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Student health 101

Reduced Course Load

Students with certain functional limitations may qualify for the accommodation of a reduced course load (i.e. enrolling in less than the required minimum of units per quarter). As stated in the CSU Policy for the Provision of Accommodations and Support Services to Students with Disabilities, a change in the length of time to complete academic requirements is an appropriate accommodation. It is the student’s responsibility to demonstrate he or she would be denied equal access without a reduced course load. Only a small percentage of students with disabilities are recommended for a reduced course load. The DRC recommends reduced course loads for students with well documented and justifiable needs; however, occasionally the academic department/college must approve a modification to unit requirements.

Sample Eligibility Criteria

  1. Physical impairments that adversely impact daily functioning
  2. Need to frequently arrange for on and off-campus service providers (personal care assistants, etc.)
  3. Inability to attend classes during certain parts of the day due to documented treatments or medical needs (chemotherapy, renal dialysis, etc.) 
  4. Processing impairments that adversely affect academic performance

What is the process for receiving permission to take a Reduced Course Load?

Students who believe they are eligible based upon the above criteria should schedule a meeting to discuss a reduced course load request with their Access Specialist. Eligibility is based upon appropriate and recent documentation of the disability and is determined on a case-by-case basis. Reduced course loads can be granted on a long or short-term basis.  The DRC recommends eligibility for a reduced course load for students with disabilities; however, occasionally the academic department/college must approve a modification to unit requirements.

Step One: Student provides documentation consistent with the eligibility criteria.

Step Two: A DRC Access Specialist reviews the request and determines if a reduced course load is appropriate.

Step Three: Occasionally it may be necessary for the student to petition the appropriate academic department/college for permission to enroll in less than the required number of units. This can be done by meeting with the academic advisor, presenting their "Faculty Notification of Accommodations" letter, and discussing the recommendation.

If a Reduced Course Load is recommended, when will it begin?

In most cases, a reduced course load will begin at the next registration period after approval. Students are encouraged to share their reduced course load status with academic advisors in the student’s specific college. Each college has criteria on what constitutes a full-time course load. As a result, it is each student’s responsibility to share a DRC recommendation for reduced course load with their academic advisor. It is up to each academic advisor/college to review and approve DRC reduced course load recommendations.

Will a Reduced Course Load affect my financial aid, scholarships, campus housing, etc.?

Yes and maybe.  Federal financial aid is reduced by the percentage of reduction from 12 units. For example, a reduced course load of 9 units would result in a 25% reduction in Federal financial aid. This is Federal policy and not something Cal Poly can modify. For specific information see, http://www.finaid.org/educators/pj/disability.phtml.

For programs and services under the control of Cal Poly, a reduced course load recommended by the DRC as a reasonable accommodation can mitigate the full-time unit requirement. Each situation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Students should meet with their Access Specialist to review how a reduced course load will affect their academic and financial eligibilities.

Could permission to take a Reduced Course Load ever be cancelled?

Yes.  A change in disability status may impact a student’s eligibility. A change in University requirements could also affect a student’s status (i.e., a college increases enrollment requirements from 12 to 15 units per quarter)

Can I appeal a decision if I am not granted a Reduced Course Load?

Yes.  If a student’s Access Specialist does not support a reduced course load request, a student can submit an Accommodation Appeal Form to the DRC. The form will be reviewed by a team of Access Specialists and the Director. If the DRC recommends a reduced course load but the academic department does not approve it, students can file an appeal via the campus Policy and Procedures for Resolving University 504/ADA Student Accommodation Disputes.



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Location: Bldg 124 (Student Services, across from Spanos Stadium)
Phone: 805-756-1395
Fax: 805-756-5451
Email: drc@calpoly.edu

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