S. before, speak to an F-1 advisor to determine your eligibility.
  • A separate RCL due to medical condition must be completed and approved each semester if more than one semester of RCL due to medical condition is needed.
  • The student must resume a full course of study in the next available Fall/Spring semester in order to maintain legal student status unless another RCL due to medical condition is approved.
  • RCL due to medical condition will only be considered if the request is submitted BEFORE the end of the semester in which the student wishes to be part-time. 
  • RCL due to medical condition cannot be approved retroactively.

When to submit RCL due to the medical condition:

STATUS ACTION DEADLINE
Will not enroll full time at the start of the semester due to medical conditiony Must submit Medical RCL form by deadline or Medical RCL will not be approved / I-20 will be terminated Semester Add Drop Deadline
Enrolled full time by add/drop deadline, but will need to withdraw from courses during the semester due to medical condition  Must submit Medical RCL form and receive approval before deadline/ before withdrawing from courses Last day of Finals

How to request RCL due to medical condition

  1. Review the RCL medical condition information above and download the RCL due to medical condition Form (fillable PDF)
  2. Email f1@sfsu.edu to schedule a Zoom appointment with an F-1 international student advisor

Who is eligible?

Reduced Course Load (RCL) completion of study is used for 
  • Undergraduate Students in their last semester to complete their programs of study at SF State
  • Graduate students when they have used up their Full Time Equivalency (FTE) twice

What do you need to know

  • It is a one-time only exception.
  • It can only be approved for Spring or Fall semester.  If you are graduating in Summer, you must maintain full-time status in Spring.  Also, if you have an approved RCL due to completion of study in Spring, you must graduate in Spring, not Summer.   
  • All your remaining courses must be taken at SF State.  No concurrent enrollment at another institution is allowed.
  • If you only have one course to complete the program in the Spring or Fall semester, it cannot be an online course.  A hybrid course is acceptable.
  • All the remaining courses must be SF State graduation requirement.  This RCL will not be approved for students who wish to take non-required courses for other purposes (i.e. raise GPA or just for personal enrichment).

How to request RCL due to completion of study

  1. Review the RCL Completion of Study information above and download RCL due to completion of study form (fillable PDF)
  2. Reach out to Academic Advisor in your Major department to obtain signature on RCL form to confirm major units needed for graduation
  3. Graduate students go to step 4.
    Undergraduate students: Reach out to the academic advising office in your College to obtain a signature on the same RCL form to confirm General Education (GE) units needed for graduation:
  4. Email the RCL form with signatures to f1@sfsu.edu  from your SF State email address.  We accept digital signatures, scanned copies, and high resolution/clear pictures of the completed form.  You will receive a confirmation email from OIP within 5 business days.  See deadline to submit RCL.

Graduate Students

If you have been approved for Full-Time Equivalency (FTE) for your "grace semester" and will continue to work on the Culminating Experience after your "grace semester" ends, you must submit RCL due to completion of study. 
 
You RCL form must be signed by one of your committee members.  Also, you must also complete the following steps before submitting the RCL form to OIP:
  1. Clear the Health Insurance Hold: Purchase and maintain SF State sponsored health insurance for the entire semester, and
  2. Register for one for CEL 499 courses under your college name, and
  3. Apply for graduation at your Student Center (You can apply for graduation after semester starts)

 

Last updated: May 2020