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Principles Related to the Registration Process

1. Registration System

LionPATH is the central course registration system used by students at all locations to register for credit courses, which includes resident instruction, continuing education, and World Campus delivery systems.

Non-credit courses follow different registration procedures.

The campus Registrar is responsible for providing semester-by-semester registration instructions to students, advisers, faculty, and staff. Registration instructions are published on the Registrar website.

The registration process is continuous in nature. Each student is assigned a "first date to register." Starting with this first date, the student may initially register for courses and subsequently adjust their course registrations as appropriate and necessary. Students are encouraged to begin the registration process by meeting with their academic adviser in advance of their first date to register. The fundamental goal of this process is to finalize course registrations before the first day of the semester.

Students may register for courses using LionPATH or by requesting, via in-person or written requests, that the appropriate campus office schedule on their behalf. This action will require a student to sign the FRA prior to enrolling in a course and requires the student to indicate their major preference. In instances when students elect to complete a paper FRA form (available at the Bursar's Office), the Bursar's Office will curate the form and release the registration hold, thereby allowing courses selected by the student to be added by the appropriate campus office.

2.  Financial Obligations

Students are obligated to pay applicable tuition and fees once they are registered for courses.

Students who have registered for courses receive a statement of tuition and fees from the Bursar's office. This statement includes the amount to be paid and possible credits resulting from applicable scholarships, loans, grants, and other forms of financial assistance. In some cases, because of possible financial credits, a student may not be required to make payment to the University. In other cases, a student may be owed a refund from the University.

Consequences of non-payment: Failure to complete payment of tuition and fees may result in a hold on registration as defined in AAPPM N-2: Holds on Student Registrations. In addition, non-payment could have any, or all, of the following implications:

A campus may cancel registration for students who are not in good financial standing or who have not attended any classes. Good financial standing is defined as a student who has an account balance of less than $100, has approved or anticipated financial aid, or has made satisfactory payment arrangements. Should student payments become past due for the current semester and the campus cancels their current registration, registration for future semesters also may be cancelled.

3. Credit Limitations

The typical full-time credit load is 12–19 credits. Students should consult with their academic adviser before registering for a credit overload, which is defined as greater than 19 credits. Students are not permitted to register for more than 19 credits prior to the first day of the semester. To enroll for more than 19 credits in any one semester, a student must have a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0.

There are a small number of courses, typically internships or co-ops, that are offered for and earn fewer than 12 credits but are treated as full time equivalent to recognize the workload they represent.  Full-time equivalent courses are defined in AAPPM N-5: Enrollment Status. Students taking one of these courses are considered full time, and these courses count as 12 credits of academic load for the purpose of the credit limitation policy.

At no point in the semester will a student be allowed to register for more than 24 credits in that semester.

Exceptions to the credit limitation policy may be granted in rare cases by the appropriate dean, campus chancellor, or designee using the Credit Limit Exception Request Form.

4. Registration Calendar

The University Registrar is responsible for developing a registration calendar for each semester.
The registration calendar is prioritized as follows:

  1. Students with priority needs (e.g., honor students, students with disabilities, veterans, and student athletes),
  2. Graduate degree-seeking students,
  3. Undergraduate degree-seeking students (descending order of total credits completed).
  4. Non-degree-seeking students register on a space-available basis.

The process for determining priority registration needs for categories of students is as follows:

  1. Requests for priority registration must be endorsed by a University dean/chancellor, their delegate, or the administrator with responsibility for that group of students.
  2. Requests for priority registration must be in writing and submitted to the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education and the Vice President for Enrollment Management.
  3. The request must specify:
    1. the group of students for whom priority registration is requested,
    2. the rationale for priority registration status and how the request meets the criteria guidelines (see below),
    3. the number of students in the group,
    4. the requested time frame for implementation.
  4. Guiding principles used in considering requests:
    1. Compelling Scheduling Need – for example, some characteristic of the group restricts the times that the group or its members may take classes.
    2. Overall benefits outweigh detriment to the university community at large.
  5. The Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education will appoint a committee consisting of the University Registrar and two deans serving on the Administrative Council for Undergraduate Education (ACUE), who do not represent the unit making the request, to decide whether to grant the request. The Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education will notify the unit making the request of the decision.
  6. One appeal will be considered. In such cases, documents will be reviewed by the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education and the decision will be based on the guiding principles (see #4 above).
  7. If a group of students is granted priority registration, the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education will notify the University Registrar for implementation.

All student groups granted priority registration must re-apply for the privilege every five years. A written proposal justifying the need for the practice to continue must be submitted to the Vice-President and Dean for Undergraduate Education by the dean making the request. If approved, priority registration for the requested group will be extended for an additional five years.

5. Initial Registration

The regular registration period starts on the assigned enrollment appointment registration date for each student and ends on the first day of the semester. During this period, students may register for courses using the registration tools available in LionPATH.

Before the first day of the semester, students may adjust their course registration as appropriate and necessary using any of the methods available for registration.

6. Critical Registration Dates in the Semester

Semesters vary in length. Therefore, deadlines and beginnings and endings of periods for certain actions described in this policy differ depending on the length of the semester. They can also be different for classes that do not begin and end on the normal semester dates, which are called dynamic.  Dates for the regular 15-week semester and 7-week sessions are on the academic calendar published by the Office of the University Registrar. Other dynamic course dates can be viewed in the student's Student Center in LionPATH.

The drop period begins on the first day the class. The duration of the regular drop period is calculated by multiplying six days by the duration of the course in weeks divided by 15, and rounding up to the next higher whole number of days (e.g., six days in a 15-week semester; Senate Policy 34-89). For most classes, the regular drop period begins on the first day of the semester and lasts six days.

The add period begins on the first day of the class and ends one calendar day after the end of the drop period. For most classes, the add period runs from the first day of the semester and lasts seven days.  Classes that begin after the start of the semester have a unique add and drop periods.
The late registration period begins on the first day of the class and ends after 80 percent of the class time has been completed (e.g., the end of the twelfth week of a 15-week semester). Once 80% of the class has been completed, registration for that class is closed.

7. Registration Adjustments—During the Regular Drop and Add Period

During the regular drop period, students may drop any courses they choose using the drop tools available in LionPATH.

During the regular add period (concludes one day later than the drop period), students may add any available courses, subject to the credit limitations in section #3, using the tools available in LionPATH.

No processing fees are assessed and dropped classes do not appear on students' transcripts. 

8. Registration Adjustments—After the Regular Drop and Add Period

Students completing their initial registration after the regular add period will be assessed a late registration fee.

The late drop and late add periods begin the day after the regular drop period and the day after the regular add period, respectively, and both periods end when 80% of the semester is completed (e.g., from day seven or eight until the end of the twelfth week of a 15-wk semester).

Students requesting a late drop, which will be indicated by an LD grade on the transcript, should be carefully advised and cautioned regarding the potential effect of delaying normal progress toward graduation, possible loss of some forms of student aid, and potential ineligibility of coverage on parental insurance policies. A course that is late dropped counts as a course attempt. Late drops must be processed in person at the appropriate campus office or by using the tools available in LionPATH. A processing fee is charged for a late drop.

Students requesting to late-add a course must have the approval of the course instructor and should be carefully advised and cautioned regarding missed work. They should consult with the course instructor regarding how missed coursework should be made up and by when. Late adds must be processed in person or by written request at the appropriate campus office. A processing fee is charged for a late add.

Students may not add courses after the end of the late add period. Any late add after 80 percent of the course has been completed must be handled via a petition to the University Faculty Senate.

9.  Class Cancellation

Students are responsible for making accurate course schedule changes to ensure they are registered for all courses they are attending and not registered for any they are not attending.

Once classes begin and after the regular drop period, a student who wants to cancel a class they never attended and in which they never participated must contact the department offering the course (if at University Park) or the campus Registrar (if at a Commonwealth campus). The department staff/campus registrar will initiate a Class Cancellation form and ask the student to sign the request. The department staff/campus Registrar will forward the form to the class instructor. If the instructor has no evidence that the student participated in the class and makes this declaration of non-participation by signing the form, the form is returned to the department office/campus Registrar. The department office will forward the form to the Office of the University Registrar's office. The campus Registrar will remove the class from the student's academic record. This procedure is available until the last day of classes following the semester in which the student was enrolled in the class. After this time, the Faculty Senate must act on the class cancellation request.

Students who received a Student Aid refund associated with that semester must return those funds.

Students who attended or participated in the class should drop or late drop the course. If the student is dropping all classes, they must formally withdraw (see AAPPM J-1: Withdrawal).

10. Multiple Campus Registration

Each campus creates its course schedule with the goal of serving students enrolled at that campus. Likewise, each student is assigned a home campus at which the student must be registered; this registration requirement can be overridden by the campus Registrars or the department offering the course (if at University Park) for adult learners as they are defined in AAPPM M-4.

Students first register for courses offered by their home campus. Permission to register for course(s) at any other campus is required from the non-home campus. Permission to register follows the following priorities:

  1. Campuses first ensure that all their students have an opportunity to register before allowing students from other campuses to enroll in their courses.
  2. The next priority is given to graduating seniors in their last semester who have a different home campus and who need the course to satisfy a graduation requirement.
  3. The third priority is given to adult learners who have a different home campus.
  4. The last priority is all other students.

To manage these priorities, campuses normally limit registration for students from other campuses to begin seven days before the start of classes. Academic units can waive this restriction to address unique circumstances.

To request permission to schedule a course(s) at a non-University Park campus, a student must contact the Registrar's office of that campus. Permission is granted based on availability of seats in the course and the priorities outlined above.

If a non-University Park student wants to take a course(s) at University Park, the student must contact the department offering the University Park course for permission. Registration permission priorities follow the ordering described above. Once permission has been granted, the department will forward the request to the Registrar for the course(s) to be added to the student's schedule.

If multi-campus registration results in the majority of a student's credits being scheduled at a campus other than the home campus, the student must request a temporary change of campus, as outlined in AAPPM D-5, Early and Temporary Change of Campus. This temporary change of campus requirement does not apply to adult learners.

11. Section Changes

A section change that occurs after the drop/add period is an administrative change to a student's registration that results in moving a student from one section of a course to another. After the regular drop/add period, section changes may not be initiated directly by the student. These section changes must be processed by a Penn State staff member who has authority and access to enroll students in the academic department that delivers the course.

Section changes may be processed through the last day of classes. When processing a section change, late drop/add fees are not applicable.

Senate Policy:  34-20, Registration
Senate Policy:  34-81, Enrollment
Senate Policy:  34-87, Course Add
Senate Policy:  34-89, Course Drop

Undergraduate Advising

Revised: ACUE (3-4-99)
Revised: Editorial (9-29-00)
Revised: ACUE (4-7-05)
Revised: ACUE (6-7-07)
Revised: Editorial (11-1-07)
Revised: ACUE (6-5-08)
Revised: Editorial (1-28-09)
Revised: Editorial (3-25-09)
Revised: Editorial (6-2-11)
Revised: Editorial (8-19-11)
Revised: ACUE (11-3-11)
Revised: ACUE (2-2-12)
Revised: Editorial (6-6-12)
Revised: ACUE (4-4-13)
Revised: ACUE (5-2-13)
Revised: ACUE (9-4-14)
Revised: ACUE (6-4-15)
Revised: ACUE (11-5-15); Effective Fall 2016
Revised: Editorial (2-4-16); Effective Spring 2017
Revised: Editorial (10-12-16); Effective Spring 2017
Revised: ACUE (6-1-17)
Approved: ACUE (7-21-20)
Approved: ACUE (9-2-21)
Approved: ACUE (12-2-21)
Revised: Editorial (1-24-22)
Approved:  ACUE (2-3-22)
Revised: ACUE (1-5-2023)
Approved: ACUE (5-4-23)