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FAQs, Guides & Toolkits Division of Inclusive Excellence

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Preferred Name FAQs

Sacramento State recognizes that many individuals use names other than their legal (or "primary") names for a variety of personal, cultural, or other reasons. Accordingly, students, faculty, staff, and administrators may use a preferred name (or chosen name) for a variety of university-related purposes when an individual’s legal name is not otherwise required. Please find below a list of frequently asked question and their corresponding answers. If individuals have additional questions related to the use of preferred names, please contact the Division of Inclusive Excellence.

Your Name, Your Choice (Faculty and Staff)

Your Name, Your Choice (Student)

What is a preferred name?

A preferred name is a name an individual chooses to use other than their legal name, which is often the name given at birth and appearing on an individual’s birth certificate or naturalization certificate. There are many reasons someone may choose to use a name other than their legal name. International students, transgender students, students known by middle names or nicknames, and others may wish to use a preferred name. Preferred names may be used for first, middle, and/or last names, provided that the preferred names are not used for the purpose(s) of fraud, misrepresentation, or to evade legal obligations. (back to top)

A legal name is the name that appears on your birth certificate, naturalization certificate, passport, driver’s license, or U.S. Social Security Card. Most Sacramento State systems use the term “primary name” to refer to an individual’s legal name. It's important to note that the term "primary name" is imperfect, as a person's legal name is not always the primary name they use.

An individual’s legal name is required to be used on diplomas, official and unofficial transcripts, official student records, financial aid and scholarship records, DMV related records, and employment and payroll related documentation, including paychecks, benefits enrollment, and medical records. Accordingly, on these types of documents students and employees should expect to continue to see their legal name, the "primary name" listed in the system. (back to top)

Individuals may begin using a preferred name for university-related purposes by logging into My Sac State from the Sacramento State homepage.

Students: Click on Student Center in the center of the page and, in the Personal Information Section, click on Names. Click the Add Preferred Name button. Enter the name you wish to show and then click the Save button.

Faculty, staff, and administrators: Click on Employee Center in the center of the page and then click on the Personal Information Summary link. Click on the Change preferred name button and then click on the Edit Name button. Enter your preferred name and click OK. Then, click the Save button to finalize your changes.

Please note that it may take a few business days for changes to take effect in all systems. (back to top)

Students, faculty, staff and administrators who wish to change their legal (or primary) name must first legally change their name pursuant to state law.

The Student Services Center can assist students with a legal name change. After a student has obtained a certified copy of the legal name change document (i.e., legal name change or marriage certificate), the student will need to complete the Change of Name or Social Security form and return it (and all other necessary documentation) to the Student Services Center, Lassen Hall.

Human Resources can assist faculty, staff, and administrators with a legal name change. Once an employee has obtained the certified copy of the legal name change document (i.e., legal name change or marriage certificate), the employee should complete the Employee Action Request form and submit it and the certified document to the Payroll Department, Del Norte Hall. Please also bring a photo ID and an original social security card, both reflecting your new name. (back to top)

How does a change to my legal (or primary) name affect my preferred name?

An individual who legally changes their name, must submit necessary paperwork to either the  Student Services Center (Change of Name form) or Human Resources (Employee Action Request) to update their legal name in university systems.  Changes to an individual’s legal name do not result in a change in the individual’s preferred name, unless a specific request is made at the time the legal name change paperwork is submitted to university officials. (back to top)

Do I have to use a preferred name?

No. Using a preferred name is entirely optional. If an individual does not enter a preferred name, the individual’s legal name will continue to be used for all university-related purposes. (back to top)

Are there any restrictions on how many times I may change my preferred name for university-related purposes?

An individual may enter a preferred name for university-related purposes at any time in the Student Center or Employee Center by logging into My Sac State. (See instructions below.) Students and employees should be aware that changing their preferred name multiple times may lead to identification issues and increased errors in relevant systems, reports, files, and reporting. (back to top)

Are there any restrictions on the use of a preferred name for university?

A preferred name should be the name an individual uses in social interactions and the name you want others to use when referring to you. An individual may not use a preferred name for the purpose of fraud, misrepresentation, perpetration of another person’s identity, or to evade legal obligations. Preferred names may not include profanity, vulgarity, discriminatory language, or sexually suggestive words. Sacramento State reserves the right to remove a preferred name if it contains inappropriate or offensive language. (back to top)

What happens if a student or employee enters an inappropriate or obscene?

University officials will regularly review a list of preferred names entered by students and employees.

Students who enter names containing inappropriate or obscene language or for those used for the purpose of academic misconduct or fraud will have their names removed at the discretion of university officials and reverted to the primary name.

Employees who enter names containing inappropriate or obscene language or those used for the purpose of fraud or perpetrating another person’s identity will be have their names removed at the discretion of university officials and reverted to the legal name. (back to top)

How can I minimize identification issues?

Individuals who use a preferred name for university-related purposes are encouraged to update their OneCard (or Sac State ID) and to memorize their student or employee identification number to avoid identification problems.

If you use a preferred name, it may be necessary to clarify that your preferred name is different than your legal (or "primary") name. Although Sacramento State is committed to using an individual’s preferred name, there are times where a legal name or state issued identification must be used. In those instances, individuals may be required to provide their student or employee identification number to assist in verifying their identification as a student or employee or otherwise assist in clarifying an individual’s identity. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, official interactions with police, security, and/or law enforcement, and verification of medical records. (back to top)

When should I enter a preferred name?

Individuals are encouraged to enter a preferred name as soon as possible, even at the time of application for admission or hiring.

Students are strongly encouraged to begin using a preferred name prior to the beginning of the semester in which the student wants the name change to take effect class schedule and class roster may not get updated during the semester. If a student enters a preferred name after classes have begun, students are encouraged to speak directly with their instructors to ensure these individuals are aware that the student now uses a preferred name and to minimize errors related to attendance, grading, etc. as the semester progresses. (back to top)

May I use a preferred name on my OneCard (or Sac State ID)?

Yes.  After an individual has entered a preferred name for university-related purposes, the individual may request to issue or reissue their OneCard with their preferred name. Please wait up to a few business days after entering or changing a preferred name in the Student or Employee Center before going to the Bursar’s office to request your OneCard with your preferred name. There is a $15 charge each time a student requests a new OneCard, including after a preferred name has been entered or changed. For more information about OneCard, please click here. (back to top)

If I enter or change a preferred name after the semester begins, will my preferred name automatically update on the class roster?

Yes, but not all faculty regularly update their class rosters during the semester. Students who enter a preferred name after classes begin, may wish to let their professors know of their preferred name.

May I use my preferred name at graduation?

Graduates’ names will be pulled from their Student Center (including preferred name, legal name, and diploma name). During commencement registration, students will have the option of selecting  which name they prefer to be read aloud, and which name they would like displayed on the screen during the ceremony.  

Students can update their preferred name in their Student Center.  Once you have completed the process of changing your preferred name, you must log back into the commencement ticketing/RSVP system to assure the name change has been captured. 

Students with additional questions related to the names used during graduation events should consult the commencement website. (back to top)

May I use my preferred name at Student Health & Counseling Services?

Yes, students may use a preferred first name at Student Health & Counseling Services (SHCS) by entering a preferred name either in the Student Center or the patient portal. In addition, SHSC’s patient portal also permits students to enter their gender identity and pronouns. However, SHCS does not use preferred middle or last names.

There are some instances where the health center may require a student to show a government issued identification with the student’s legal name, including when obtaining certain prescriptions, medical records, and some medical consents. (back to top)

In which Sacramento State systems may I use a preferred name?

An individual’s preferred name will be used in the following university systems:

System that display preferred names only:

E-mail Display Name

Student Center

Employee Center

Campus Directory

Library System

Schedule of Classes

Class Rosters

Campus Bookstore System

My Sac State

OneCard (or Sac State ID) 


SacCT/SacLink account settings

Marching Order (graduation)

CSU Learn

Smart Planner

EAB (Student Success Management System used by all Sacrament State advisors)

Office 365

Simplicity-CSM (Career Center, Student Clubs and Organizations)

OrgSync (system used by Career Center and Student Clubs and Organizations)

CBOARD (Meal plans and Meal cards)

Learner Web

Blue Rec (system used by ASI)

CSI SpectrumNG (Student Well membership)

Systems that will display both primary (legal) and preferred names:

PeopleSoft – CS (Student Database)

StarRez (Housing data base)

Simplicity Advocate (version used by Student Conduct)

Hobsons (Communication system used by the Office of Admissions and Outreach)

Point and Click (System used by the Health and Counselling Services)

T-2 (Parking database)

OnBase (the main document repository at Sacramento State)

Orientation Workshop Roster

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Will my preferred name be used on mail sent to my permanent address?

It is possible. The majority of print mail relates to official records that require legal (primary) name, such as transcripts, financial aid, payroll, etc. Accordingly, most print mail will be sent to legal (primary) name, but there may be instances where a mailing will use the preferred name.

If I enter or change my preferred name on the Student or Employee Center, will my Sacramento State’s user ID/email automatically get updated to reflect my new preferred name?

No. In order to change your Sacramento State email (user ID) please submit a SacLink Account Username Rename / Change Request. The form will present you with a list of usernames to choose from. If your preferred name is not reflected in the choices, you may need to wait a day for it to update.

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If I am a Sacramento State employee and I entered/changed my preferred name on my Employee Center, will my name automatically update on the Sacramento State’s phone directory?

No. In order for the Sacramento State’s phone to display your preferred name, please submit a Display Name Change Request by emailing IRT with the subject line “Display Name Change Request”.  Please indicate in that email that you want to make sure that the name displayed in the Sacramento State phone director reflects your preferred name. Please note that it may take up to 24 hours to go into effect. (back to top)