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COVID-19 Info for Incoming Exchange Students

Right now, there are many unknowns still about the fall semester at Iowa State University due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some information on how the current situation may affect the fall semester can be found below, but expect that this information may change. Last Updated: 6/15/2020

On June 10th, the university announced it's plans to change the academic calendar for the fall 2020 semester. Classes will now begin on August 17 and the semester will end (including finals) on November 25. Exchange students should still plan to arrive by their original report date shown on their DS-2019: August 11.

For university housing, the Department of Residence is still working through how long students will be allowed to stay in university accommodation after the end of finals. When that information is known, this webpage will be updated.

As of now, Iowa State still plans to hold on campus classes this fall, with keeping student safety as the highest priority. While there are no specifics yet, ISU has decided that some courses will be fully online, some will be hybrid classes, and some will be mostly in person. While this is still not completely figured out, what we do know is that the class structure and classroom environment will be different this upcoming fall semester.

It will most likely not be possible for exchange students to complete all online classes for the fall semester. As ISU is planning to have a mostly in-person semester, it would be too difficult for professors and departments to reconfigure the class into an online version for individual students. It would also not be possible for students to arrive several weeks late for the semester.

United States of America consulates around the world are mostly closed, and we do not know when they may be open again nor how long it may take students to obtain a J-1 visa. Iowa State University has no relationships with consulates around the world, so we would not be able to intervene on a student's behalf to get visa appointments, faster processing times, etc.

We understand flights right now may be limited. Students should still try to arrive by the reporting date listed on their DS-2019, August 11. If students are having difficulties being able to arrive by the reporting date on August 11 or the start of classes on August 17, they should contact their exchange coordinator.

Additionally, Iowa State is unable to refund visa costs or flight costs for incoming exchange students if they are unable to attend in the fall.

We understand that many exchange students come to Iowa State not only for our academics but also our campus culture. We are proud of the strong school spirit we have and the many activities we have during the fall semester including activities like football games, homecoming, and more. At this time, there will be limited entry for Cyclone football games if the season proceeds and the activities surrounding those games may not happen. Exchange students coming for the fall semester should expect less or smaller campus activities than during a typical fall semester.


If you are no longer able to come or no longer want to come to Iowa State for the fall semester, there may still be a possibility you could come to Iowa State for the spring 2021 semester or fall 2021 semester. You first need to talk to your home university to see if they would allow you to defer to a future semester and you also need to ask your exchange coordinator at ISU. Please email them both before emailing Iowa State Admissions about this option.

If you have already signed up for ISU housing, this contract will also be deferred. There is nothing you will need to do to make that change, your exchange coordinator will help faciliate that process.


If you are no longer able to come or no longer want to come to ISU this fall semester, and you also do not want to defer to a future semester, please contact your home university. Your home university should then contact your ISU exchange coordinator with this update. If you have already completed a housing contract, this will be canceled too, there is nothing you need to do and you will not need to pay anything for your cancelled contract.

Iowa State COVID-19 Response Page
Department of Residence - Fall 2020 Information