Reduced Course Load

I need to drop a course! What should I do?

1.Will dropping this course leave you under-enrolled?

If dropping the course will not result in your enrollment going below 12 credit hours (9 for graduates) then you are allowed to drop it. If you are an undergraduate, it is your responsibility to be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours. Please see the Maintaining F-1 and J-1 Status web page for more information.

2.Dropping this course will leave me under-enrolled, is that ok?

You must discuss this with your Academic Advisor and the CIS. In order to get CIS approval, you and your advisor will need to complete the Academic Exception to a Full Course of Study. DO NOT drop a course that will leave you under-enrolled without prior CIS approval.

3. What are some reasons that I could be approved to enroll in fewer than 12 (or 9) credit hours?

There are very specific rules about when it is appropriate for a student to be under-enrolled. Because your primary purpose in the U.S. is to make progress toward your degree, the rules about it are very strict.

You may qualify for a reduced course load if you:

  • Have initial difficulties with English in your first or second semester in the U.S. (you may qualify for one semester of reduced course load, one time only)
  • Have initial difficulties with American teaching methods in your first or second semester in the U.S. (you may qualify for one semester of reduced course load, one time only)
  • Have initial difficulties with the reading requirements in your first or second semester in the U.S. (you may qualify for one semester of reduced course load, one time only)
  • Are improperly placed in a course level that is too advanced for you (you may qualify for one semester of reduced course load, one time only)
  • Are in your final semester and plan to graduate at the end of that semester. (You may do this even if you have had a reduced course load for one of the previous reasons)
  • Have an extremely serious medical issue that prevents you from studying. See Medical Reduced Courseload page for more information.

4. How do I apply for a reduced course load?

The application and instructions for academic reasons are available here. For medical reasons see the Medical Reduced Courseload page.

5. I want to take a semester off and do an internship; do I qualify for a reduced course load?

No, you must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours during the regular semester and have approved Curricular Practical Training (CPT) through the CIS. You can find more information about that here.

6. I only have a few courses left to finish my degree, but they are not offered in the same semester. Can I take a reduced course load twice?

Unfortunately, you cannot plan to have two final semesters. USCIS does not consider scheduling and course availability to be sufficient reason to be under-enrolled. You will need to enroll in additional courses to make sure that you are maintaining full-time status.

7. I am finished with courses but was not able to complete my capstone/thesis in the previous semester. Is it ok if I am not enrolled in any courses while I am completing my final projects?

Once coursework requiring your physical presence in the United States has been completed, USCIS considers your program to be completed. Thesis, capstone, and dissertation projects are not considered to require your physical presence. If you are no longer required to be present on Truman’s campus, you cannot stay in the U.S. simply to complete a project. However, completion of coursework means  you qualify for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) even if your capstone isn’t finished. For more information about what to do in this situation, contact the CIS. For more information about post-completion OPT, click here.

8. If I take courses at other schools while I am at Truman, does that count toward my full-time enrollment?

Yes, as long as at least half of your credit hours are at Truman and no more than three of your credits are from an online course. You must get prior approval from the CIS and provide us with proof on enrollment in your other institution.

9. Are all students allowed a reduced course load during their last semester?

Yes, all students are permitted to have a reduced course load in their final semester, provided they are NOT enrolled in only online courses. If it is your final semester, complete the reduced course load form with your advisor and return it to the CIS.

10. I am in my last semester with only one more course to take. Can my final course be online?

No, immigration regulations require that the student’s be physical presence be required for credit bearing courses. The reason is that you could take an online course from anywhere in the world, therefore an online course does not require your physical presence in the United States. In this case you would need to apply for OPT. For more information about post-completion OPT, click here.

11. I have a medical condition; do I qualify for a reduced course load?

Serious medical conditions may qualify for a medical reduced course load. You can find the medical reduced course load information here. To qualify for this, you will need a diagnosis from a Clinical Psychologist, Medical Doctor (MD) or Osteopathic Physician (DO) describing why your medical condition prevents you from studying and for approximately how long. You can use the Lewer website to find physicians who accept your insurance. The CIS may request additional information before making a decision.

12. How many times can I take a medical reduced course load?

Regulations permit 12 months of medical reduced course load. This can mean up to three semesters, at the discretion of the CIS. However, your Lewer insurance will only cover you for one semester away from campus.

13. I am pregnant/I broke my ankle/I have terrible allergies. Do I qualify for a medical reduced course load?

No, generally these are considered routine medical issues and would not qualify for a reduced course load. However, if serious complications arise you can consult with your doctor and the CIS to explore your options.

14. A family member is ill or has passed away; do I qualify for a reduced course load?

No, unfortunately only your own medical issues can qualify for a reduced course load. USCIS does not consider caring for a family member or mourning a loss to be sufficient reason to be under-enrolled. For any emotional issue, please seek help from the University Counseling Services in the McKinney Center. If you believe your emotional distress will prevent you from making progress in your studies, contact a licensed clinical psychologist for a diagnosis and discuss the matter with the CIS.

15. I am under-enrolled and all classes are full, what do I do?

Contact your academic advisor and the CIS immediately.