Chapter 2 - Registration, Fee Assessment, and Withdrawal Procedures

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2.1 - Registration

All students who attend classes at ISU must register and pay assessed tuition and fees. The ISU Office of the Registrar’s website at is the official source of information about registration for all students at ISU. Specific dates for registration are listed:

  • on the Registrar’s Web page,
  • on the University Calendar,
  • in the Iowa State Daily, and
  • on many department bulletin boards.

Registration for summer session should be completed during the spring at the same time as registration for fall semester. All students are encouraged to register for courses on the Web through AccessPlus. Detailed instructions are provided at

2.1.1 Audit Registration

Audit registration means taking courses without receiving formal credit. The audit policy provisions are as follows:

  • Instructors must approve ALL audits.
  • Students must register for audits by day 10 of the semester.
  • Changes to or from an audit must be made in the first 10 days of the semester.
  • Students are assessed tuition and fees as though they were taking the course for credit.
  • The course DOES NOT count in determining full-time student status.

Audited courses do not appear on the student’s permanent record unless the “Audit(s) to Appear on Transcript” form is completed and signed by the student, course instructor, and major professor. Copies of this form, which are available from the Graduate College website, must be filed with the Graduate College, 1137 Pearson Hall. (For a list of Graduate College forms, check the Graduate College’s website at After the fifth class day, if a student changes a regular course to an audit, that course will appear on their permanent record as a drop. Audits are not acceptable as registration for loan deferments.

Audits may be listed on the program of study, but do not carry credit.

2.1.2 Cancellation of Registration

Students wishing to cancel registration in coursework must call or write the Office of the Registrar before the first day of classes to avoid tuition assessment. A letter of confirmation is sent to each student from whom notification is received. A student who calls should request the name of the person taking the call and make a record of the name as well as the time and date of the call. Beginning the first day of classes, students must formally withdraw from the university in order to terminate their registration.

2.1.3 Tuition Adjustment for Full Course Load Reduction to a Partial Course Load

If a graduate student changes from a full course load to a partial course load, there is a tuition adjustment based upon the effective date of the change. Consult the ISU Schedule of Classes or Tuition and Fees website for more information on tuition adjustment.

2.1.4 Doctoral Post Prelim Continuous Registration

Doctoral students who have completed coursework and passed (full or conditional) the preliminary oral examination are required to register each fall and spring term, regardless of whether university facilities, equipment, or staff time are used in person or in absentia.

Continuous registration may be maintained by taking 1) required and/or elective courses or research hours to complete the plan of study or 2) Doctoral Continuous Registration (GR ST 681A). Doctoral Continuous Registration (GR ST 681A) requires a one credit hour tuition and fees payment and is not allowed on the POSC. Registration for GR ST 681A is required only in the fall and spring terms.

If a temporary lapse in a student’s academic program is required due to military service, medical leave, maternity leave, or personal/family leave, a Ph.D. student may petition the Graduate College to be allowed to register for Doctoral Post Prelim Registration (GR ST 680), which allows for the assessment of a special minimum fee only. Note that registration in GR ST 680 1) is not allowed after the completion of the final oral examination, 2) is not sufficient registration for the term the preliminary or final oral examination is taken, 3) does not defer student loans, 4) needs to be requested each term, and 5) is required only in the fall and spring terms.

2.1.5 Registration and Graduation

Doctoral students must register during the term of the preliminary oral examination, and all graduate students must register during the term of the final oral examination for a minimum of 1 credit or for Examination Only (GR ST 681B) if no course work is needed. Examination Only (GR ST 681B) requires payment for one credit hour tuition and fees and is not allowed on the POSC. If students take the final oral examination between terms (including the first day of classes), registration can be either for the term before or the term after the examination. A student who fails to register as specified above must complete the appropriate registrations before the "Graduate Student Approval Form" is signed by the Graduate College.

Graduate students who are not required to take a final oral examination should complete all required coursework on the POS before or during the term of graduation. Any transfer credits must be completed the term before the graduation term and follow normal transfer rules. Upon conferral of a graduate degree, there will be a hold on future registration. Several options are available to students who wish to continue taking classes (see Chapter 7 for more information on releasing the graduation hold).

2.1.6 Credit Load Limitations

Registration in credit courses is limited to a maximum of 15 credits per semester (10 credits for summer session) for graduate students. Maximum limits for graduate students are shown in the following table:

Appointment Base Semester Summer Session
no appointment 15 credits 10 credits
1/4 - time or less 15 credits 10 credits
over 1/4 - time to 1/2 time 12 credits 6 credits
over 1/2 - time to 3/4 - time 9 credits 5 credits

The credit-hour limits for graduate students may be exceeded only in exceptional circumstances with the written recommendation of the major professor. For more information on registration requirements for those students on assistantship appointments, see Graduate Students on Assistantship in Chapter 3.

2.1.7 Full-Time and Part-Time Students

During the academic year, graduate students not on assistantship must be registered for a minimum of nine credits to be considered full-time students or five credits to be considered half-time students. During the summer term, students need to check with the Office of Student Financial Aid. Students on an assistantship appointment during the academic year are considered full-time.

2.1.8 Interim Registration

Registration for special work between semesters and during certain vacation periods cannot exceed one credit for each week the student is in residence. From the end of spring semester to the beginning of fall semester, a maximum of 15 credits (ten summer session + five interim) may be earned. To register for interim courses, the student should complete a student schedule, obtain signatures of the major professor(s) and the graduate classification officer in the Graduate College, and process registration materials through the Office of the Registrar, Fee Assessment (10 Enrollment Services Center). Interim registration credits are combined with those of the next term and tuition and are assessed accordingly, except between the summer session and fall semester. For that particular period, tuition and fees are assessed separately.

2.1.9 Off-Campus Course Registration

Students who take off-campus courses taught by members of the graduate faculty must register for off-campus credit. Only students who are enrolled in graduate off-campus degree programs and who register for research credit (599 or 699) as part of the program will be allowed to register in an off-campus section of the research course.

However, if an off-campus student is enrolled only in research credits, they must be registered for the Graduate College minimum of one credit. Registration in these sections will be restricted to students who are in the off-campus program. Thus, graduate students in on-campus programs will not be allowed to register for an off-campus section as a mechanism to avoid or lower tuition and/or fees. Instructions for registering for off-campus credit courses are available from the website at

2.1.10 Reentry Registration

Reentering graduate students with active status do not need to complete a reentry application, but they should contact their major professor(s) to select courses and to obtain registration information. Students with inactive status must undergo a reinstatement process. Students enter inactive status when they have not been registered for four consecutive terms excluding summer.

2.1.11 International Students Taking CPT and OPT

International students may be required or may choose to supplement their regular coursework with Curricular Practical Training (CPT), or they may wish to engage in Optional Practical Training (OPT) after completing their programs at ISU.

CPT is an academic learning experience (sometimes an internship) related to the major field of study that allows students to apply the knowledge that they gained through their coursework in a business environment. Students can engage in CPT while they are still completing their programs at ISU. Participation in CPT is authorized by the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) after a student submits an electronic application. A student needs to be enrolled in a CPT-related course each semester they engage in CPT. Some students may use internship coursework credits. If no formal instruction is included as a part of CPT activities, an international graduate student may opt to take an internship/practicum course for R credit. If an internship course is not available in the student’s discipline, they may take GR ST 697 for R credits. However, GR ST 697 is acceptable only for students engaging in full-time CPT. Similarly, departmental courses like this cannot be used for part-time CPT. The internship R credits may not be used to meet the registration requirement for the term of the preliminary or final oral examination. If the CPT is related to a student’s research, they may use research credit registration for CPT.

OPT, authorized by the U.S. Federal Government, allows a student to work in the U.S. in a job related to the student’s major for up to 12 months after completing their program at ISU. Note that a student is considered to have completed their program at the end of the semester in which they have defended the dissertation/thesis/creative component. Students should apply for OPT well in advance of completing their programs, as the OPT authorization process can take more than three months. Furthermore, students who pursued a STEM major are eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of their OPT. There are additional requirements which should be reviewed when considering the STEM OPT extension.

The complete information about CPT and OPT, is available on the ISSO website ( The International Student Advisers at the ISSO will also be able to answer any questions about the specifics of CPT and OPT.

2.1.12 Registration Changes

After a student has enrolled for classes, registration is completed for the semester unless the student wishes to change the class schedule. Changes must be processed before the deadlines printed in the university calendar, available on the Registrar’s website at in the ISU Schedule of Classes. Students who fail to attend class are not dropped automatically; they must submit a “Request for Withdrawal” form. Consult the ISU Schedule of Classes for instructions on dropping and adding classes during the three periods of the term.

2.1.13 ISU Staff Members and Credit Limit Requirements

Any full-time member of the research, instructional, or extension staff at the rank of instructor, research associate, or assistant scientist may carry up to six course credits per semester and three credits per summer session, subject to the approval of the head of the department or section and provided it does not interfere with other duties. This privilege may be extended to members of the research, instructional, or extension staffs at the rank of assistant professor with approval of the college dean and the Dean of the Graduate College. Staff members at the rank of associate professor or professor cannot become candidates for graduate degrees from ISU.

2.2 - Payment of Tuition and Fees

Once registered, the graduate student is responsible for all tuition and fees. Tuition and fee schedules for the current year are published on the Registrar’s website at For more information on fee payment options and other concerns, browse the Account Receivables website at

2.2.1 Past Due Accounts

Graduate students who owe past due accounts will have an accounts receivable hold placed on their registrations. Those students with past due accounts from previous terms are dropped from enrollment if the past due bills are not paid in full by the first day of classes of the term for which they are registering. Students who have their registration canceled for nonpayment of tuition and fees can be reinstated with written permission of the Graduate College. A late registration fee will be assessed.

2.2.2 Late Registration Fee

During the fall and spring semesters, graduate students who do not complete their registration before the first day of classes are charged a late registration fee of $30 the first week of classes, $60 the second week of classes, and $100 the third week of classes or later. Graduate Students on an assistantship appointment must register and pay tuition and fees for each term in which they hold an appointment for more than five class days. (See Credit Load Limitations.)

2.2.3 Graduate Students on Assistantship

State of Iowa students with graduate assistantships:

  • 1/4 time or more for three months (four weeks in the summer) or more are assessed Iowa resident tuition at the full-time rate in fall and spring terms and per credit hour in summer terms and may earn a tuition scholarship.
  • 1/4 time or more for more than five class days but less than three months (four weeks in the summer) are assessed tuition by the credit hour and are not eligible for a tuition scholarship.

Nonresident students (non - Iowa students and nonresident aliens) with graduate assistantships:

  • 1/4 time or more for three months (four weeks in the summer) or more
    • retain their nonresidency classification,
    • are assessed resident tuition at the full-time rate in fall and spring terms and per credit hour in summer terms as long as the graduate assistantship is continued, and
    • may earn a tuition scholarship.
  • 1/4 time or more for more than five class days but less than three months (four weeks in the summer)
    • retain their nonresidency classification,
    • are assessed tuition by the credit hour, and
    • are not eligible for a tuition scholarship

Students on restricted admission status or probation may be appointed to an assistantship on a term basis and may not be eligible for a tuition scholarship. If an appointment encompasses fewer than five class days, no registration is required. Assistants who do not register by midterm of the current term will be registered by the Graduate College; applicable tuition and late fees will be added to their university bill. The minimum registration requirement for a graduate assistant is one credit (GR ST 681B or 681C meets this one credit requirement). However, as noted above, students on an assistantship appointment for three months during the fall or spring terms will be assessed Iowa resident tuition at the full-time rate. Graduate assistants who resign their appointments (including transfer to another school, employment, etc.), resulting in an assistantship appointment of less than 3 months of the term (or less than four weeks in the summer session), but do not withdraw from the university will:

  • have their tuition recalculated based on their residency status and total number of credits they are registered for,
  • be billed to reimburse for the tuition scholarship, and
  • have a hold placed on future registrations if they fail to repay the tuition scholarship.

2.2.4 Graduate Assistant Spouses and Resident Fees

The nonresident spouse and dependents of a graduate assistant (on appointment for three months or more) are eligible for resident tuition during the period of the assistantship appointment. State of Iowa residency is not granted, but a waiver of nonresident tuition is permitted each semester the appointment is in effect and ends when the appointment is finished.

2.2.5 Graduate Students on Fellowship

Graduate students receiving fellowships that provide for payment of tuition and/or fees are assessed the full-time rate in accordance with their residency status. For additional information regarding fellowships, contact the Graduate College.

2.2.6 Graduate Students on Other Appointments

Graduate students appointed as instructors, research associates, postdoctoral research associates, or assistant professors are approved by the Office of the Registrar for state of Iowa residency and pay resident tuition according to the number of credit hours taken. Spouses of students holding any of these appointments are also approved for state of Iowa residency and pay the same resident tuition. Nonresident students (non-Iowa and nonresident aliens) with the above appointments and their spouses have the nonresident portion of their tuition waived only while the appointment is in effect. State of Iowa residency is not granted as a result of the graduate appointment.

2.2.7 State Residency Determination

State of Iowa residency is not granted as a result of a graduate assistantship appointment. The official determination of the student’s state of residency is made only in the Office of the Registrar.

2.3 - Withdrawal from the University

Withdrawal is not permanent for graduate students; it always applies to a specific term. Reentry is activated when registration for a future term occurs. To withdraw for a specific term, a student must:

  • complete a “Request for Withdrawal” form,
  • have the form signed by the academic adviser or major professor, and
  • submit the signed form to the classification officer in the Graduate College (1137 Pearson Hall).

The effective date of the withdrawal is the date the form is signed by the Graduate College. The withdrawal slip is forwarded to the Office of the Registrar, Tuition and Fees division, 10 Enrollment Services Center, where it is recorded.

If the student completes the withdrawal procedure, no indication of the courses for which the student registered is placed on the permanent record. A notation of withdrawal and the withdrawal date are placed on a student’s permanent record. Students who withdraw are not eligible for incompletes (I marks) during that term. Students who withdraw after completing first half-semester courses receive grades for those courses.

If these procedures for withdrawing from the university are not followed, the instructors of the courses involved will assign whatever grades or marks they consider appropriate. Since these grades may be Fs, the student who fails to follow the prescribed withdrawal procedures may adversely affect their ability to reenter later or transfer to another institution. Students who withdraw before the first day of classes avoid tuition and fee assessment. Fee adjustments for those withdrawing after classes start will vary according to the detailed instructions found on the Tuition and Fees website at The Online and Distance Learning Office has a separate policy for off-campus courses.

2.3.1 Medical/Behavioral Withdrawal

The university may initiate withdrawal of a student in an extreme medical situation where the student is hospitalized and/or otherwise unable to implement the withdrawal process. In such cases, withdrawal is usually initiated by the academic adviser or the college dean. Behavioral situations where it is determined that the student should not remain at the university are usually due to:

  • a need for more intensive or protective psychotherapeutic environment and/or services other than the university can provide; or
  • professional judgment that the student is a clear and present danger to self or others.

In these circumstances, it is the duty of the university to take responsible action for the good of the student and/or others in the university community. Instructions for dealing with these 12 situations are in the “Student Life” section of the Policy Library available on the Web at

2.3.2 Military Duty

Students who are called to active military duty need to contact the Office of the Registrar (214 Enrollment Services Center, 515-294-1840) to discuss their status. Students must provide a copy of the military orders to receive full refund. The Registrar’s staff will discuss with students the various options available. Those options, depending upon the specifics of the call and the time frame, are:

  • receive grades or incompletes for all courses if approved by instructors,
  • receive administrative drops with a refund for some courses and grades/incompletes in other courses if approved by instructors, or
  • withdraw from all current term courses with full refund of tuition and fees.

Also, students should notify their academic advisers, the Department of Residence (515-294-2900) if they are in university housing, and the Office of Student Financial Aid (515-294-2223) if they are receiving financial aid.

2.3.3 Death of a Student

In the event of the death of a student, the Department of Public Safety (515-294-4428) and the Dean of Students Office (210 Student Services Building, 515-294-1020) should be contacted. These offices will contact the appropriate university/city officials. The Dean of Students Office will coordinate interactions and communications between university offices and relatives of the deceased.

2.3.4 Tuition Assessment Appeal after Withdrawal

Students may wish to appeal the refund they received from a withdrawal. To file an appeal of tuition assessment, a student must file with the Office of the Registrar a written letter explaining the reason for the appeal. A form outlining the procedures for appeal is available from the Office of the Registrar, Scheduling and Fees (10 Enrollment Services Center, 515-294-2331).

If there is an additional refund of tuition, a memo stating the reason for adjustment and appropriate appeal materials will be placed on record for the purpose of internal or external audits. However, the date of withdrawal as determined in the college office will not be changed on university records.

If necessary, a student may appeal the decision of the Office of the Registrar to a University Tuition Appeals Review Committee. A student must notify the Office of the Registrar within ten calendar days after receiving the decision of the Office of the Registrar on the original appeal.

The Office of the Registrar will schedule a meeting of the committee within one month after being notified of the request for appeal to the University Tuition Appeals Committee. Then:

  • the committee will review all documentation filed in the original appeal as well as any additional information the student may want to file.
  • the student may also request to present their case to the committee in person.

If a student wants to appeal the decision of the University Tuition Appeals Review Committee, they may submit a written appeal to the Office of the Provost.

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