Preferred/Proper Name Guidelines

 Preferred/Proper Name Guidelines


NIU recognizes that many students use a name other than their legal name to identify themselves. As long as the use of this different name is not for the purposes of misrepresentation, the university acknowledges that a preferred/proper name can be used as reasonably possible for certain university business. The university began a phased implementation and use of a preferred/proper name in November 2016. During this phase, preferred/proper name is used on class rosters, grade rosters, online directory, O365 and Blackboard. Also, preferred/proper name displayed on the OneCard is available to students.

The legal name will be maintained and used for certain academic records, business, and data integrity purposes. Use of a legal name include, but is not limited to, admission documents, official transcripts, diplomas, certification of enrollment or graduation, employment records, financial documents, reports for federal and state agencies and financial aid documents.

Generally documents using the legal name are issued to the student. In other cases, it is important for the student that other entities can connect the document or credential to them currently or in the future. In some cases, it may also be necessary to clarify that a preferred/proper name is different than the legal name. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, official interactions with law enforcement and verification of medical records. 

Any student who goes by a name that is different from their legal name can designate this within the University’s student information system. Preferred/proper names are limited to using upper and lower case letters, space, dash(-), apostrophe(’), and backwards apostrophe (`). 

Inappropriate use of the preferred/proper name, including but not limited to misrepresentation, attempting to avoid a legal obligation, or a name that is deemed to contain inappropriate or offensive language can be denied. Please note preferred/proper name changes are only applicable to applicants and currently enrolled students.

Frequently Asked Questions