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A medical RCL is authorization for F-1 or J-1 students who are eligible to enroll in less than 12 units, or, if necessary, no units at all during a Fall, Winter, or Spring quarter for up to 12 months due to illness or medical condition at a particular program level. 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.



Medical RCLs must be submitted and approved on a quarter-by-quarter basis.


Requirements for Medical Recommendations

  • You must provide current (no older than 3 months) medical documentation from a U.S. medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist. You are able to visit a UC San Diego Student Health Services medical doctor or a UC San Diego Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) clinical psychologist (preferred).
  • To substantiate the illness/medical condition, the regulations require students requesting a medical RCL to submit medical documentation with a recommendation for reduced course load. A letter from a practitioner other than one of the medical professionals listed below, such as a nurse practitioner, an acupuncturist, or a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, is not sufficient for the purposes of complying with the federal regulations. Students should obtain medical documentation from one of the following:

    • Medical Doctor (MD); or
    • Doctor of Osteopathy (DO); or
    • Clinical Psychologist (CP).
  • Regarding pregnancy: A normal pregnancy/delivery is not considered a medical condition warranting a medical RCL, ISPO will review medical RCL requests for pregnant students after receiving a letter from a licensed medical doctor recommending the reduced course load and substantiating the illness or medical condition.
The medical documentation must include the following:
  • Issued on office letterhead.
  • Include the date the letter was issued.
  • Include a general medical diagnosis (specifics are not required) with a clear recommendation that due to a medical condition/temporary illness the student take a reduced course load for the applicable term.
  • Include the signature (electronic signatures are permitted) and name of the doctor/clinical psychologist. 


  • Discuss your medical RCL with an International Student Advisor at ISPO before submitting your request.
  • Log in to .
  • Go to "Services" tab.
  • Select "Reduced Course Load Request".
  • Complete your request.
  • Upload a PDF copy of a doctor’s note.
  • "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

  • For reduced tuition, you must meet the eligibility requirements and submit a separate request to be approved for part-time/half-time status using 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 medical RCL is approved, an updated I-20 reflecting your RCL authorization will be issued within 5 business days.
  • J-1 studentsIf your medical RCL is approved, you will not receive a new DS-2019 but will receive an approval email which 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.