Student Records

Records retention guidelines effective July 21, 2004

Introduction

The following records retention guidelines provide recommendations for the disposition of Duke University student records. Those records represent many facets of each student’s career at Duke and are generated as part of the admissions process to document academic achievement and student advisement and to track student financial transactions.

The official copy of student records resides in the PeopleSoft© Student Administration system, which Student Information Services and Systems (SISS) maintains. Other copies of student records may exist in traditional formats like paper or microfilm/fiche. These guidelines apply to student records and data stored on any and all media.

Privacy

In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 20 USC §1232g), students may inspect their education records. In addition, FERPA limits disclosure to others of personally identifiable information from education records without the student’s prior written consent. Finally, FERPA provides students the opportunity to seek correction of their education records where appropriate. Get more information on FERPA and the release of students’ information.

Some student records contain private health information and are subject to the provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA, Public Law 104-191). Get more information on HIPAA and the protection of private health information.

Using the Retention Guidelines

The Retention Guidelines identify minimum retention periods for several categories of student records. Those categories include:

  • admissions records
  • certification documents
  • federal disclosure records
  • FERPA documents
  • financial aid records
  • publications
  • registration and academic progress records
  • reports
  • statistical data

Student records not identified in the guidelines should not be disposed of without first consulting the University Registrar and the University Records Manager. [MISSING LINKS]

Following the minimum retention period, the records in question should be destroyed using a method that preserves the confidentiality of the information. (This excludes records identified for permanent retention.) Duke University maintains contracts with several shredding facilities. Get more information at Procurement Services.

A title and brief description of the contents of each series identifies the information or data to be disposed of following the recommended retention period. DO NOT dispose of any student records or data if an investigation, legal action or proceeding, audit or program review is forthcoming or in progress.

The University Records Manager, the University Registrar and record guardians in Duke University’s departments and schools will review the retention guidelines for student records periodically and will issue revisions as necessary.

If you maintain student records that are not identified in these guidelines, visit Records Management or call (919) 684-6181 for assistance.

Off-site Storage

In most cases, offices responsible for maintaining student records do not have adequate space to store them beyond one or two years following the student’s departure. If records must be moved to an off-site storage location, consider the following needs:

  • access and retrieval — including frequency of retrieval, emergency access needs and potential costs associated with getting to the records

  • environmental conditions that provide stable and friendly conditions for the records

  • security systems that prevent unauthorized access to the records

  • filing systems that permit the rapid retrieval of records via a logical index, box list or similar finding aid

  • overall physical and intellectual control over the records for which you are the guardian

Official Transcripts

Students’ official transcripts are one of only a few student-related records identified for permanent retention. The University Registrar will work with SISS and the University Archives to implement measures to ensure the long-term accessibility, reliability and accuracy of those records.

Access to Student Records

Students’ official transcripts will be open 75 years after graduation or departure from Duke University.

Abbreviations and Definitions

Abbreviations

  • ADM: Undergraduate or Graduate Admissions Office

  • CFR: Code of Federal Regulations

  • FIN: Undergraduate or Graduate Financial Aid Office

  • INT: International Office

  • IRS: Internal Revenue Service

  • PMAC: Pre-Major Advising Center

  • PRA: Pratt School of Engineering

  • PRO: Applicable Professional School (Law, Business, Medical, etc.)

  • PS: PeopleSoft Student Administration System

  • REG: University Registrar or Applicable School Registrar

  • ScFIN: Applicable School Financial Aid Office

  • TRIN: Applicable Department in Arts & Sciences and Trinity College

Definitions

Administrative Value: the usefulness of a record in the conduct of the office’s business

Archives: The University Archives or the Medical Center Archives

Minimum Retention: the minimum amount of time a particular series of records should be retained prior to disposition

Permanent: an indefinite retention period; signifies that the records have sufficient value or importance to justify keeping them in perpetuity. Permanent 
retention also may be based on legal requirements or demonstrated and justifiable need. Long-term or permanent retention of electronic records requires resources for data migration, ensuring the integrity and trustworthiness of the data and addressing hardware/software obsolescence. An office should consider the long-term availability of its resources prior to expressing an interest in retaining information permanently. The University Archives or the Medical Center Archives is the official repository for information with historical or enduring value.



Records: all recorded information, regardless of its physical form or characteristics, created or received pursuant to the transaction of university business or in the fulfillment of its educational, administrative, business or legal obligations

Record Series (or Series):  a group/set of identical or related records, information or data that are normally used and filed or stored as a logical unit; synonymous with data set

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Duke University Records Retention Guidelines

Category Description: Student Records
Primary Heading: Admissions Data for Applicants Not Enrolling (Whether Accepted or Rejected)

Series Title Content Minimum Retention Notes

acceptance letters

See Series Title

1 year after application term

IRS Revenue Procedure 75-50, section 7

ADM, PRO, PS

application for admission

may include personal statements, letters of reference, transcripts from other colleges, etc.

1 year after application term

IRS, Revenue Procedure 75-50, section 7

ADM, PRO, PS

correspondence, relevant

correspondence relevant to student's acceptance or rejection

1 year after application term

IRS, Revenue Procedure 75-50, section 7

ADM, PRO, PS

entrance exam reports/test scores

could include ACT. SAT, LSAT, MCAT, GRE, etc.

1 year after application term

IRS, Revenue Procedure 75-50, section 7

ADM, PRO, PS

letters of recommendation

may also include other evaluative records

1 year after application term

IRS, Revenue Procedure 75-50, section 7

ADM, PRO, PS

placement tests records/scores

See Series Title

1 year after application term

IRS, Revenue Procedure 75-50, section 7

ADM, PRO, PS

prospective students

contact and demographic data on prospective students who do not enroll

1 year after date received

ADM, PRO, PS

transcripts (high school or other colleges)

See Series Title

1 year after application term

IRS, Revenue Procedure 75-50, section 7

ADM, PRO, P

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Primary Heading: Admissions Data for Applicants Who Enroll

Series Title Content Minimum Retention Notes

acceptance letters

 See Series Title

5 years after graduation/date of last attendance

PMAC, PRA, PRO, PS, REG, TRIN

application for admission or readmission

may include personal statements, letters of reference, transcripts from other colleges, etc

Reference Letters: Until student matriculates

Remaining Records: 5 years after graduation/date of last attendance

PMAC, PRA, PRO, PS, REG, TRIN

correspondence, relevant

correspondence relevant to student's admission or enrollment

5 years after graduation/date of last attendance

PMAC, PRA, PRO, PS, REG, TRIN

entrance exam reports/test scores

could include ACT. SAT, LSAT, MCAT, GRE, etc.

5 years after graduation/date of last attendance

PMAC, PRA, PRO, PS, REG, TRIN

letters of recommendation

may also include other evaluative records

until student matriculates

ADM, PRO

placement tests records/scores

See Series Title

5 years after graduation/date of last attendance

PMAC, PRA, PRO, PS, REG, TRIN

transcripts (high school or other colleges*)

See Series Title

5 years after graduation/date of last attendance

*Some documents from institutions in other countries may be originals and therefore difficult or impossible for the applicant to replace.

PMAC, PRA, PRO, PS, REG, TRIN

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Primary Heading: Documents for International Applicants Not Enrolling

Series Title Content Minimum Retention Notes

records of international students who do not enroll

May include:
Copy of Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 visa status (form I-20, which also includes a statement of educational costs);
Copy of Alien Registration Receipt Card (form I-551);
Copy of “arrival-departure” record (form I-94);
Copy of Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 visa status (form
DS-2019);
Statement of Financial Eligibility;
correspondence

1 year after application term

These records are maintained separate from the admissions process.

8 CFR 214.3 (g)

22 CFR 62.10 (h)

INT

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Primary Heading: Documents for International Applicants Who Enroll

Series Title Content Minimum Retention Notes

records of international students who enroll

May include:
Copy of Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 visa status (form I-20, which also includes a statement of educational costs);
Copy of Alien Registration Receipt Card (form I-551);
Copy of “arrival-departure” record (form I-94);
Copy of Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 visa status (form
DS-2019);
Statement of Financial Eligibility;
correspondence

3 years after graduation/date of last attendance (F-1) or 1 year after graduation/date of last attendance (J-1)

*There is no upper limit for international students on student visas.

These records are maintained separate from the admissions process.

8 CFR 214.3 (g)

22 CFR 62.10 (h)

INT

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Primary Heading: Federal Student Financial Aid and Institution-Based Financial Aid Documents

Series Title Content Minimum Retention Notes

annual statistical and summary reports

annual statistical reports created for U.S. Department of Education or Duke University

permanent

Transfer one copy to University Archives; retain one copy

FIN

awards, grants, fellowships, scholarships (including Federal Work Study and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants)

applications, transcripts, evaluative records, award letters, etc.

Unsuccessful Applicants: 3 years

Successful Applicants: 5 years after graduation/date of last attendance

Federal Work Study: 34 CFR 675.19

Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: 34 CFR 676.19

FIN, ScFIN

Fiscal Records: Title IV, HEA programs

records used to account for receipt and expenditure of Title IV, HEA program funds; includes, but is not limited to, Student Aid Report or Institutional Student Information Record, application data, eligibility documentation, etc.

5 years if not being audited

Fiscal records outlined in 34 CFR 668.24(b)

FIN

Program Records: Title IV, HEA programs

concerns eligibility to participate in, and administration of, HEA programs

5 years if not being audited

Program records outlined in 34 CFR 668.24(a)

FIN

Student Loan Records: Campus-based

may include correspondence, applications and eligibility records, award letters, deferment forms, payment schedules/histories, promissory notes, origination documents, tax records, etc.

3 years after loan repaid, canceled or assigned to Department of Education, if not being audited

Health Professions Loans: 5 years after loan repaid, canceled or assigned to Department of Education, if not being audited

Student Assistance General Provisions: 34 CFR 668.24

Perkins Loans: 34 CFR 674.19

Health Professions: 42 CFR 57.215

FIN, PS

Student Loan Records: External, such as FFEL, PLUS, Stafford and Direct loans

copies of loan applications, correspondence

3 years after graduation/date of last attendance

FFEL: 34 CFR 682

Stafford: 34 CFR 682

Wm. D. Ford Direct: 34 CFR 685

FIN, PS

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Primary Heading: General Records Related to Admissions and the Admissions Process

Series Title Content Minimum Retention Notes

annual reports

annual statistical reports concerning admissions activities, enrollment statistics, etc.

administrative value ends

transfer one copy to University Archives; retain one copy

ADM, PRO

recruitment materials

may include brochures, catalogues, etc. dealing with admissions, programs and scholarships

3 years after application term

Transfer one copy of each item to University Archives

IRS, Revenue Procedure 75-50, section 7

ADM, PR

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Primary Heading: Registration and Academic Progress Records

Series Title Content Minimum Retention Notes

academic action records

concerns actions such as academic probation, leave of absence, dismissal, etc.

5 years after graduation/date of last attendance

No recommended retention period is given for disciplinary action documents, except that they be retained while in force in a file separate from the student’s academic record (AACRAO).

PRA, PRO, PS, REG

correspondence (relevant)

See Series Title

5 years after graduation/date of last attendance

PRA, PRO, PS, REG

course change records

may include add/drop forms and related records

1 year after date submitted

PRA, PRO, PS, REG

credit/no credit approvals (audit, pass/fail, etc.)

signed request forms

1 year after date submitted

PRA, PRO, PS, REG

curriculum change requests and authorizations

See Series Title

5 years after graduation/date of last attendance

PRA, PRO, PS, REG

declaration of intention to receive degree

may also be known as Application for Graduation Certification

5 years after graduation/date of last attendance

PRA, PRO, PS, REG

grade/progress reports

See Series Title

1 year after date distributed

PRA, PRO, PS, REG

Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)

evaluation of medical students' academic/professional performance

Permanent (with transcript)

unique to Medical School

State Bar verification forms

forms from other states' bar boards used to verify presence or absence of disciplinary actions against students

Permanent (with transcript)

unique to Law School

transcript requests

to and from students or other colleges

1 year after date submitted

PRA, PRO, PS, REG

transcripts

official course and grade records, including grade changes

Permanent

PRA, PRO, PS, REG

transfer credit requests/reports

See Series Title

5 years after graduation/date of last attendance

PRA, PRO, PS, REG

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Primary Heading: Student Advising Records

Series Title Content Minimum Retention Notes

advising records (advising file)

may include progress reports, statements of academic interests, essays, advisor's notes, student's photograph, etc.

1 year after graduation/date of last attendance

PMAC, PRA, PRO, PS, TRIN

advising records (Dean's file)

may include the admissions folder, course withdrawal approvals, approvals for leave of absence, student's photograph, etc.

See “Admissions Data for Applicants Who Enroll” or “Registration and Academic Progress Records” for retention of records received or created separate from advising activities

Remaining records: 1 year after graduation/date of last attendance

PMAC, PRA, PRO, PS, REG, TRIN

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