Adding and Dropping Courses: What You Need to Know

If you are considering adding or dropping a course, there are many factors you will want to consider:

Matt Rupert, academic adviser
Matt Rupert, academic adviser
  • Is there still time to add or drop a course?
  • Will dropping a course affect my progress towards my degree?
  • Will a change in my course schedule have financial implications?

Penn State maintains three periods relating to course drops: the pre-semester period, the add-drop period, and the late drop period.

  1. The pre-semester period begins on the first day of scheduling and ends the day before the semester starts.
  2. The drop/add period begins the day that your courses start, and ends approximately 10% of the way through a course.  Each semester, the University Registrar establishes an academic calendar containing these dates. If you are looking to drop a course, be sure to find out the “last day of regular drop” for your course via eLion. Once you have logged in, click on “Course Drop Dates.”  The add period ends at 8 AM Eastern Time the day following the end of the drop period.
  3. The late drop period starts the day after the regular drop period finishes and ends approximately 80% of the way through a course.  You can find the late drop deadline for your course via eLion—click on “Course Drop Dates.” Late adding of courses during this period is not recommended in most cases and requires permission of the World Campus. You will not be able to add courses via eLion during the late drop period. I encourage you to contact your undergraduate adviser for more information.

Changing your overall number of credits after your course begins can have financial implications

When you are a part-time student and drop a course or a full-time student and drop below full-time status, your overall number of credits changes.  This can impact the tuition, fees, student aid, and refunds applied to your bursar account. Additionally, during the late drop period, the University assesses a $6 per course processing fee for any course dropped or added.  If you are a full-time student (12 or more credits for undergraduate students, 9 or more credits for graduate students) who drops a course but still remains at full-time status, you will not incur the same impacts on your bursar account, as the tuition rate is flat once full-time enrollment is reached.

You will also want to investigate whether you are meeting the “Satisfactory Academic Progress” standards for federal financial aid programs when considering a course drop.  Details about satisfactory academic progress is available at the Office of Student Aid website.

During the pre-semester period, you can add and drop courses as many times as needed to create a suitable schedule without the same financial implications.  Please be mindful to check your tuition bill for updates if you make changes to your schedule (especially adding credits) after you have already paid your tuition bill.

Academic considerations

Before you decide whether to drop a course, it is important to work with your academic adviser to understand how changing your schedule will fit into your academic plan.

During the late drop period, associate degree students are limited to 10 credits worth of late drop courses, while bachelor degree students are limited to 16 credits of late drop courses. You can find out how many you have remaining on your “Academic Summary” via eLion. Courses dropped during the late drop period will appear on your student record.

“Leave a reply” beneath this post to let us know what other questions you have about adding and dropping courses—we’d be happy to answer them!