Change your preferred name in student records
You can identify yourself within the university, including in some official records, with a preferred first and/or middle name (not last name) that differs from your legal name. This is completely optional. Examples of when students might choose to use a preferred name include:
- You prefer to be called by a nickname instead of your legal name (e.g., “Jackie” instead of “Jacqueline”)
- You would rather not have your middle name display as part of your commonly used campus name;
- You have chosen a name that reflects your gender identity
- You are an International student who prefers to use a specific name while studying in the United States.
As long as your preferred name is not used for misrepresentation, it will appear instead of your legal name in many university systems and documents—except where your legal name is required for a business or legal need.
For a step-by-step guide to viewing and editing your preferred name, see: https://kb.wisc.edu/registrar/97613
Where your legal name will still appear
Your legal name is required to appear on transcripts, diplomas, financial aid documents, payroll, and federal immigration documents.
In some cases, it may be necessary to clarify that your preferred name is different that your legal name, such as verification of medical records or official interactions with law enforcement.
- UW directory. Your preferred name will appear as the main name in the wisc.edu people directory, followed with “Also known as:” and your legal name. To hide your legal name in the directory, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If your preferred name has been properly entered via MyUW, you can request a Wiscard with your preferred name on the front face. Your legal name will appear on the back side for identity verification. Replacement Wiscards are free as long as you surrender your old Wiscard.
- NetID and wisc.edu email address. Your NetID is based on your legal name and won’t change if you set a preferred name. You can request a change in your NetID after you complete a legal name change in your student record. Read about changing your NetID here.
- F-1 or J-1 student visas. If you are an international student, you will use your legal name (the name on your passport) on forms like the I-20 and DS-2019.
- Transcript and diploma. Your UW–Madison transcript and diploma will always be printed with your full legal name. If you follow the steps to change your legal name in academic records, you can order new transcripts and a duplicate diploma. You can choose to have your preferred name appear in the official commencement ceremony program and related communications when you graduate.
Limits on preferred name choices
It is a violation of the UW–Madison Preferred Name Policy to indicate a preferred name for the purposes of misrepresentation or fraud. Fraud and misrepresentation may also violate UW System Student Nonacademic Disciplinary Procedures, chapters 17.09.09, 17.09.10, and/or 17.09.11.
Any preferred name that would be generally considered to be an attempt at misrepresentation or fraud, or interpreted as offensive, will be removed by the Office of the Registrar. The student’s legal name will revert to the default legal name displayed on campus systems. The Wiscard office will also be notified of the removed name.
If a Wiscard has already been issued with the removed preferred name:
- Wiscard services connected to the Wiscard with the removed preferred name will be suspended and the card invalidated.
- The cardholder will be asked to surrender the invalid Wiscard.
- A new Wiscard will be issued to the cardholder at their own cost (replacement Wiscards cost $25).
- For students, refusal to surrender the invalid card may be violation of UW System Student Nonacademic Disciplinary Procedures, chapter 17. Cases may be forwarded to the Dean of Students Office.
- Cases of misuse and refusal to surrender invalid Wiscards by UW employees will be forwarded to the appropriate human resources representative.
Name display in the campus directory
The information that the Office of the Registrar has on record may not be the same as that which is displayed in the online directory because there is a delay between the time you make a change to your name and when the updated information appears in the directory. If your listing is inaccurate a week after you have initiated a name change with our office and your employing department, if applicable, consult the directory updates information, the help documents related to making directory corrections, or contact the DoIT Help Desk at 264-HELP (264-4357).