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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 spring semester can be found below, but expect that this information may change. As of October 21st, ISU has cancelled outgoing study abroad and exchange. But incoming exchange has not been cancelled. Last Updated: 10/23/2020


If you want to stay up to date with COVID-19 in the state of Iowa as a whole, please see the COVID-19 in Iowa website.


Masks are required in all buildings on campus, and are recommended when outside. Some business in Iowa require masks, others do not. Iowa at this time does not have a state wide mandate on masks.


You can see the dates for the spring semester on the academic calendar. The spring 2021 semester calendar is different from past spring semesters. The semester will start later than normal, starting on January 25th, and there is no spring break.


During the fall semester, ISU has been doing a combination of some in person classes, some hybrid classes (sometimes the class is in person, other times it is online) and fully online classes. Depending on the type of classes you want to take at ISU, your schedule may have a combination of all these types of classes.

It is not possible to complete a fully online semester while ALSO staying in your home country. If a student is not able to come to Iowa for the semester, they will not be able to do the exchange semester.


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. Students should consult with their home university's international office or their local USA consulate to see if they would be able to get a visa to come to America.

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


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 spring semester including activities like campus activities and events, and basketball. At this time, we do not know if basketball games will be open to any audience.

While on campus, students are discouraged from gathering in groups, especially in enclosed spaces or without masks. Exchange students coming for the spring semester should expect less or smaller campus activities than during a typical spring semester.


If you are no longer able to come or no longer want to come to Iowa State for the spring semester, there may still be a possibility you could come to Iowa State for the 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 are no longer able to come or no longer want to come to ISU for the spring 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