Preferred First Name

Students who would like to use a name other than their legal first name within the campus community are able to enter a preferred first name, update an existing preferred first name, or delete an existing preferred first name through Student Self-Service. You may view the University policy for acceptable uses of a preferred first name.

Do NOT enter your legal first name as your preferred first name since that will cause redundant records.

Preferred first names will be viewable in the following ways:

  • Students will see both their full legal name and their preferred first name in parentheses throughout Student Self-Service at the top of the pages.
  • Faculty/Instructors/TAs will only see a student’s preferred first name, if one exists, and legal last name on class rosters and grade entry. Otherwise, the legal first and last name will appear.  Use your preferred first name on scantrons, tests, and other items that are handed in since the instructor will see that preferred name on the roster.
  • Advisors and college administrative staff will see a student’s preferred and legal first name.
  • Online directories will display the preferred first name, if one exists, and legal last name, otherwise the legal first and last name.
  • Name associated with Illinois email will display the legal last name, preferred first name.
  • The i-card will show the student’s preferred first name, if one exists, and legal last name on the front of the card. The backside of the i-card will display the full legal name in a smaller font.
  • Students who enter or update a preferred first name later than 2 weeks before the start of a semester may not see the preferred first name replicated in some systems for several days.

Out of concern for the safety and privacy of transgender and nonbinary students, we do not use preferred names on any communication or documentation that will be viewed outside the campus community. We follow this approach to protect against the possible inadvertent disclosure of a preferred name that a student may not have yet chosen to use outside of the University of Illinois.

Preferred First Name vs. Diploma Name: What’s the Difference?
Setting a preferred first name does not automatically change the name that will be listed on a diploma or used at Commencement/Convocation ceremonies. A student must specify a diploma name (see below) to change the name listed on their diploma and other Commencement/Convocation related materials and ceremonies.

Unless a student specifies a diploma name, the legal name is used on diplomas, in the Commencement program, lists of graduates, and related press releases. Students may submit a diploma name by emailing (include UIN). Submission deadlines for May, August, and December graduates to be announced at a later date.

Please be advised that in some situations, the name appearing on your diploma may need to match other legal documents you possess.

Acceptable uses of preferred first name and preferred diploma include:

  • A middle name instead of first name
  • An abbreviated name (Rob instead of Robert, Manny instead of Emmanuel)
  • An Americanized name (Wendy instead of Haiyan)
  • A name which better reflects one’s ethnic, racial or gender identity
  • A name to which you are in the process of legally changing

Contact the Registration Services Unit at or 217-333-6565 with questions about preferred first name for students.