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An academic RCL is authorization for F-1 or J-1 students who are eligible to enroll in less than 12 units during a Fall, Winter, or Spring quarter due to an academic situation. Students must apply and receive RCL authorization from the UC San Diego International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) before dropping to less than 12 units. Review all steps below to understand how to request RCL and how it may affect your status.



Students may qualify for an academic RCL based on one of the following situations:

  1. Initial difficulty with the English language and/or with reading requirements (during student's first academic yearOR
  2. Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods (during student's first academic year) OR
  3. Withdrawal from a course due to improper course level placement (you will be required to explain in your application why you were not academically prepared for the course you want to drop).


Additional eligibility requirements:

  • Students must maintain a minimum of 6 units.
  • Academic RCLs can be approved only once while pursuing a course of study at a particular program level.
  • UC EAP reciprocity students may need additional consultation with the UC EAP Systemwide Office and their home university in order to reduce their units below full time.
  • If you are ineligible for an academic RCL, you might want to choose the P/NP (Pass/Not Pass) grade option when you are uncertain how well you are going to do in a class or when you do not want a class to count toward your GPA: Read more about the P/NP option.
    • You must change grading options by the end of Week 4.


  • You are strongly encouraged to meet with your College Advisor (undergraduate students) or Graduate Coordinator (graduate students) before submitting your request.
  • Log in to
  • Go to "Services" tab.
  • Select "Reduced Course Load Request".
  • Complete your request.
  • "Submit" your request.
  • This iPortal RCL request is not the same as Part-Time/Half-Time Study application, and it will not reduce your tuition.


Reduced Tuition

  • International students are generally eligible to apply for reduced tuition only due to medical or final quarter reasons. Academic RCLs are not qualifying reasons to apply for reduced tuition. Learn more about tuition reduction through the Part-Time e-Form (undergraduate students) or  Half-Time e-Form (graduate students).
  • This process is fully handled by the  UC San Diego Registrar's Office. If you have any questions about your tuition reduction or refund, make sure to contact the Registrar's Office directly.


  • F-1 students: If your academic RCL is approved, an updated I-20 reflecting your RCL authorization will be issued within 5 business days.
  • J-1 studentsIf your academic RCL is approved, you will not receive an updated DS-2019 but will receive an approval email that you will need to save for your records.
  • You can check the status of your request anytime by logging in to iPortal and clicking on "My Requests" tab.
  • A notification email will be sent to you when your document is ready.
  • Sign your updated I-20 when you receive it, and keep your previous I-20 for your records, do NOT throw it away.