Records Retention Guidelines (Effective May 4, 2005)


The following records retention guidelines provide recommendations for the disposition of records and information concerning Duke University student affairs. Student affairs encompasses many aspects of undergraduate and graduate student life and activities at the university. The records identified in these guidelines document those functional areas and other co-curricular activities in which students are involved. These guidelines apply to student affairs records and data stored on any and all media.

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 records related to student affairs 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.

Fiscal Records

Much of the information used in the management and oversight of student affairs is financial in nature. Procedures for disposing of accounting records are in General Accounting Procedure 200.240, Retention Periods for Accounting Records.

Using the Retention Guidelines

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

  • Career Counseling Services: Records of symposia and events for students seeking jobs, as well as career counseling activities

  • Counseling and Psychological Services: Records that document counseling/therapy provided to students

  • Dean of Students Office: Records that document activities of Greek organizations, student disciplinary activities and student support and advocacy

  • Residence Life and Housing Services: Records of housing services and residence life programs for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty-in-residence

  • School of Medicine: Records of advising and evaluative activities

  • Student Activities and Facilities: Records that document the integration of academic and co-curricular sides of the university

  • Student Groups, Clubs and Organizations: Records that document activities, accomplishments and membership of student groups and organizations

  • Student Health Services: Medical and laboratory records for Duke students who visit the Student Health Center

  • Administrative and Programmatic Records: Records of numerous centers or programs that address students’ needs and issues, which are covered by retention guidelines for administrative and management records

Following the minimum retention period, sensitive records 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. Nonsensitive records can be recycled.

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 records or data if an investigation, legal action or proceeding, audit,or program review is forthcoming or in progress.

If you maintain records that are not identified in these guidelines and need assistance, contact the University Archives.

Off-site Storage

In many cases, offices do not have adequate space to store records beyond one or two years following their administrative usefulness. 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

Abbreviations and Definitions


  • CAP: College of American Pathologists; recommends minimum requirements for the retention of laboratory records and materials

  • CLIA: Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (42 CFR 493)

  • FERPA: Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (20 USC §1232g)

  • NCGS: North Carolina General Statutes


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

Duke University Records Retention Guidelines

Category Description: Student Affairs

This category of records supports the many programs and departments that serve students’ academic, social, personal and community needs. The records may document campus life, housing, student health, student groups or other co-curricular activities.

Primary Heading: Career Center and Career Counseling Services 

These are records used to support the center and its events and programs for students, alumni and employers.

Series Title


Minimum Retention


Career Advising Team (CATS) records applications, progress reports, and aggregate data and summary reports concerning this voluntary student counseling program administrative value ends; transfer summary reports to Archives destroy remaining records when administrative value ends
Career Counseling Records database of career counseling provided to students and alumni 5 years after graduation/date of last attendance or 5 years after date of last contact, whichever occurs later  
Career Fairs records concerning Career Week, Ph.D. symposia, etc. May include web-based panelist biographies, panel descriptions and registrations update as necessary Also see retention guidelines for Administrative and Management Records, Program Administration and Management
Credentials Files letters of recommendation, registration forms, waivers, etc. 10 years after graduation/date of last attendance maintained for graduate students and alumni of graduate school

Primary Heading: Counseling and Psychological Services 

These records document the provision of evaluation or counseling/therapy.

Series Title


Minimum Retention


Client Files records of counseling activities with students who visit Counseling and Psychological Services 30 years after date of last service if not involved in official action retention period follows DUHS guidelines (per Office of University Counsel)

Primary Heading: Dean of Students Office

These records document activities of Greek organizations, student disciplinary activities and student support and advocacy.

Series Title


Minimum Retention


Annual Reviews (Greek Organizations) programmatic summaries, reports and correspondence for Greek organizations and living groups administrative value ends; transfer to Archives
Chapter Files records of activities with fraternities and sororities; includes correspondence, minutes, by-laws, rosters, adjudicated cases concerning Greek groups, photographs, etc. 5 years; transfer to Archives
Crime Statistics crime statistics compiled and forwarded to University Police 3 years Clery Act (20 USC 1092(f))
Disciplinary Hearings reports or complaints, notifications, hearing summaries, tape recordings of hearings and similar records concerning disciplinary hearings for students 8 years following date of involved students' matriculation

Demographic data, affiliations, violations and sanctions and related data are also maintained electronically


Disciplinary Statistics annual statistical summaries of disciplinary activities 5 years; transfer to Archives
Governance Files records concerning activities with governance groups (Interfraternity Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Duke Pan-Hellenic Association and Inter-Greek Council) Administrative value ends; transfer to Archives
Mediation Files consultation documents, resolutions, etc. 4 years
Student Data Cards cards for each student containing information about disciplinary actions 4 years

Primary Heading: Residence Life and Housing Services 

These records concern the primary functions of the office as it manages student housing and residence activities.

Series Title


Minimum Retention


Applications and License Agreements may also include correspondence, records of student housing assignments, etc. 5 years after graduation/date of last attendance  
Space Utilization (dormitories and apartments) may include plans, copies of work requests, copies of construction/renovation drawings Drawings: life of structure

Plans and other records: administrative value ends

Some of these records may be duplicated in the Facilities Management Department or the Office of the University Architect
Staffing Records (Faculty-in-Residence program) agreements, status reports and other records concerning Faculty-in-Residence program 3 years after faculty member's commitment expires  
Student Residential Staff Records (R.A.s, G.A.s) agreements with resident assistants and graduate assistants; may also include status reports 5 years after graduation/date of last attendance  
Student Assessment Data assessment data from surveys of student satisfaction with residence life or housing Administrative value ends; transfer summary reports to Archives

Destroy statistical data following analysis and compilation in summary report, and when administrative value ends


Primary Heading: School of Medicine 

These records support advising and counseling of medical students, as well as evaluative activities and application to residency programs.

Series Title


Minimum Retention


Advisors' Records notes, correspondence, etc. maintained by advisory deans 1 year after graduation/date of last attendance FERPA
Evaluative Materials evaluative information used to write medical student performance evaluations (MSPE) until MSPE is filed with academic record FERPA
Residency Application Records letters of recommendation used in the residency application process 5 years after graduation/date of last attendance FERPA

Primary Heading: Student Activities and Facilities 

These records support leadership development, personal development and experiential learning for students and student organizations.

Series Title


Minimum Retention


Clubs and Organizations (database)

database of student clubs and organizations for which the office provides oversight and guidance

update as necessary; transfer summary report to Archives annually

data fields include name of group, status, charter date, current leaders and current advisor

Event Planning Registration (database)

database of social events held by groups, clubs and organizations

update as necessary; transfer summary report to Archives annually

data fields include event description, logistical information about event, number of attendees, etc.

Financial Records (student groups, clubs and organizations)

  Follow General Accounting Procedure 200.240 for disposition of fiscal records  
Registrations and Renewals annual registration and renewal records submitted by student clubs and organizations superseded or obsolete  
Student Groups (advising) records of advising activities with student groups, clubs and organizations 3 years; transfer to Archives  

Primary Heading: Student Groups, Clubs, and Organizations 

These records are created or maintained by student groups, clubs and organizations to document their activities, accomplishments and membership.

These guidelines are not a requirement to create a record that is not already created by the group. Instead, they list the types of records a group might maintain. Excluding records that can be destroyed, the Archives recommends preserving any documentation of a group's activities, such as:

Series Title Content Minimum Retention Notes

activity reports

summary or activity reports detailing goals achieved, general activities, special events, etc.

1 year; transfer to Archives


budget records

proposed expenditures and receipts, including reports of spending activity, expenditures and receipts for the group or organization

3 years; destroy

Office of Student Activities & Facilities maintains records of expenditures and receipts for the group or organization; also see "Funding requests"

Bylaws or Constitution

documents that establish the group or organization superseded; transfer to Archives  
Committee and Task Force Records may include minutes, reports, member lists, etc. 1 year; transfer to Archives Transfer only those records created by committees of the student group or organization
Correspondence correspondence to and from administrators, campus leaders, group affiliates, other groups, etc. 1 year; transfer to Archives  
Funding Requests requests for funds made or received by the group or organization 1 year after request is funded or denied; destroy

Office of Student Activities & Facilities maintains records of expenditures and receipts for the group or organization; also see "Budget records"

Goals and Objectives (plans) action or strategic plans for meeting goals or objectives 1 year; transfer to Archives  
Member Lists lists of members, officers, committee members, etc. 1 year; transfer to Archives  
Minutes of Meetings includes agendas and any attachments 1 year; transfer to Archives  
Photographs photographs of activities, events or members 1 year; transfer to Archives When possible, events, activities or people in photos should be identified. Remove all photos from frames. Do not send large composites (head shots), but smaller versions are acceptable if members are identified. Contact the Archives prior to transferring digital photos.
Publications handbooks, manuals, brochures, scrapbooks, etc. generated by the group or organization 1 year; transfer to Archives See "Reference materials" for publications received from other sources
Reference Materials assorted publications, "fyi" copies, widely distributed brochures, copies of reports from other bodies, etc. reference value ends; destroy If in doubt about what constitutes reference materials, contact the Archives
Registrations and Renewals registrations or renewals for recognition/affiliation as a student group or organization superseded or obsolete; destroy May be submitted annually to Office of Student Activities & Facilities or Graduate & Professional Student Council
Resolutions resolutions or other legislation enacted by the group 1 year; transfer to Archives  
Website Content The information listed above may reside on a group-supported website. It may be contained in html or similar files and consist of text, images or other file formats superseded or obsolete Contact University Archives

Primary Heading: Student Health Services 

These are records created from the provision of clinical care, health promotion and health education to Duke University students.

Series Title Content Minimum Retention Notes
controlled drug discrepancy forms   5 years  
drug destruction and disposal records   3 years  
HIPAA-required records

May include:

  • Records of uses and disclosures of protected health information (PHI)
  • Patient authorizations to disclose PHI
  • Requests for amendment of PHI
  • Patient requests for restriction on use/disclosure of PHI, including correspondence regarding the request
  • Complaints by patient regarding policies and procedures or compliance with HIPAA
  • Policies and procedures concerning privacy regulations and security standards, etc.
  • Documentation of all business associate agreements required under HIPAA
  • Documentation of training materials and documentation that training required under HIPAA has been provided
  • Documentation of any sanctions resulting from a violation of HIPAA
  • Documentation of the privacy official responsible for policies and procedures, and the titles/offices of those responsible for processing requests for access amendments and disclosures (as well as for receiving complaints)
6 years from date of creation HIPAA and 45 CFR 164.530(j); also see
inventory, perpetual and periodic may include annual narcotic inventory 3 years after audit  
laboratory accession logs   2 years CLIA, CAP
laboratory maintenance includes records documenting instrument maintenance 2 years CLIA, CAP
laboratory quality control records   2 years CLIA, CAP
medical records (Duke students) medical records of Duke students who visit Student Health Services; includes clinic notes, immunization records (health history forms), lab reports, radiological records (x-rays), other physicians' notes, referrals, etc. 30 years after date of last service if not involved in official action; scanned paper records may be destroyed following quality control procedures and backup of data NCGS 130A-155.1, HIPAA, FERPA

Retention period follows DUHS guidelines (per Office of University Counsel)

medication storage inspection reports   3 years  
narcotic records may include usage, dispensing and inventory records 3 years after audit  
patient test records (laboratory)   2 years CLIA, CAP
perpetual narcotic inventory records   3 years after audit  
pharmacy board registrations   permanent  
pharmacy daily audit logs   3 years  
pharmacy sales analysis reports   administrative value ends  
prepackaging logs   5 years  
prescription files for Schedule II narcotics   5 years  
prescription orders   3 years after audit  
samples laboratory samples and specimens Follow CAP guidelines  
Schedule II invoices and receiving records   5 years