FAQ: Students

2020 spring semester information

ISU Book Store

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

Virtual commencement

    • Ceremonies for undergraduates and Graduate College and Veterinary Medicine graduates are 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 recreation 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. Many services continue to be available for the remainder of the spring semester. A few examples would include virtual access to wellness resources and assistance from the Thielen Student Health Center, and IT services support for remote learning.

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

    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.

    University Online Instruction Period

    Iowa State University will continue with virtual instruction for the remainder of the spring semester to protect the health and safety of students, faculty and staff. Academic support services, including academic advising and career services, will be provided online or by phone. Laboratories, studios, performance instruction, computer labs and other experiential learning sections will not be held in person. Substitute assignments or makeup activities will be at the discretion of the academic program.

    This decision was made in consultation with the Board of Regents out of an abundance of caution to prioritize the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread and has reached global pandemic status.

    All lectures, discussion sections, seminars and similar activities that traditionally take place in classroom settings.

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

    Graduate students will receive guidance from their departments, graduate majors, major professors, and/or program directors (DOGEs). Graduate assistants (RAs, TAs and AAs) will maintain their appointments from March 23 – April 3. Although supervisors of graduate assistants will provide individualized guidance, in general, RAs and AAs will be expected to maintain their normal duties. The duties of TAs may be adjusted by supervisors to support online instruction. 

    Preliminary and final oral examinations of graduate students are essential university business. These events are scheduled through the Graduate College, which will waive its policies that limit remote participation.

    The Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center, which serves as a teaching hospital, is open to serve critically ill patients. The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is open. The College of Veterinary Medicine has moved to online instruction and developed a protocol for clinical teaching.

    ISU Extension and Outreach offices, which are located in every Iowa county, 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.

    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.

    • Thielen Student Health Center, Student Counseling and International Students and Scholars will continue to provide essential services. Students needing to schedule a visit should call ahead. Thielen and Student Counseling will soon have telehealth options available to serve students.
    • Other Student Affairs services will be available to students participating in off-campus online instruction on a limited basis via phone or email.
    • For the remainder of the semester, academic support services, including academic advising and career services, will be provided online or by phone.
    • Residence Halls will close, but allow students who cannot return home to request an exception to stay on campus. Students need to complete this form for an exception. University apartments will remain open.
    • ISU Dining is following the public health directive of no dine-in, only carry-out permitted and has a modified schedule for each location online.

    Registration for fall 2020 classes, which was to begin March 23, will be delayed.  Students and advisors are encouraged to conduct registration appointments electronically. The revised schedule:

    • April 2 – College of Veterinary Medicine and Graduate College
    • April 3 – Graduate College
    • April 6-14 – Seniors
    • April 15-20 – Juniors
    • April 21-23 – Sophomores
    • April 24 - Freshmen

    Residence and Dining

    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.

    Following the public health directive only carry-out meals are permitted. The operating hours at limited locations are availble on the ISU Dining website.

    Student Employees

    Student workers should discuss with their supervisor their plans during the university online instruction period. 

    Student employees who continue to work are expected to perform the normal practice of check in and out for time worked, and to submit their time sheet in Workday at the end of the work week as they normally would. The continued requirement that students' hours not to exceed 20 hours per week remains.

    Direct deposit is the most efficient way to be paid. All employees should use Workday to begin direct deposit or to update existing direct deposit. Follow these instructions  to update direct deposit in Workday. Please enroll by the end of the day Wednesday, March 25. 

    If employees 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. Employees 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 may be found here: on the ISUCard website.

    Student employees are permitted to work during the online instruction period.  However, departments are encouraged to be supportive of student employees if they are choosing to stay home or off campus during this timeframe. Student workers should communicate with their supervisor about their plans. Student employees who remain away from work should be able to return to their regular job upon their return, as agreed upon by their supervisor regarding available work and schedule. 

    COVID-19 Concerns

    The university also encourages students and employees who may have anxiety or depression regarding how they are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak to seek mental health services through Student Counseling Services or the Thielen Student Health Center.

    It is important to obtain credible information from experts including the CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), and public health agencies, and ensure you are only sharing credible resources. Outbreaks can cause fear and anxiety and we encourage our campus community to be supportive and speak out against negative and stigmatizing behaviorCampus resources are also available for support.

    Class/work absences and personal health

    There are steps you can take to limit your risk for any illness. The Thielen Student Health Center encourages the campus community to practice infection control strategies including:

    • The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Video: Tips for wearing face mask coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with tissues when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash after use.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to avoid spreading germs.
    • Improve your immune system by getting enough rest (eight hours is ideal), exercising regularly, and eating healthy.
    • Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with sick people.
    • Instead of a handshake, give a wave to avoid spreading germs.

    To help stop the spread of disease, it is important for students, faculty and staff to stay home when they are sick. While COVID-19 has not been detected on campus, influenza, colds and other illnesses are prevalent during the winter months. Cyclone Health also has helpful information and additional resources for taking care of your behavioral health during the outbreak.

    ISU, working with its health insurer Wellmark, has decided to implement the following steps to help our Student and Scholar Health Insurance members:

    • Waiving prior authorization processes. Wellmark will waive prior authorization processes for covered services related to COVID-19 to ensure patients receive the right care at the right time and location.
    • Covering diagnostic tests for COVID-19. Members will have no cost-share for appropriate testing to establish the diagnosis of COVID-19.
    • Increasing access to prescription medications. Wellmark prescription drug benefit plans will allow for early refill and we encourage the use of 90-day retail and mail order benefits. They also will ensure formulary flexibility if there are medication shortages or other access issues. Members will not be responsible for any additional charges if they receive a non-formulary medication as a result of a shortage. 
    • Offering 24/7 help. Members have access to Wellmark’s BeWell 24/7SM service which connects members to people who can help with a variety of health-related concerns 24/7.

    UPDATE: Effective March 16, 2020, for the next 90 days, Wellmark is waiving members’ cost-share for both medical and behavioral health virtual visits – whether it be with their current primary care physician or another in-network provider (including Doctor on Demand). Neither ISU nor its’ student scholars will be financially responsible for virtual visit cost-share (copay, coinsurance, and/or deductible) through June 16, 2020.

    Wellmark will continue to use the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), and South Dakota Health Department as their official sources of information. For the latest U.S. impacts of COVID-19, please see the data reported by the CDC.

    To learn more about Wellmark’s response to coronavirus, please visit Wellmark.com/coronavirus.

    Students who miss class due to illness are encouraged to contact their instructors as soon as possible, to notify them of their illness, and to determine how best to make up class time and assignments. If students are not able to contact their faculty due to their illness (hospitalized, etc.), they can contact the Dean of Students office to assist with the notification process. Student Assistance staff is available if students have additional concerns.

    Faculty and staff are encouraged to notify their department chair or supervisor as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made to cover classes or work, as necessary.

    Non-study abroad travel

    International Business travel

    In accordance with Board of Regents policy, all foreign travel by faculty, staff, and students for university purposes is prohibited, regardless of whether the travel would have been funded by the university or other sources.

    The Board of Regents is extending the 30-day international travel ban by 7 days each Monday until conditions improve.

    Domestic Business travel

    In accordance with the Governor’s direction and Board of Regents policy, all non-essential university domestic travel for faculty, staff, and students is prohibited until further notice, regardless of whether the travel would have been funded by the university or other sources. This restriction pertains to interstate travel.

    Domestic student internships, practica, and preceptorships for course credit or as required by degree programs are deemed essential for student academic progress and are allowed by the university. 

    In all other cases, university-sponsored essential domestic travel is only permitted with the express approval of the appropriate Senior Vice President or the University President.

    Submit travel requests to univeventauth@iastate.edu. Requests must demonstrate that travel is essential to university operations; that no alternative method of convening is possible; and the health and safety of Iowa State employees will be appropriately managed.

    Individuals that are approved for university sponsored domestic travel may have isolation or other restrictions imposed before they may return to campus. 

    Travel within Iowa can continue. That said, the university strongly recommends decisions are made to reduce in-state travel, consistent with our goal of taking reasonable actions to reduce transmission risk. Some factors to consider when evaluating in-state travel include: whether the activity is necessary to enable a student to remain on-track for degree completion; whether the activity could be postponed, moved online, or done by phone; the number of attendees and whether the attendees can practice social distancing (e.g. sitting at least six feet apart); and whether the activity supports a critical issue or need in an Iowa community.

    Personal travel

    There are no university rules restricting travel by faculty, staff, and students for personal reasons. It is important to note that, aside from incidental university business such as checking email and making phone calls, university business may not be conducted while traveling out of state or internationally for personal reasons. Faculty, staff, and students who travel out of state or internationally should be aware that they may have isolation or other restrictions imposed by other states or countries that could restrict or delay some aspects of their travel and/or their return to Iowa.

    We strongly urge you to use extreme caution and judgment for personal travel. Please check the state and territorial health department websites for the latest information. 

    Health and safety for all

    Faculty, staff, and students who travel out-of-state or internationally for any reason are subject to the same guidelines regarding working on campus as all others. 

    Faculty, Staff, and students who travel internationally may be subject to mandatory isolation orders based upon CDC guidelines and should email COVID-19@iastate.edu before returning to campus. 

    No general university isolation order is in place for employees who have traveled domestically out of state. Faculty, staff, and students who travel out of state are subject to the same guidelines regarding working on campus as all others. Faculty, staff, and students who are sick or who are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 should alert their supervisors, and should not report to campus. Likewise, those who believe that they have been exposed to COVID-19, but are not symptomatic, should contact their supervisor and should not come to campus until they are cleared to do so by the university.  

    Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in all states and many countries, and many areas are experiencing community spread of the disease. Crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19, if there are other travelers with COVID-19. There are several things you should consider when deciding whether it is safe for you to travel and when returning from travel.

    For international students

    This temporary change in course delivery methods will not affect your immigration status. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program and U.S. Department of State have said they support schools taking necessary measures to keep students safe, including online delivery of classes.

    We recognize this is an extremely difficult situation for students from impacted countries who may not be able to return home at the end of the semester, or visit family. Iowa State will work closely with these students to make sure housing and other necessities are available should this need arise.

    We recognize that your ability to arrive on campus for the start of the semester may not be in your control. If this happens, the Office of Admissions and your academic college will work with you to determine how best to proceed so you can enroll and begin your studies at Iowa State.

    Re-entry into the United States for persons traveling from or through impacted countries is outside the control of the university. Iowa State strongly recommends that everyone reconsider travel to any country with a CDC level 3 or State Department level 4 advisory based on the COVID-19. We encourage you to monitor developments through the State Department and CDC websites.

    Study abroad programs

    Students should utilize information provided by credible sources such as the U.S. State Department, state departments of the country they are traveling, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    All ISU Study Abroad students are provided with the AlertTraveler App which they should have available to them and be familiar with its use during their entire time outside of the U.S.

    The university takes guidance from the CDC, the U.S. Department of State, our international security information provider, and public health officials in host countries. When making decisions about specific programs, we also consider local conditions as well as input from peer institutions and our overseas partners.

    We work closely with our academic partners who provide study abroad programs with the goal of mitigating potential impacts on students’ academic progress (being able to complete coursework, for example), as well as non-academic issues. For information on a specific program, please email studyabroad@iastate.edu. Unfortunately, there may not be any viable options in some cases. 

    We understand that personal tolerance for risk may vary, and that final decisions will be made between a student and their family. If a student chooses to leave a program and return home, we respect that decision.

    Students should contact studyabroad@iastate.edu for assistance as well as their academic adviser. Iowa State will work both internally and with its partners to try to support the student’s completion of their work with that program, but this will not be available in many cases. 

    Many countries are implementing travel restrictions. For this reason, it is not recommended to travel away from your study abroad location. Students considering personal travel on weekends and breaks should carefully consider these restrictions as it may cause delays, mandatory quarantines, or being denied entry to a country. For guidance on travel restrictions that countries have implemented, students may contact the Office of Risk Management.   

    The university strongly recommends that everyone reconsider even personal travel to any country with a CDC level 3 or State Department level 4 advisory based on COVID-19. We encourage you to monitor developments through the State Department and CDC websites.

    Students who are traveling should, in addition to taking recommended measures to prevent illness, take basic precautions to prepare for potential travel disruptions:

    • Students should keep cell phones fully charged and operational, and check their email at least daily.
    • Students should maintain and utilize their AlertTraveler App when they arrive in the country they are traveling to. 
    • Students should travel with all key documents, including their passport, visa if applicable, and insurance documents.
    • Students should travel with a full supply of any prescribed medications, regardless of how long they plan to be away. Prescription medications need to  be in their original containers.

    The Board of Regents directed its Regents institutions to recall all faculty, staff and students who are out of the country. Due to global uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic, study abroad courses that start before Aug. 15, 2020, are canceled. Academic colleges will follow up with impacted students regarding these trips. Contact studyabroad@iastate.edu with questions.

    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.

    ISU is requiring students to follow CDC guidance for return travelers. In addition, students have been provided information on how to seek healthcare, infection control practices, health insurance, and support for emotional wellbeing.

    The university will directly contact students who are currently abroad with updates. Depending on the nature and/or urgency of the communication, or if we cannot reach the student, we may also reach out to students’ emergency contacts designated in their study abroad application. All members of the Iowa State community can find updates here.

    The answer to this question varies with each student’s unique financial aid situation. Individuals who have questions regarding financial aid as it relates to their study abroad should contact studyabroad@iastate.edu.