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Full-Time Enrollment Exceptions

Under special circumstances, you can request an exception to the full-time enrollment requirement.

As an F-1 student you are required by federal regulations to enroll in a full-time course load each fall and spring semester. There are some exceptions to this rule that may allow you to obtain authorization for under-enrollment. Make sure you are aware of the requirements and read the instructions below carefully! Often times, this is the area in which F-1 students make a mistakes which result in loss of their F-1 status.

If you are experiencing academic difficulties for one of the reasons listed below you may request approval to drop below full-time.

  • You are having initial difficulties in a degree program and need time to adjust to the American classroom, the English language, or intensive reading materials
  • You were improperly placed or advised into a course

You may request approval for under-enrollment for the reasons stated above by completing the iStart e-form Reduced Course Load (Academic Reason).

If you are in your final semester of study, you may be authorized to enroll only in the credit hours necessary to complete your degree.

By definition, this type of authorization may only be granted once.

If authorized for this reason, your I-20 record will be updated to reflect authorized under-enrollment and a shortened program end date.

You may request approval for last semester under-enrollment by completing the iStart e-form Reduced Course Load (Academic Reason).

If you have completed all the required coursework for your degree and you are now only working on research for a final project, dissertation or thesis, you are required to enroll in research credits or matriculation maintenance hours.

You may request approval for this reason by completing the iStart e-form Reduced Course Load (Academic Reason).

If you have an injury, an illness, or mental health concerns that prevent course attendance, you can request approval to enroll in a reduced course load or withdraw from courses completely for a given semester. Documentation from a U.S. licensed medical doctor or a licensed clinical psychologist, and authorization from ISSS is required.

Guidelines and requirements for medical documentation 

  • Letter must be on official company letterhead
  • Letter must be dated
  • Statement should clarify whether a total withdrawal from courses is recommended or
    whether only partial withdrawal is recommended
  • Letter must include the timeframe/dates of the recommended reduced course load
  • Letter must also include printed name and credentials of individual signing the letter
    • Must be from a licensed Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Osteopathy (DO), or Clinical Psychology (LCP or Ph.D.)

You may request approval for under-enrollment due to medical reasons by completing the iStart e-form Reduced Course Load (Medical Reason).

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 Last Modified 4/9/21