Academic Reduced Course Load

Students seeking to enroll part-time must apply for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) in order to maintain legal status. There are only specific reasons that a student may be authorized by ISSS to enroll part-time.

Final Semester of Study

Government regulations state that an international student may be authorized for a Reduced Course Load in the student’s final semester of study “if fewer courses are needed to complete the course of study.” If a student is approved for an RCL based on final semester of study, the student only needs to enroll in the number of credits and appropriate courses needed to graduate.

Procedure

It is important to discuss your plans with your academic advisor. This type of RCL requires documentation from a divisional academic advisor. The advisor will verify that you are on track to complete your degree at the end of the semester for which you are requesting an RCL.

Timing

Students requesting an RCL based on final semester of study or thesis/dissertation should apply preferably by the start of classes. ISSS will start review of submitted requests during the first week of the semester.

In order to collect the most accurate information from students and academic advising, the the Reduced Course Load-- Academic e-form is available for submission: August 1 - September 30 (Fall Semester) and January 1 - February 28 (Spring Semester). 

Graduate Students Who Have Completed Required Coursework

International graduate students with research or thesis requirements are eligible to apply for an RCL based on completion of all required coursework. Despite completion of required coursework, graduate students must continue to enroll while completing their thesis, dissertation, or final project. If a graduate student does not have a graduate assistantship or other form of tuition waiver, the student may decide to enroll in a 2-credit hour thesis course instead.

Please note students with graduate assistantships are required to enroll full-time or must petition and receive permission from the Graduate School to enroll part-time. ISSS requires Graduate School approval prior to review of this request.

Procedure

It is important to discuss your plans with your academic department. This type of RCL requires documentation from an academic advisor or department chair. Generally, your department also needs to assist you with enrollment in the 2-credit hour course.

Timing

Students may be approved to enroll in the 2-credit hour course for up to two semesters (not including summer). If the student wishes to request additional semesters of 2 credits beyond the standard two semesters, approval from the Dean of the Graduate School will be required. Graduate students should apply preferably for the RCL by the start of classes and no later than the end of the second week of classes in the semester for which they are seeking an RCL.

Academic Difficulty

Government regulations state that a student may be authorized for a Reduced Course Load due to “a student’s initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods, or improper course level placement.”

Procedure

It is important to discuss your situation and eligibility with an ISSS advisor before applying. In order to apply, we recommend coming in and meeting with us. Please note that final approval will come from ISSS and requests based on academic difficulties due to failure to attend class will not be approved.

Timing

  • Students may only be authorized for an RCL based on academic difficulty once per program level
  • Students must continue to enroll in at least 6 credit hours (or 9 clock hours for Language Training students) during the semester in which they are authorized for the RCL
  • RCLs for initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, or unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods will only be granted during a student’s first semester of study at Miami University
  • RCL for improper course level placement could be granted at any point during the student’s degree program as long as the student has not previously been authorized for an RCL based on academic difficulty

When to Apply for a Reduced Course Load

Students seeking to drop below full-time enrollment should apply for the RCL prior to dropping coursework or withdrawing. Students must keep in mind the deadlines for dropping a course and receiving a “W” on their transcript. These dates can always be found on the Registrar’s website under Academic Calendars.

If approved, the RCL will be for the entire duration of the semester, even if the authorization is not granted until partway through the semester. For example, if the RCL is requested and approved in October, authorization will be given for the start of fall semester through the end of fall semester. 

The Reduced Course Load- Academic e-form is available for submission: August 1- September 30 (Fall Semester) and January 1 - February 28 (Spring Semester)

If a student needs to submit a request outside of this timeline, please contact ISSS advisors at International@MiamiOH.edu and you will be helped! Students seeking to drop below full-time enrollment should apply for the RCL prior to dropping coursework or withdrawing. Students must keep in mind the deadlines for dropping a course and receiving a “W” on their transcript. These dates can be found on the Academic Calendar. If approved, the RCL will be for the entire duration of the semester, even if the authorization is not granted until partway through the semester. For example, if the RCL is requested and approved in October, authorization will be given from the start through the end of fall semester.

How to Apply for a Reduced Course Load

  1. Discuss the situation with a divisional academic advisor and ISSS as appropriate.
  2. Log in to your Interlink account (click the blue login button) using your unique ID and password. Complete one of the following e-forms depending on your situation:
    • Reduced Course Load Request—Academic” e-form. Note that your academic advisor will need to review your request after you submit the e-form. Your advisor will receive an email message from ISSS which will provide a link to review your request.
  3. After your advisor comments on your e-form request, ISSS will review your request. You will be contacted by email after your request is processed. If you are eligible for an RCL, ISSS will process your RCL authorization in SEVIS and send you an email notification. If your RCL was based on final semester of study, your I-20 end date will be shortened to the end date of the given semester and a new I-20 will be printed for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

May I request an RCL based on poor academic performance? What if I’m in danger of suspension?

Government regulations do not allow for an RCL based on poor academic performance. If you are struggling in one or more courses, you will not be authorized for an RCL based on this reason alone. If it is your first semester at Miami University, you may want to explore the possibility of an RCL based on academic difficulty. If you are experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression, you may want to consider seeing a counselor at Student Counseling Service.

If none of these options is appropriate for your situation, you will have to make a decision between staying in the course and potentially failing it or dropping the course and losing your legal status. This is a complex issue and we urge you to discuss your situation with an ISSS advisor before making a decision. Please call 513-529-8600 or utilize Miami’s online scheduling system to make an appointment.

What will happen if I drop below full-time and am not eligible for a Reduced Course Load?

If you drop below full-time enrollment without authorization for an RCL, you will be in danger of losing your legal status. Generally, you will be given a short period of time (no more than 21 days) to add credits to bring your total back up to the required minimum (12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 for graduate students). If you fail to do so, your SEVIS record will be terminated and you will lose your legal status. You will be expected to depart the U.S. immediately or apply for reinstatement of status (if eligible).

If I fail a course and don’t earn 12 credits, do I lose my F-1 legal status?

No. As long as you remain enrolled in at least 12 credits, you are considered to be maintaining your status, even if you fail one or more courses. However, you may eventually face academic suspension due to a low GPA if you continue to fail your courses. If you are suspended, you will lose your F-1 legal status at that point.

What if I am authorized for an RCL based on final semester of study, but I fail to graduate?

If you have been authorized for an RCL based on final semester and realize that you are not likely to graduate, you will first need to request an extension of your I-20 at least one week before the expiration date. Assuming ISSS is able to extend your I-20 for an additional semester, you will then need to request an RCL for final semester again for the additional semester. This scenario will require additional scrutiny from ISSS as we examine why you were not able to graduate and how likely you are to graduate after an additional semester. Note that an RCL for final semester can never be granted more than twice. If you fail to graduate in a semester for which you were granted an RCL based on final semester, you will only have one more semester to complete your degree. If you fail to graduate after a second semester of RCL, you will lose your F-1 status.

What if I retroactively withdrawal from courses after the end of the semester?

Please do not ever do this without speaking to an ISSS advisor first, as it may put your legal F-1 status in danger.

Do audited classes count toward full-time enrollment? What about credit/no credit?

Audited courses do not count toward full-time enrollment. Courses taken as credit/no credit, however, do count toward full-time enrollment.

Graduate students: If I have already used one or more semesters of RCL based on completion of required coursework, can I just enroll full-time in order to “save” additional semesters of RCL for the future?

No. Once you are granted an RCL based on completion of required coursework, your RCL “clock” has begun and you cannot reverse it. RCLs based on completion of required coursework are authorized based on the understanding that you have only thesis/dissertation remaining and only need at most 2 more semesters (excluding summer) to complete your degree requirements. While you would not be prohibited from enrolling in extra credit hours after being approved for an RCL, doing so will not allow you to have additional time to complete your degree or to “save” additional RCLs for future semesters.

Am I eligible for an RCL if I transferred to Miami?

Your eligibility for RCLs is tied to your degree level. For example:

  • If you were authorized for an RCL based on academic difficulty while pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at another U.S. institution and then transferred to Miami University to complete your Bachelor’s degree, you would not be eligible for another RCL based on academic difficulty at that degree level.
  • If you used 6 months of RCL for medical reasons while pursuing a Master’s degree elsewhere in the U.S., you would have 6 months of RCL for medical reasons left if you transferred to Miami University to complete your Master’s degree.

Can I work on campus when I have an RCL?

Immigration regulations do not prohibit you from working on campus during a period of an authorized RCL. However, you will need to think seriously about your ability to spend time working on campus, depending on the basis for your RCL. If you have medical or mental health issues, it may be difficult or impossible for you to work. If you are having academic difficulties, ISSS would strongly urge you to spend your time on your coursework rather than working on campus. In addition, Miami University policies require students to be enrolled in a certain number of credits in order to be eligible to work on campus. For more information, contact the Student Employment or Academic Personnel offices.

Do I have access to university facilities like Counseling, Health Services, or the gym when I'm approved for an RCL?

It depends. Some of Miami’s services are funded through fees or are only available to full-time students. If you are not enrolled full-time or being charged the relevant fee, this may cause you to lose access. To confirm the policy, please check with the relevant offices.

It's my final semester/term, and I only need one class to graduate—can I take it online or at another university?

No. During your final semester/term, you must enroll in at least one “in-person” course at Miami University. This includes summer and winter term if you will complete your degree during one of these terms.

If you plan to take your final course online, you must depart the U.S. and complete your degree from outside the U.S. In this scenario, please note that you will lose your eligibility for OPT.