General Retention and Disposition Schedule

The following are the basic divisions of the schedule based on function. Each functional area will open to those record series that have been approved for University use.

Syracuse University Records Retention Schedule

Note:  The University Retention Schedule is currently being revised. Please contact University Records Management if you have any questions regarding the retention of University Records.

Academic Programs, courses, curriculum, syllabi
Administrative Records common to most offices such as correspondence and reports
Financial Budgets, payroll, vouchers, and accounting
Legal Rights or obligations including contracts, real property, and compliance
Personnel Personnel actions and performance
Students Admissions, examinations, grades and transcripts

Syracuse University's Records Management Program is responsible for identifying and providing retention periods for all recurring University records to ensure they are retained for their legal minimum retention period. The index below and on linked pages lists record series found in departments throughout the University.

Before cleaning out office files, please refer to the document "Guidelines for Purging Office Files" which provides basic information on the types of records that do not normally have long-term value and should not be stored in the University Records Center (URC).

The legal retention periods for the record series in this index have been approved by the Office of the General Counsel. Schools, colleges and departments should use these retentions for the storage and disposition of records. If you identify a record series that is not listed in this schedule, please contact Records Management.

Some specific guidelines and rules apply. University staff should familiarize themselves with these before using the retention schedule. The policy for University Records is available on the Policies web site.

  • Electronic records: The same safeguards and controls over information stored electronically apply as for information created and maintained in paper form. The retention periods in this schedule cover the information in a record regardless of medium or physical format.
  • New York Civil Practices Law and Rules § 213: Many University records have been assigned a retention period of 7 years. This is based on the New York Civil Practices Law and Rules § 213 which provides that an action upon a contractual obligation or liability, expressed or implied, must be commenced within 6 years. University attorneys have requested that that 6-year retention be increased to 7 years as a matter of caution regarding contractual obligations. While this retention period is longer than some Federal requirements, New York State laws must be followed.
  • Grant-funded records: In some cases records produced under Federal, State or other granting agencies may have a specific retention period expressed in the contract. Those grant requirements must be adhered to even if they are longer than the normal University retention period.
  • Legal Holds: A legal hold is a process that an organization uses to preserve all forms of relevant information when litigation is reasonably anticipated. If any department, including Records Management, is notified of a hold being placed on any records, existing retention periods are not followed until that hold is lifted by University Counsel.
  • Shredding vs. Recycling: At the close of a retention period paper documents should be recycled or shredded, and data in electronic format should be purged. Although Records Management strongly supports the University's recycling program, any paper records containing personally-identifiable information or those that contain confidential or restricted data should be shredded. This includes social security numbers, credit card numbers, student and employee ID numbers, home addresses and telephone numbers, and similar data. For more information on the destruction of data visit the "Destroying Records" page.
  • Vital Records: Records, regardless of medium or physical format, that are essential to the University to continue with its business-crucial functions both during and after a disaster. They are not necessarily records with a 'permanent' retention. Examples of vital records include payroll records, accounts receivable, and contracts.
  • Archival Records: Some records created or received by the University are designated as archival - worthy of permanent retention because of their enduring historical value. Archival records contain evidence of and document the history, organization, policies, and activities of the University. They are normally identified in this schedule with a retention of "Permanent." For more information please visit the University Archives web site.