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Student Records FAQs

Western Carolina University recognizes that students may prefer to use a name that is different from their legal name.  Under WCU’s Preferred Name policy, any student may identify a preferred first name of their choosing. Preferred first names may not be fraudulent or misrepresent or be inappropriate or offensive. Once a student indicates their preferred first name in myWCU, it will be used in many but not all university contexts.

If you have questions or would like additional resources, please contact Ricardo Nazario-Colon, Chief Diversity Officer, at 828.227.3251 or rnazariocolon@wcu.edu.

What is a preferred name?

A Preferred Name is the name that a student wishes to be known by in the university community that is different than the student’s Legal Name.

What is a Legal Name?

A Legal Name is the name that appears on a student’s passport, driver’s license, birth certificate or US Social Security card.

Am I allowed to designate a preferred first name and a preferred last name?

No. WCU’s Preferred Name policy only allows a student to designate a preferred first name. Operationally, a student’s preferred first name and legal last name become their Preferred Name.

Am I required to designate a Preferred Name?

No, the use of a Preferred Name, pursuant to policy 125, is at the complete discretion of individual employees and students. If a preferred first name is not provided, it is assumed that the legal first name is preferred.

How do I request a Preferred Name?

To update your preferred first name, go to mywcu.edu and type ‘name’ in the search menu.

Where will my Preferred Name be used?

The preferred first name, singularly or in combination with the last name may appear, as possible, in the following locations:

  • Cat Card
  • Class rosters generated by the WCU’s student information system
  • The official WCU learning management system, Blackboard
  • Official WCU directories, unless the information is withheld pursuant to law or policy
  • Information used by the Advising Center that is generated by WCU's student information system
  • Graduation ceremonies
  • Printed diploma

Where will my Legal Name be used?

A student’s Legal Name will be used in business and legal processes that require the use of a Legal Name. A student’s Preferred Name may not appear in the following locations:

  • WCUID account created in WCU’s Active Directory as a student’s identity for most WCU  licensed systems. For students, these accounts end in @catamount.wcu.edu.
  • Financial Aid
  • Transcripts
  • Certifications
  • Athletics Rosters
  • Campus Police
  • Emergency Services
  • National Student Clearinghouse
  • Any behavior or discipline record
  • Any medical or medical history database system (Health Services and Counseling & Psychological Services systems do collect and use Preferred Names)

If I use a Preferred Name, who will have access to my Legal Name?

University administrators, University Police Department, and offices providing medical and mental health services.

How often can I change my Preferred Name?

Students can request two Preferred Name changes in an academic year. Additional changes are at the discretion of the Registrar or their designee.

Is there a downside to designating a Preferred name?

Students should be mindful about timing issues when changing their Preferred Name. Western does not restrict when students can submit new preferred first names.  Because Preferred Names appear on class rosters, students are advised to alert their instructors if they change their Preferred Name while courses are in-progress.

Can I get a new Cat Card after I submit my Preferred Name?

Yes, once you change your preferred name you can go to the Cat Card office and have a new, complimentary Cat Card printed.

Am I required to get a new Cat Card after I submit my Preferred Name?

No, updating your Cat Card to your Preferred Name is at your discretion.

Is the WCU Cat Card accepted as a form of official identification off campus?

No, the Cat Card is not accepted as a government issued form of identification.

Additional information

Please know that while WCU values and supports the use of Preferred Names, Preferred Names are not necessarily supported in off campus situations and services.

For more information:

NC General Statute, Chapter 101: Names of Persons

 To change the address on file:

  1. Log into myWCU
  2. Under Quick Links select "Personal Services", select "Personal Information", then choose "Update Address/Phone"
  3. Select the type of address you would like to update; i.e. Current Student, Permanent Mailing Address, Emergency Contact, etc. A permanent mailing address MUST be on file or an "Address Hold" will be placed on the student's account

Effective Fall 2019, students enrolled at a UNC constituent institution and who exceed 140 attempted hours prior to earning a baccalaureate degree are no longer subject to a tuition surcharge. North Carolina’s mandatory tuition surcharge which has been in effect since 1994 is repealed.

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