International Student and Scholar Services

Reduced Course Load (RCL)

International students must enroll full-time to maintain their international student status. In certain cases, students may request authorization to under-enroll by requesting a Reduced Course Load (RCL) authorization.

Review the information below for RCL requests. For more information regarding full-time enrollment, please see our enrollment requirements webpage.

Types of Reduced Course Load (RCL) Requests:

  • Illness or medical conditions — allows international students to engage in less than a full-time course of study due to their temporary illness or medical condition for a period not to exceed 12 months while they are pursuing a course of study at a particular program level. There is no enrollment minimum requirement.
  • Academic difficulties — allows international students in their first semester in the U.S. to under-enroll, but no less than part-time (half full-time), for the following reasons:
    • Initial difficulties with the English language.
    • Initial difficulties with reading requirements.
    • Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods.
    • Improper course level placement.
  • Completion of course of study — allows international students to enroll less than full-time in their final semester, to complete only the remaining required courses to satisfy the requirements of graduation. Students must be enrolled in at least one credit.


  • Student is currently in valid F-1 student status.
  • Student must meet all necessary requirements for requested category, including any minimum enrollment requirements.
  • Reasons for ineligibility:
    • Illness or medical conditions: If a student has had a previous RCL due to illness or medical condition for 12 months, the student is not eligible for another RCL due to illness or medical condition while pursuing a course of study at the same program level.
    • Academic difficulties: If a student has had a previous RCL due to academic difficulties, the student is not eligible for a second RCL due to academic difficulties while pursuing a course of study at the same program level.
    • Completion of course of study: If a student does not complete their program of study after a second RCL for completion of course of study, the student is not eligible for a third.

Key Points

  • RCL requests should be submitted no later than 1-2 weeks before the semester begins.
  • You may wish to speak with your academic advisor prior to submitting your request to discuss how it may affect progress in your academic program and to register for the appropriate courses.
  • International students may not drop below full-time without receiving PRIOR authorization from International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS).
  • Reduced Course Load authorizations are granted per semester. International students must resume a full course of study or apply for another authorization to under-enroll in the next semester to maintain F-1 student status.
    • An international student authorized for an RCL for academic difficulties while pursuing a course of study at a particular program level may still be authorized an RCL due to an illness or medical condition.
    • An international student may be re-authorized an RCL for a reason of illness or medical condition for an additional semester if the total authorization time does not exceed 12 months.  The international student must re-apply each term and provide current medical documentation showing a continuation of treatment.
  • An international student may continue to work on-campus while approved for an RCL if the employment will not interfere with the student’s academic studies. The student must be enrolled in at least one credit.
  • For completion of course of study, if only one course remains to finish degree requirements, the course cannot be taken through online or distance education, unless there is a physical presence requirement for the course (hybrid/hyflex).  The course must be taken through St. Cloud State University.

Application Procedures

  1. Discuss your plan to request a Reduced Course Load (RCL) with your academic advisor and register for any required courses.
  2. Complete the Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request Form
    • You may also access the form by visiting and sign in with your student Office365 account. Select the "Reduced Course Load (RCL) Form" in "Forms I can Submit". You may view the status of your request from the forms dashboard throughout the process.
    • Please read through our step-by-step user guide (PDF)
    • This form will allow you to request an RCL authorization for one of the following reasons:
      • Illness or Medical Condition
        • The student must provide a written statement from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist recommending a reduced course load on official letterhead and include the following details:
          • Full name of the student
          • Description of the student’s illness or medical condition and how it interferes with the student’s studies.
          • Recommendation that the student takes a reduced course load or no courses at all
          • The specific term for which a reduced course load is recommended.
          • Original signature and date
          • Practice address and phone number
      • Academic Difficulties
        • The academic advisor will be required to provide a written statement describing the circumstances, as well as confirmation of the course/s to be dropped/withdrawn.
        • If authorized, the student must remain enrolled at least part-time.
      • Completion of Course of Study
        • The student must be in the final semester of their program.
        • The student must be registered for the remaining required courses prior to form submission. The academic advisor will be required to confirm it is the student’s final term and that the student is enrolled in the remaining courses for degree completion.
        • If also participating in Curricular Practical Training (CPT), a student may include an RCL for completion of course of study within the CPT request form. An additional RCL request is not needed.
  3. Once the form is submitted, the review process will begin. You will receive e-mail updates at each stage of the review process. RCL requests require review and recommendations by the following people or groups:
    1. Academic Advisor (options 2-3)
    2. ISSS Review (options 1-2)
    3. International Student Advisor (DSO) Final Review
      • Processing time is an estimated 5-7 business days once it is with a DSO. During peak times of the semester, processing time may be delayed due to the high volume of applications.
  4. If approved, the international student advisor (DSO) will authorize an RCL for the semester. You will be notified in a final e-mail if your request is approved. An updated I-20 showing the RCL authorization on page 2 will be attached in the final approval e-mail.

If you need general assistance, please reach out to our office by e-mail at or call 320-308-4287.

For specific questions/concerns once your request is submitted, please reach out to International Student & Scholar Services by e-mail at

Due to the high volume of applications, processing times may be more than seven business days.

Applications will be processed in the order in which they are received.

Processing does not begin until a complete application is submitted.