Winter Session FAQs

Updated October 20, 2020

Key Dates

What are the dates for the Winter Session?

The five-week Winter Session will begin Monday, December 14, 2020 and end Thursday, January 21, 2021.

Target audience/Course load

Will new students be allowed to start in the winter session?

No. Only continuing students are allowed to take classes during the session.

May graduate students register for a winter session course?

Our inaugural winter session is limited to continuing undergraduate students.

What is the credit maximum?

Students may take up to a maximum of four credits during the winter session.

Who should consider taking a Winter Session course?

Winter Session courses will cover the same content typically covered during a full semester course in a compressed period. Before registering for a Winter Session course, students should carefully consider whether they have the necessary time, dedication, and study habits needed to stay on track to complete the course.

Can PSEO students register for a Winter Session course?

No. Similar to summer sessions, winter session courses will not be eligible for PSEO enrollment, due to the rigorous coursework within an accelerated format.

Registration and Course Offerings/Modalities

What courses will be offered during Winter Session and where is this information posted?

Iowa State’s academic colleges identified a set of online courses to be offered during the Winter Session. Generally, these are core, general education, and gateway courses that students need to complete graduation requirements. View courses

Once the Winter Session course offerings are released, you can visit the schedule of classes and use the “Toggle Advanced Search” option.  For Winter Session courses, enter Start Date 12/14/2020 and/or Stop Date 01/21/2021.

When will the course offerings be released?  

The expected release date for Winter Session courses is on or before October 19th.

When will registration open?

Registration for Winter Session courses will be concurrent with spring semester courses. There will not be separate RANs or Start Dates. The registration period will begin Wednesday, October 28 and continue through Friday, November 13 for returning undergraduates.  Start Dates are assigned and can be viewed on the Current Student Info section of AccessPlus.

What is the last date that a Winter Session course can be added to a student’s schedule?

Students can add or drop courses for Winter Session using AccessPlus through Wednesday, December 16, 2020.  After December 16th the student will need to use the standard schedule change process by coordinating with their instructor and academic advisor.

How will Winter Session courses be taught?

All courses selected for the Winter Session will be delivered online. Some courses will have synchronous components completed online.

How will enrollment in Winter Session courses affect the residence pathway process?

Students who are going through the process to gain Iowa residency may take courses in both Winter Session and Spring Session with the following credit restrictions:

  • No more than 4 credits for Winter Session
  • Half-time enrollment or less for the standard Spring 2021
  • 6 credits or less for undergraduate
  • 5 credits or less for graduate


Tuition Assessment and Financial Aid

What is the cost for Winter Session courses?

Students enrolled in Winter Session courses will be assessed tuition based on the number of credit hours they are enrolled in and based on the standard tuition rates set by the Iowa Board of Regents. The tuition rates vary by residency status (resident, nonresident, or international). No differential tuition rates will be applied to Winter Session. No mandatory fees will be charged for Winter Session enrollment.   For tuition assessment details please visit Tuition & Fees.

Do Winter Session courses cost extra or is it part of spring tuition?

Tuition for Winter Session courses will be separate from tuition charged for spring semester courses. For example, if a student takes 3 credits in the Winter Session and 12 credits in the spring semester, they would be assessed tuition for the 3 Winter Session credits, and then assessed tuition and fees at the full-time rate for the 12 spring semester credits.

Will students be able to apply scholarship funds or student financial to cover Winter Session expenses? 

Winter Session tuition charges will be due on January 20, along with Spring 2021 semester charges. Financial Aid will begin applying to the University Bill on Tuesday, January 19.  There will not be separate financial aid awards processed for Winter Session courses, but the aid applying on January 19 will pay any charges on the University Bill.  Students will have their Direct and/or private loan eligibility increased for their enrollment in Winter Session courses.

Does enrollment in Winter Session courses count toward Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?  

Winter Session courses will not have a separate SAP assessment but will be included with the assessment following Spring 2021.

Can a student use GI Bill Benefits for the Winter Session?

Yes.  In order to be considered a full time student and receive the maximum payment, a student must take 4.0 credit hours during the 5 week session. Students will not be automatically certified for the winter session and must contact for certification. Additional information required for VR&E students. Note: The VA WILL NOT combine winter session and spring credits for full time enrollment. A student using GI Bill benefits must be enrolled in at least 12.0 credits from January 25 through May 8 to be considered full time for the VA.

When will I be able to see the charges related to registering for Winter Session courses?

The U-bill will begin showing charge activity related to course registrations for Winter Session and spring semester on 12/10/2020.  The official spring 2021 U-bill notifications will be sent via email beginning 01/01/2021.

When will my tuition for Winter Session be due?

All spring 2021 semester charges including Winter Session will be due 01/20/2021.

Payments made during the 2020 calendar year for spring 2021 qualified tuition and related expenses may impact possible tax credits.  Please consult your tax professional for additional guidance on tax implications.

Who do students contact for billing or payment plan questions?

Accounts Receivable Office

(515) 294-7388

Dropping a Course and Cancelled Courses

When will the drop deadlines for Winter Session occur? 

The last day to drop a winter session course without extenuating circumstances is Friday, January 8, 2021.

Due to the accelerated nature of the course material and dates, there will be a smaller window in which to complete schedule change adjustments for Winter Session courses via AccessPlus.  The deadline to drop a Winter Session course on AccessPlus will be December 16th.  Once the AccessPlus deadline has passed, students may work with their advisor or college student services office to request schedule adjustments of Winter Session courses.

If a student drops a course, will they receive a tuition refund?  

Please visit the tuition adjustment website for details on the refund schedule for canceling or withdrawing from a Winter Session course.

Will a drop during Winter Session count towards a student’s total number of dropped courses? 


How will withdrawals be implemented from this semester?  Is there going to be an Out of Term Withdrawal process as well?  

A withdrawal happens when a student drops ALL classes on or after the first day of the term. Withdrawals for spring 2021 will include consideration of any Winter Session coursework. Withdrawals will be processed subject to the defined withdrawal schedule effective dates. Coursework from session dates which have been completed prior to the withdrawal date will remain on the student’s registration and permanent record.

Will an instructor signature be needed to drop a course in Period 2?  

The drop process will be the same as for other semesters including requiring an instructor signature in Period 2.

Once a student completes a Winter Session course, may they withdraw from ISU in the spring semester?

Withdrawals may be processed subject to the defined withdrawal schedule effective dates.  Coursework from session dates which have been completed will remain on the student’s registration and permanent record.

If a student registers for a Winter Session course and the course is cancelled because of low enrollment, will they have a guaranteed seat in the same course for spring semester?

No. A student will need to register for the spring semester course.

Academic Progress 

Can a student complete a course during the Winter Session that is a prerequisite for a spring semester course and enroll in the spring course?

Yes, as long as the student receives the required grade in the prerequisite course, they will be allowed to take the spring semester course.  The student may have to work with the department of a course enforcing prerequisites to ensure the grade and course completion of the prerequisite is noted.

Will Winter Session courses count towards spring full-time status? If so, how will that limit be known or enforced? 

To determine Spring 2021 course load, total credit hours from a student’s winter session course load and spring 2021 course load will determine their spring total credits (e.g., full-time; ¾-time, etc.).

Would students need to request credit limit increases to go over 18 credits for the combined Winter Session and spring semester? 

Regarding increased credit limits, we are not anticipating the automation of any process to automatically increase a student’s credit limit if they are registering for Winter Session courses. An increase to a credit limit will be handled in the same manner as it is currently by students contacting their advisor.

  • Example: A student who has a credit limit of 18, and who wants to enroll in four credits of Winter Session coursework and 16 credits of Spring 2021 coursework, will need to request an increase to their credit limit through their academic advisor.

Student Support Services

Will resources from the Parks Library be available during Winter Session?

The university libraries will be open during the majority of Winter Session. Details are available on the library website.

Finals, Grades, Incompletes, and Other Academic Policies

The Winter Session schedule list “finals” as only on January 21, 2021. Are finals only scheduled for that day? 

Yes. The maximum number of credits a student enrolls in will be 4 credits. Most all courses offered during Winter Session will be 3-4 credits.

When will Winter Session grades be posted? 

Faculty will post grades in Canvas on January 25, 2021.  Because Winter Session is technically part of the spring semester 2021, grades will be available on transcripts and AccessPlus Grade Reports on Friday, May 12, 2021.

Faculty will have their Grade Book completed and viewable in Canvas by 9:00 p.m. (central time) Monday, January 25, 2021. These grades will be referenced by students, academic advisors, and departments when evaluating whether or not the Winter Session course has satisfied the prerequisite requirements for a Spring 2021 course.

Will a student be able to have an incomplete grade assigned for Winter Session, if needed? 

Yes, if the situation is appropriate for an Incomplete grade:

  • Student is passing at the time of the request
  • Extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control prevents completion of the course

If the instructor agrees to an Incomplete, the student and instructor should complete, sign, and retain an Incomplete contract by the end of Winter Session.

If the student completes the work to resolve the Incomplete by the end of Spring 2021, the instructor will submit the actual grade earned, not an Incomplete.

If the Incomplete is not resolved by the end of Spring 2021, the instructor will submit the Incomplete as part of Spring grade processing.

Note: An unresolved Incomplete grade will automatically be changed to F after one calendar year (counting from the end of Spring semester 2021) or just prior to graduation, whichever is first.

If a student only needs one more course to graduate, and it is offered during Winter Session, will they be able to graduate at the end of Winter Session?

No. Degrees will still be recorded in May 2021 for the spring semester.

Can a student be reinstated for Winter Session? 

Technically, yes, a student who is reinstated for Spring 2021 may enroll in Winter Session coursework; however, enrollment in Winter Session coursework must be approved by the College’s Academic Standards Committee when working with the student to develop their program of study upon reinstatement. We would caution any student who has been reinstated for Spring 2021 from enrolling in Winter Session coursework since these courses are offered at a greatly accelerated pace and, thus, could negatively affect the student’s ability to be successful.

As a reminder, it is strongly recommended that students should not enroll in more than four (4) credits of Winter Session coursework; this recommendation is in place given the pace of the coursework and the university’s strong desire to ensure the success of our students.

If a student is dismissed after the fall semester, may they enroll in a Winter Session course?

No. The existing dismissal policy still applies. If a student who is dismissed at the end of Fall is registered for a Winter Session course, the Winter course(s) will automatically be dropped.  Note: Spring semester courses will not be dropped until immediate reinstatement petition deadlines have passed, allowing for review and decisions to be made for eligible applicants by the respective college academic standards committee.

How will Winter Session impact warning/probation/reinstatement statuses? 

Winter Session grades will be collected and included in calculations for Spring 2021’s Academic Progress and Probation process.

How will the grades a student earns during Winter Session affect their eligibility for the Dean’s list?

Winter Session grades will be included and recorded as part of spring semester. There will not be a Dean’s list specifically for Winter Session.