Ball State University recognizes that many members of our community prefer to use names other than their legal names to identify themselves. The University is committed to using a self-identified preferred first name for an individual in our community wherever possible. However, there are certain legal documents and communications that require or have been identified to use an individual’s legal first name.

The university allows any students to use a first name different than their legal name (as listed on their driver’s license, Social Security card, Tax Identification Number card, or passport) on certain university education records. Ball State will display the preferred first name to the university community where feasible and appropriate and make every effort to update reports, documents and systems accordingly.

How to Update Your Preferred Name

Students may submit a preferred first name using their BSU issued email credentials on Self-Service Banner (SSB). Preferred first name is updated under the Personal Information tab and select “Update Preferred Name”.

The legal last name (surname) will remain unchanged and will be included with the preferred first name. Preferred first names are limited to alphabetical characters, a hyphen (-) and a space. The University reserves the right to deny submission of a preferred first name if it is inappropriate in nature. Preferred first name used as misrepresentation or fraud can result in disciplinary action in accordance with University policy. 

Legal Name vs. Preferred Name

The student’s preferred first name may be used in university-related systems and documents except where the use of the legal name is required by law.

Below is a partial listing of areas in which the preferred and legal names will appear:

Preferred first name will appear:

  • Class/grade rosters
  • Commencement program
  • Dean’s List
  • Ebill website
  • Email display and username
  • Online student directory
  • Housing and Residence Life rosters

Legal first name will appear:

  • Billing statements
  • Enrollment verification
  • Financial aid documents
  • Immigration documents
  • Medical documents
  • Official correspondence with external entities
  • Official and unofficial academic transcripts
  • Paychecks/W9S/1098T/Tax forms

Frequently Asked Questions

Ball State offers this preferred name option to members of our community because we recognize that a first name is a personal identification that signifies the uniqueness of each individual. We want members of our community to feel welcome and included by being referred to by their preferred first name.

It’s the name the individual would like to be called while associated with Ball State University. Preferred first name does not require any legal documentation and may be reported via self-service Banner through my.bsu.edu. An individual’s preferred first name is how the individual would like to be addressed by faculty, staff, and students.

Many members of the BSU community use a first name that differs from their legal name and prefers to be referred to as that first name. Reasons are often personal and may include individuals who prefer to use:

  • a middle name instead of a first name
  • an anglicized name
  • a name to which the individual is in the process of legally changing
  • a name that better represents the individuals’ gender identity.

An individual does not have to report a preferred first name to the university. If an individual does not report a preferred name, the individual’s legal name will be used. 

A student can report a preferred name once they have applied to the university and are issued a BSU email username/password.

Faculty and staff may report a preferred name through my.bsu.edu Self Service Banner.

The preferred first name will be used in lieu of a person’s legal first name wherever the legal name is not required. For example, the student’s preferred name will be used in Canvas, on faculty class rosters, on Degree Works, on faculty/grade rosters, housing and residence life rosters, on the ID card, and in the online directory. Legal name is used for federal, state and institutional student financial aid, payroll, and academic transcripts. An earned diploma will print with the legal first name unless the degree candidate notifies Registrar staff of the preferred first name prior to Commencement day of the earned degree term.

To notify the Registrar, send an email with the student full legal name, preferred first name, and ID number.

Pronouns are used in place of people’s names. A preferred pronoun is the pronoun that an individual would like others to use when talking to or about that individual. Some people prefer others to use a gender-neutral or gender-inclusive pronoun when talking to or about them. At the present time, a person cannot report and update a preferred pronoun.

At any time, before or after official enrollment, students may process official name changes or corrections with the Registrar’s Office. A change of legal name requires an official document or court order verifying the correct information at the time the request is made. Learn more.

No. The selection and update of a preferred first name is available as an option, but there is no requirement to have a preferred name. If an individual does not submit a preferred first name, the individual’s legal name will be used.

Yes. Contact the ID Card staff for additional information or refer to the ID Cards section under Preferred Name listed above.

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Student’s may provide abbreviated variations of their legal name when they apply for graduation. The name appearing on a student’s diploma may be different from the legal name. Examples include the option of full first name or initial, the option of including or excluding the middle name or initial, or proper capitalization in a name.

Yes. The student will be assessed the diploma replacement fee and the student must follow guidelines on the submission of a name change.

The university supports preferred names for both students and employees and recognizes that an individual can serve multiple roles. Any individual can update their preferred first name by selecting the “Personal” tab in self-service Banner at my.bsu.edu.

There are a few reasons an office or system might not be using an individual’s preferred first name in some or all communications. Some offices or processes require the use of an individual’s legal name. For example, federal, state financial aid (or enrollment reporting to support federal/state aid), payroll and tax related communication. Even though some processes require the use of the legal name, it is the intent that all university offices use the preferred first name as much as possible in general communications.

If you are an enrolled student and are helping to teach a class (ex: GA or TA), you can update your legal and/or preferred name(s) as described above. Once Banner reflects the change in name, Canvas will pull and display the revision within 24 hours.

For additional questions, contact the Registrar's office.

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Additional Information

Students who have had their legal names changed by the appropriate government entity, agency or court, should inform the university of this change by completion and submission of the Name Change form to the Office of the Registrar. Official documentation showing the name was changed legally is required.

If you would like to have a preferred name on your ID Card you will need to add a preferred name in Self Service Banner (SSB). If you update your preferred name in SSB at or after 3pm, it will not be reflected until the next business day. If you do not enter a preferred name in SSB, then your legal name will be printed on your ID card. If you choose to use a preferred name on your ID card, its use as photo ID may be limited because it does not reflect your legal name.

To get an ID with your preferred name visit the ID Card Office, in BL001. The hours are M-TH 8am-7pm, and F 8am-5pm.

[Please note: Replacement ID cards bearing the preferred first name can be obtained in the ID card office and the standard replacement fee may be assessed.] 

Consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Ball State University allows for the release of Directory Information, as defined under FERPA.