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Practical Advice, continued: Name Changes

Continuing my mini-series on practical matters (from my previous post), what follows is some insight into changing one’s name with the university. Many students may never need to deal with this, but I hope this information will be helpful to those who need it.

If you previously attended Northwestern and are now reentering as a graduate student, you probably have had some life changes since your last time here. If your name changed during the time you were away (perhaps due to marriage), you will want to change your name with university administration. Changing your name with the university will ensure your current moniker is reflected on all official documentation and online systems, including:

  • Class registration
  • Grades and transcripts
  • Online course management
  • Online assignment portals
  • Your health insurance ID card (if you have the NU student health insurance)
  • Tuition billing and financial aid

To change your name with the university, you will need to present the following information to the registrar in Evanston:

  • Current social security card showing your new name
  • Photo ID (your NU Wildcard student ID is fine, even if it reflects your previous name)
  • Marriage license (if the name change is due to marriage)

These documents are best presented to the registrar in person. If this is not possible (perhaps you don’t live in Evanston, and MSC students are generally only on campus on Saturdays), notarized copies of them may also be mailed. Contact the registrar in advance for the name of the individual currently handling this task. However, note that there are procedures for notaries to follow regarding different types of documents; I had to approach several before I found one that would notarize a copy of my social security card.

In my experience, emailing the registrar’s office with questions about this matter was unproductive. My tweet to their office, however, yielded a response right away. Also, I did not receive any confirmation when my name change was complete; I simply began seeing the change reflected on various documents and online systems. Later on, I stopped by the Wildcard office and they printed a ID new card for no cost.

I don’t think I would advise attempting a name change before having a current NU Wildcard in hand, and MSC students receive theirs at orientation in September. In fact, I was initially advised to visit the registrar on the day of orientation for this purpose. However, the chock-full itinerary that day would have prohibited such a diversion, even if I had remembered all of my documents. The matriculation process, in general, seems to provide a necessary function for university administration. Trying to access any university student services (including the career center) before this process was complete often presented problems for the staff as well as for me.