Frequently Asked Questions
- As a parent, where is the best place for me to find answers to my questions about issues concerning my student?
- What is FERPA and how does it affect my student and me?
- Is it possible to access my student's financial and academic records?
- Who gets the bills?
- What academic resources are available to my student?
- How and when do students get their grades??
- What student jobs are offered?
- What can I do if my student wants to come home every weekend?
- When is the best time to travel home for the first time?
- Do you have any suggestions on how to help my student adjust?
- How safe is ISU? What if a campus emergency occurs?
- What is my student’s mailing address on campus?
- My student wants to change room assignments – what should they do?
- Health – Are student health services available? What do students do when they get sick?
- Fitness/rec services – how can my student stay in shape, where can my student work out?
- What is the Greek System like at ISU?
- What if my student breaks the rules?
- Firearms/Alcohol policy
- Do students need a car?
- Is there transportation for students to the Twin Cities or Chicago during break times?
- In short, what is the general advice for parents?
The Info for Parents and families page will be the first website to check out! Always up-to-date, our site provides new information, dates, links to resources and departments to get you the information you need. You will want to bookmark our site and visit it often. The Iowa State University page has a very extensive website as well.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the privacy of educational records. Once a student turns 18 or attends a postsecondary institution, rights that had been the parents' are transferred to the student. These rights include inspecting educational records and requesting that inaccurate records be corrected. Generally, the student's written permission must be obtained before any information from his or her educational records can be released. Directory information (including name, address, etc.) can still be released without the student's permission unless the student has formally requested otherwise. The U.S. Department of Education website contains more information on FERPA. Parents may find that University officials, including academic advisors, the Dean of Students Office staff, and Registrar's Office staff, are unable to speak with them regarding their students in order to comply with FERPA regulations. In some cases, the student must grant permission for specific University officials to speak with his or her parents. Some offices have a form for students to fill out in those cases.
Q. Who gets the bills?
The University views your student as an adult, and is required by federal law to protect his or her privacy as such. Students must retrieve their student account billing information online. Once a month, Iowa State University sends out an email indicating that their bill is viewable on AccessPlus. This includes all student account transactions such as: payments received, and charges and credits for tuition, fees, and housing. The University does not mail paper billing statements. It is a good idea to discuss this before Move-in Day. The tuition and fees charges are assessed soon after students arrive on campus and have to be paid in a fairly short period of time. Deciding who will write the first big check is important. If you have questions about bills or payments, visit the ISU Financial Aid office or at 0210 Beardshear from 8am-5pm M-F, no appointment necessary!
Yes, access to financial and academic records is possible, but only with the student's consent, or by demonstrating that the student is a dependent as defined by the IRS. Your student must establish that individuals (such as a parent or guardian) may view his/her student account billing information and allow that person to make online payments. The procedure for how to do this is found by the student logging into their AccessPlus account and setting up a “Third Party Access” found on the left hand side of the page.
In most cases, students are willing to share this information with you, so we encourage you to keep those lines of communication open. Students can print out a copy of their grades to send to you.
The Academic Success Center at (515) 294-6624 provides students with an array of services including tutors, academic coaching, supplemental instructions, workshops and much more! Visit their website to learn more!
Q. How and when do students get their grades?
At the end of each semester, students may view their grades online on AccessPlus. In addition, all students may view their mid-term grades through AccessPlus. These are grades that are given half-way through each semester to allow students to gage their progress within each course.
Students can find off-campus and on-campus employment through the AcessPlus Student Job Board. There are many jobs available throughout the campus. Many students have financial aid packages that require student employment each semester. Whatever the reason, on campus employment is not only a good source of additional income, but also a way to get connected to this community, and to meet other students and professional staff members.
It is normal for your student to be homesick when first arriving on campus. One semester is the average length of time for everyone to adjust to the change. Wanting to visit friends at home or at another college sometimes explains why your student wants to leave campus. This may delay adjustment to college life.
An important thing for you as a parent to realize is that until new close friendships are made, you may be the one your student confides in about day-to-day problems. Parents can become overly anxious when, in fact, the student just needed someone to listen. The next time you talk to your student, he or she may not even remember the problem. Usually when your student gets involved in new activities and meets new people things improve.
For more information on student involvement, visit the Web sites of the Student Organizations, Student Union Board, and the Student Activities Center.
Q. When is the best time to travel home for the first time?
Students recommend that new students wait a couple months before going home for the first time, citing Thanksgiving to be a good goal. Being here forces students to connect.
Q. Do you have any suggestions on how to help my student adjust?
Encourage your student to stay at school. Suggest your student to check out student organizations on during ClubFest or WelcomeFest. There are more than 800 Student Organizations and Clubs and many students make new friends who have similar interests through these organizations.
If possible go to campus and visit your student. You can take him or her out to lunch or dinner. Make sure your student has a chance to communicate regularly with your family, especially siblings. Keep in touch using the phone, text messages, e-mails, Facetime, Skype, and instant messages. Send cards - electronic cards or creating them on your computer sends the personal message you want and can be faster than trying to find the right one at the store.
If you are concerned about a problem, refer your student to Student Assistance and Outreach. Their phone number is 515.294.1020.
The ISU campus strives to ensure a safe learning experience for all students. To learn more about the safety measures in place please visit the Department of Public Safety. In addition, the ISU Alert is the campus warning system. Students can update their ISU Alert information through AccessPlus.
Students love care packages from home! Residence hall mail is managed by the Department of Residence and often the mailboxes are accessed by all the residents that share the room. Knowing how to address mail can be tricky. Below is an example of how to address mail to your student. If you need more in depth information, please check out their website for more information!
Resident's Full Name
Room # Hall Name House Name
Iowa State University
Ames, IA Zip Code
Q. My student wants to change room assignments – what should they do?
Please check out the Department of Residence website concerning room changes.
Yes, The "Thielen Student Health Center is a full-service medical clinic on campus across from State Gym, staffed with physicians, advanced registered nurse practitioners, and nurses. The medical staff is available to care for students’ primary health care needs and offers a full range of medical services. To make an appointment please call 515-294-5801. For hours, provider information, and all other inquiries please visit www.cyclonehealth.org “
Q. Fitness/rec services – how can my student stay in shape, where can my student work out?
There are many opportunities for your student to participate in fitness or recreation services. Some of these include fitness classes, weightlifting equipment, cycling, or swimming. As an enrolled student, access to the State Gym, Lied Rec. Center, or Beyer is free! Check out their website for more information.
The Greek System has been an integral part of ISU since 1875. They have several opportunities to get involved as well. Visit their website for more information or the page just for Parents and Families
The Office of Judicial Affairs is responsible for coordinating and administering the judicial process at Iowa State University. This includes receiving reports of alleged misconduct, ensuring that students receive due process and fair treatment throughout the hearing process, and maintaining students' disciplinary records. Additionally, the Office of Judicial Affairs staff is committed to informing students of their rights as members of the university community and educating them regarding the responsibilities they have to themselves and the other members of the university community. Visit Judicial Affairs website to learn more.
Q. Is alcohol allowed on campus?
Alcohol may be used only in ways that neither harm nor degrade the individual or the university community. The university community must encourage responsible behavior for those individuals who consume alcohol and respect the rights of individuals who choose not to consume alcohol. Consistent with these rights, the institution will encourage responsible decision-making regarding the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Please see their website for more specific information regarding their alcohol policy.
Q. Are firearms allowed on campus?
The possession or use of weapons is prohibited on campus and in the course of university-related activities unless authorized through the Firearms and Other Weapons Application process.
Weapons include any pistol, revolver, shotgun, machine gun, rifle or other firearm, BB or pellet gun, Taser or stun gun, bomb, grenade, mine or other explosive or incendiary device, ammunition, archery equipment, dagger, stiletto, switchblade knife, or knife having a blade exceeding five inches in length. Residents of university housing may possess knives having a blade exceeding five inches for cooking purposes (681 IAC §13.14(5).
Check out the website for more information.
CyRide is a transportation option (wheelchair accessible) that is free to students when they show their student ID card. They have routes throughout campus and the greater Ames community. A student can navigate campus and the Ames community without a car. Many students find having a bike also helps with transportation issues. Their bike must have a permit to park on campus.
CIT Charters facilitates chartered buses to the Twin Cities and to Chicago for Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break, and Spring Break. You can find out more at their website.
Also, the Government of the Student Body (GSB) provides a ride share service. You can find out more about this option at their website.
Q. In short, what general advice do you have for parents?
- Be proud of your students.
- Enjoy the summer, because peace and quiet can be loud and startling to adult ears.
- Teach them how to balance a checkbook and how to budget their money each month.
- Discuss the financial basics such as who is responsible for paying what and how financial exchanges will be made.
- Teach them how to do laundry.
- Remind them that you want to learn about their experiences at Iowa State University and communicate with them.
- Encourage them to explore interests and passions and to talk with advisors, career counselors and others along the way.
- Communicate about how often you expect to hear from your student. Be reasonable, because your student will get busy! Once a week is often a good base to work from.
- Know that saying goodbye can be difficult and there are others who are sharing your experience. It helps to talk about it.
- Do not immediately change their home space. Their bedrooms mean a lot to them.
- Do not move without telling them. They will find you and be upset.
- Do not be surprised if brothers and sisters who used to fight miss one another a lot.
- Take time for yourself. You have done a great job and should reward yourself.
- Trust them. They have learned a great deal from you.
- Be prepared for the changes that come with growth. You will be growing and changing, too.
- Come to campus to visit them from time to time. Phone first. Let them show you their new world.