Underloads and Financial Aid: The Impact of Less than Full-time Enrollment
Any student who wishes to carry fewer than 36 units in any given term must petition for an underload. Underloads must be approved by the Deans. Underloads for graduating seniors must be approved by the Registrar. Petitions are available online and in the Deans' Office.
PLEASE NOTE: The Institute will charge students for a minimum of 12 terms of full-time tuition, even if they complete their degree requirements early. Students may NOT receive scholarship assistance for any term in which they are not enrolled at least half-time.
Undergraduate students who underload in a term will have their financial aid, including outside scholarships, adjusted as indicated below, based on the actual number of units students are enrolled in as of Add Day. However, the student's Caltech account will be charged full-time tuition.
The following information summarizes the impact of less than full-time enrollment.
The reduction in financial aid is generally done in the following order:
- Federal Pell Grant
- Caltech scholarships in the current term
- Caltech scholarships awarded in other terms
- Self-help aid (such as loans and work-study)
If the necessary reduction is greater than the total amount of financial aid you were awarded for the year, you will lose all of your financial aid for the current academic year.
Full-time enrollment is defined in the Caltech Catalog as 36 units. Students enrolling less than full-time, taking between 27 to 35 units, are considered enrolled 3/4 time. The impact to their financial aid is usually a reduction to their grant, in the same amount as the tuition reduction on their student aid budget. Federal Pell Grant recipients will have their Federal Pell award reduced according to federal regulations. The Financial Aid Office will revise the student's budget to reflect the reduction in tuition, calculated based on the units enrolled in as of Add Day, and then revise the student's aid (grant eligibility) to reflect the reduction in need. However, the student's Caltech account will be charged full-time tuition.
Half-time enrollment is defined as enrolling in 18 to 26 units. In this situation, the Financial Aid Office will revise the tuition amount on the student aid budget and also reduce the student's books and supplies allowance to one half of the standard amount for that term. The student's aid is adjusted to reflect the reduced financial aid eligibility. Federal Pell Grant recipients will have their Pell award reduced according to federal regulations. The Financial Aid Office will revise the student's financial aid budget and then revise the student's aid (grant eligibility) to reflect the reduction in need. However, the student's Caltech account will be charged full-time tuition.
Less than 1/2 Time
Less than 1/2 time enrollment is defined as taking fewer than 18 units. Tuition is revised based on the units enrolled in as of Add Day. As indicated in the Caltech Catalog, the minimum tuition charge is 10 units per term. The books and supplies allowance is reduced to 1/4 for that term. The student's aid is reduced based on the reduced student aid budget. Federal Pell Grant recipients will have their Pell award reduced according to federal regulations. More importantly, the student becomes ineligible for Caltech grant aid for that term; the student will only be eligible for Caltech work study and/or loan assistance. If the student is enrolled less than half time, the grace period on any student loan (CIT loan, Institute loan and Federal Stafford loan) will begin. In addition, a student/family is no longer eligible for Federal PLUS or Stafford loans during periods of less than ½ time enrollment. However, the student's Caltech account will be charged full-time tuition.
Effect on Outside Scholarships
In all of the above categories, the Financial Aid Office also checks to see if a student has an outside scholarship that requires continuous full-time enrollment. If a scholarship donor requires full time enrollment, the Financial Aid Office is required to return the scholarship money for that term to the donor. If this occurs, the student is encouraged to contact the donor directly to review and, possibly, appeal the agency's policy.
Students with questions regarding underloads should discuss their individual circumstances with a Financial Aid Counselor. Contact our office with any questions you have.