Names and Name Changes

Cornell recognizes that many community members use a name other than their primary name and as a student, you are able to designate a preferred first and middle name. The Office of the University Registrar will strive to use preferred name on internal documents, in communications and, where appropriate and feasible, in information systems and reporting.

Preferred name will appear in the Cornell University directory and in other University records and documents including class lists, grade rosters, and university ID cards. Some records, such as health and insurance or financial aid, require use of a legal name.

Generally, you can set a preferred name to any name, but we reserve the right to delete a preferred name if it is inappropriate or offensive. A periodic review of preferred first and middle names will be conducted by the Office of the University Registrar to identify and remove inappropriate or offensive names.

Making Changes to Preferred Name

Students may set their preferred name at any time. To edit your preferred name:

  • Log into Student Essentials

  • Click on Update Preferred First Name

  • Edit name and click Update Preferred Name

Student Primary Name

Primary name is used for official university business. Primary first, middle, and last names will be used for transcripts and diplomas, enrollment and degree certifications; for federal, state, and compliance reporting, and in other circumstances where primary name is necessary.

NetIDs are generally composed of the initials of the student’s primary first, middle, and last name.

View your primary name by logging into Student Essentials.

Making Changes to Primary Name

To update or change your primary name on your student record, please bring a copy of the appropriate documentation (U.S. passport, birth certificate, or court-issued document such as a marriage or divorce certificate), photo identification, and a completed Name Change Form to the Office of the University Registrar in B07 Day Hall.

A state issued driver's license is not an acceptable form of proof for a name change.

If you are not in Ithaca you can send the completed name change form and copies of the appropriate documentation via fax, (607) 255-6262, or mail: Office of the University Registrar, B07 Day Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

For International students on a Visa, your primary name must reflect the name that appears on your Visa. Contact the Office of Global Learning International Services at or (607) 255-5243 for assistance with updating your name.