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Caltech does not allow students to study part-time. Therefore, the Institute only allows underloads in certain cases, such as when a graduating senior needs fewer than the minimum number of units in order to complete the degree requirements; or when a student has medical or personal problems that would prevent them from successfully completing a full term's work.
An underload is registration for fewer than 36 units, and should be approved before add day of the term in question. Underloads for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors must be approved by an associate dean of undergraduate students. Seniors who wish to underload must submit a senior underload petition and a course plan for graduation the following June that does not require an overload in any term.
Please keep in mind that underloads can have an impact on financial aid, immigration status, and/or NCAA eligibility. Students receiving financial aid should note that underloads will often result in a reduction of financial aid. Underloads will not receive a tuition reduction unless the CASS office is involved. International students should also consult with ISP and NCAA athletes, with the athletic department, about implications of underloads.
The Deans do not grant underloads to enable students to work part-time while continuing to pursue their studies. In these cases, they recommend that students either consult with the Financial Aid office, or take a leave of absence in order to work and save whatever money they need in order to resume their studies full-time.
Completing fewer than 27 units without prior approval will result in ineligibility; for more information on eligibility, see the catalog. Students who need to go under 27 units after add day may do so with the approval of an associate dean one time during their Caltech career, without triggering an ineligibility for the term. Any further post add-day underloads may make the student ineligible, and the dean may recommend alternative options.