FAQ: Parents and families

2020 Spring semester information

ISU Book Store

  • Online textbook buyback
  • Rental book returns; deadline is June 1, 2020

Virtual commencement

    • Saturday, May 9, 10 a.m., ceremonies for undergraduates and Graduate College and Veterinary Medicine graduates available on demand

    Academic Affairs



    Refunds for tuition and mandatory fees will not be issued.

    Refund decisions include:

    • Refunds for course fees* will be prorated on time remaining for the spring semester for most course fees and on a case by case basis for special circumstances, including full refunds for: 
      • Estimated overnight travel costs/student used for calculating the course fee, if the travel was planned for post spring break
      • Estimated surgical costs for veterinary medicine students who did not do surgery
    • Refunds on delivery fees for current distance education courses will not be issued
    • Other refunds linked to study abroad travel — including emergency flight reimbursements for study abroad students and spring break program fees — are already being processed.

    *Course fees are typically used for classes with substantial experiential learning components, including field trips, lab supplies, and other expenses above and beyond those for standard course materials.

    • Residence hall room payments for March 23 to May 9 will be 100% refunded. This equates to a full refund of unused room contracts for the spring semester. Apartments remain open and follow normal cancellation policies.
    • ISU Dining anytime/unlimited meal plan holders (Cardinal and Cyclone meal plans) will be refunded based on the days remaining in the Spring Semester contract period (March 23-May 9). Gold, Silver, Bronze, Block, CyFlex and Dining Dollars meal plans will be fully refunded based on remaining swipe values and balances. Meal plan holders will receive refunds regardless of housing location. The exception is students who have remained on campus and those who have continued to utilize their ISU Dining meal plan during the online instructional period.
    • Prorated parking refunds will be processed once students mail their permits to ISU Parking.

    Mandatory fees support critical infrastructure, broad services and activities for students, such as information technology (IT), health and recreational services, CyRide, the Memorial Union, and support for student activities and organizations through Student Government. 

    While students may not take advantage of all the services supported by mandatory fees they are available to all students.  During the transition to remote instruction, many are still available to students. A few examples would include virtual access to wellness resources and assistance from the Thielen Student Health Center, as well as our IT services, which are arguably more important than ever.

    Iowa State’s Recreation Services unit continues to offer programming to students, now through remote access including e-sports competitions, virtual fitness classes on Instagram, and outdoor recreational opportunities to help students stay active and manage this difficult time in their lives. They are also taking this time to improve programs and services for the future.

    If students are eligible for a refund, it will first be credited to students' U-Bills to cover any outstanding charges. Refund balances beyond this level will be deposited directly in students' bank accounts. Direct deposit is the most efficient way to receive those funds. By signing up for direct deposit, students can be assured that their payment will not be delayed in the event that Iowa State is unable to distribute printed checks.

    Students should use AccessPlus to begin direct deposit or to update existing direct deposit. Follow these instructions to update direct deposit in AccessPlus. 

    If students do not have a bank account, they may open a bank account at any bank of their choice. They may also open a bank account associated with their ISUCard at any U.S. Bank location. Students should bring their ISUCard to a U.S. Bank office as one form of identification or open their account online. Additional information regarding the ISUCard/U.S. Bank partnership is on the ISUCard website.

    The residence halls will close, but students who are unable to return home can request an exception to stay on campus. University apartments will remain open. The department of residence will contact students directly with plans to start moving out of the residence halls. Move-out instructions to support social distancing, and criteria for students who need to stay is available on the Department of Residence website.

    • All lectures, discussion sections, seminars, and similar activities that traditionally take place in classroom settings will be delivered online. 
    • Laboratories, studios, performance instruction, computer labs, and other experiential learning sections will not be held. Substitute assignments or make-up activities during or after that period will be at the discretion of the academic program.

    Students will receive additional information from their instructors before March 23 regarding their classes, assignments, and exams.

    ISU Extension and Outreach offices, which are located in every Iowa county, and have high-speed internet for rural connectivity. Some ISU Extension and Outreach offices are operating at reduced hours or students may be able to access a wifi signal from outside the building. Students are encouraged to call the extension office, check their website or check signage on the office door about hours and wifi access. Students beyond Iowa’s borders may wish to contact their state’s Extension program for similar access.

    Eduroam allows students, faculty and staff from academic institutions to use members’ internet (anywhere in the world) using their ISU login credentials (username@iastate.edu and your password). Iowa State University is a part of the worldwide Eduroam community. An online interactive map shows locations of participating members. Sites in Iowa include Northwestern College, Iowa, Iowa State, Drake and Northern Iowa. To access the internet, you have to be in wireless range, which in most cases, is on campus.

    ISU is following CDC and IDPH guidance that recommends self-isolation, social distancing, and health monitoring for 14 days upon return to the U.S. We are asking students to comply with these recommendations.

    • Social distancing means staying away from large public settings, avoiding public transportation (buses, taxis, ride shares), and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others. Large public settings include shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums, workplaces, schools and other classroom settings in which close seating or dense crowds may make social distancing impossible.
    • Returning students are receiving support from multiple campus offices including the Thielen Student Health Center, Study Abroad Center, Risk Management office and their academic programs.

    The Iowa Department of Public Health recommends individuals in self-isolation stay in a room away from family members and use a separate bathroom if possible. As long as the student remains healthy, other family members can go about their daily activities as normal. There is no restriction on their movement.