What to consider

Entering a name of use publically into the VCU system that is different than your legal name is a significant decision. A change of this type impacts a large number of systems and processes both at VCU and beyond.

We want you to make the most informed decision possible about whether entering into a public system a name of use other than a legal name is the right decision for you.

It is your responsibility to communicate your decision to all the necessary parties when selecting a name of use other than your legal name. This includes those outside the VCU system who may not know your name of use and those within the VCU system who do not have access to your legal first name.

Before changing your name of use, consider:

  • Once you make this change, VCU will utilize your name of use wherever applicable.
    • This is how VCU will know you; how faculty, staff and other students will search for you and how VCU will address you in official communications, including in mail that is sent to your permanent address (for many students, this means your parents’ home).
    • Employees’ information is available to people outside of VCU through the online directory.
  • This is a VCU-only change.
    • While you will be known in VCU systems by your name of use, updating VCU systems does not update systems outside of VCU. You will need to make any updates to systems outside VCU directly, and some may require you to provide proof of legal name change in order to update your information.
    • Changing your name through VCU systems is not the same as going through a legal name change. It is your responsibility to coordinate your name with all other legal documents (driver’s license, passport, etc.). Visit our Resources page for information about changing your legal name. 
  • Your professional organizations may have a different name for you.
    • You are responsible for informing them about your name of use if you wish to do so.
    • Your professional achievements may be known by multiple names and, thus may require explanation and/or integration of this information.
  • Your applications for jobs or graduate school may have a different name for you.
    • You are responsible for informing both the future institution and your recommenders. We advise that you communicate clearly with individuals who may recommend you about your identifying information at VCU and outside VCU, as needed. 
  • If you use your VCU ID as your voter ID, your VCU ID name must match the voter register.
    • You can obtain a Virginia state ID at the Virginia DMV if you choose to change your VCU ID and are in need of an official ID with your legal name. 

Where will VCU use my legal name?

You may receive some communication from VCU that utilizes your legal name. Your legal name will remain in specific records, including, but not limited to:

  • Financial aid
  • Academic transcripts
  • Tax documents
  • Immigration/visa documents
  • Health insurance

VCU will make reasonable efforts to protect your privacy, including related to your use of a name other than your legal name. However, because VCU maintains records of your name of use and legal name, it is possible that both will be disclosed. The law requires VCU to release certain records in response to lawfully issued subpoenas, to public records requests under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and as part of required reports to certain state or federal agencies.


VCU will notify you if it receives a request or subpoena for records containing your identifiable information, including records of any name other than your name of use, and provide you an opportunity to object. You should familiarize yourself with VCU’s policy on student privacy under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).


FOIA requires VCU to release a copy of your employment contract, if applicable, as well as “records of the name, position, job classification, official salary, or rate of pay of, and records of the allowances or reimbursements for expenses paid to” the university. In addition, the Virginia employee salary database pulls data from the Virginia Department of Human Resources to populate its online database. These are some of the more likely situations that may lead to release of records of your names to the public.