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Office of General Counsel Policies & Guidelines

Disposal of Records : G-070

Policy/Guideline Area

General Guidelines

Applicable Divisions

TCATs, Community Colleges, Universities, System Office


These guidelines set forth the procedures for disposal of institutional records for all institutions governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.


  • Record - All books, papers, electronic mail messages, maps, photographs, films, microfilm, imaged copy, electronic data processing output, sound recordings or other materials regardless of physical form or characteristics made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any governmental agency.
  • Non-record - Those documents which do not document the activities of an agency: i.e. extra copies of documents kept for convenience or reference; stock supplies of publications; extra copies of circulated materials where follow-up copies are kept for the record; reading files; follow-up correspondence copies; identical or carbon copies kept in the same file; draft copies or work copies of documents when the final version is complete; letters of transmittal which add nothing to the transmitted information; inter-office memoranda; shorthand notes, steno type tapes or sound recordings after they have been transcribed; and internal housekeeping materials such as intra-office memos, routing slips, telephone call slips, and computer edit error listings after the corrections are made; library or museum material which is for reference or exhibition; private materials neither made nor received by an institution staff member in connection with the transaction of official business. As non-records, the above-mentioned items are excluded from the record retention and disposal requirements.
  • Permanent Records - Those records or materials which have permanent administrative, physical, historical or legal value.
  • Working Papers - Those records or materials created to serve as interim documents or inputs to final reporting documents, including electronic data processed records, computer output microfilm and records which become obsolete immediately after agency use or publication and are not classified as being a permanent record, or record of archival value.


  1. Introduction
    1. Disposal of institutional records must be approved by the State Public Records Commission.
      1. No records may be destroyed unless and until provided below.
      2. Unless specified otherwise, or otherwise required by law, records may be imaged, microfilmed, or electronically reproduced and the paper copy destroyed upon verification of an archival quality reproduction.
      3. The microfilm, image, or electronic record will then be retained for the balance of the indicated retention period.
    2. The following record series have been approved for disposal by state-approved methods: shredding or burning.
      1. No record shall be destroyed, however, so long as it pertains to any pending legal case, claim or action or to any federal or state audit until such actions have been concluded.
      2. Records which reflect "Permanent" retention may be destroyed after verification of an archival quality electronic reproduction.
      3. Actions by the State Commission shall be communicated to all campus records officers through the Board staff.
    3. Institutional Records Officers have the authority and responsibility to dispose of records in accordance with approved records disposition authorizations.
      1. Prior to the destruction of any records, the Records Officer must determine if the action should be delayed due to audit or litigation requirements.
      2. Specific records pertaining to current or pending litigation or investigation must also be retained until all questions are resolved.
      3. These specific records can be retained in a suspense file, while all other records not under pending investigation should be disposed of in accordance with established RDAs.
    4. The public Records Commission has authorized the implementation and utilization of the Certificate of Destruction form (see Exhibit 1) in order to better track the volume of records destroyed and to insure that records have met the criteria necessary for destruction.
      1. Institutions need to complete a Certificate of Destruction form when destroying public or confidential records that are not destroyed during the annual Operation Roundfile campaign – an initiative through Executive Order 38 to purge out-of-date documents on an annual basis.
  2. Records Retention Schedules
    1. Notwithstanding the retention period stated herein, should such periods conflict with federal law, the period of longer retention shall apply.
      1. Business Records
        1. NOTE: Business records must be retained the indicated number of years listed below. In addition, prior to disposal or destruction, these business records must have been subjected to the completion of an annual or bi-annual audit conducted by the State Audit Division of the Comptroller's Office as required in T.C.A. § 4-3-304. Internal audit reports and work papers must be retained either 5 years or through 2 audits. "Completion" includes the issuance of the final audit report and the resolution of any audit exceptions or questions arising from the audit.
          Capital Outlay Requisitions 3 years
          Capital Outlay Purchase Orders
          Closed capital outlay purchase order files
          3 years
          Requisition for Local Purchase 3 years
          Requisition for Bids 3 years
          Budget Records and Ledgers (Working Papers)
          Budget working papers which are prepared at each institution during the budget process
          3 years
          Travel Claims
          Claims for travel expenses filed for reimbursement
          3 years
          Purchase Orders 3 years
          Petty Cash Receipts 3 years
          Vocational Rehabilitation Authorizations
          Authorizations and invoices from the State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation for services to clients
          3 years and audit
          Equipment Inventory Records 3 years
          Grant Files 3 years after termination
          Disbursement Voucher Files
          Disbursement vouchers and supporting documents, such as vendor invoices, purchase orders and related correspondence, travel requests and authorizations
          3 years
          Motor Vehicle Operations Files
          Applications for title, registration, invoices, etc., for institution-owned vehicles
          3 years
          Internal Audit Reports 5 years or two audits
          Internal Audit Work Papers 5 years or two audits
          Accounts Receivable
          Invoices billing individuals and organizations for accounts receivable
          5 years
          Bank Deposit Slips 5 years
          University Operating Funds Receipt Books and Other Pre-Numbered Receipts 5 years
          Payroll Records
          Payroll journals, transmittal sheets, etc.
          4 years
          Check Vouchers 5 years
          Fee Assessment Forms 5 years
          Vendor Files 5 years
          Bank Account Reconciliation
          Statements showing checks, other debits, deposits and credits to bank accounts
          5 years
          Canceled Checks 5 years
          Student Ledger Cards/ Student Registration System Receipts 5 years after account is paid in full; permanently if not paid in full
          Tuition and Fee Charges, Assessed and Paid 5 years after date of charge
          Investment Records
          Includes records concerning LGIP accounts, certificates of deposit, records of interest and dividends earned
          5 years after maturity/liquidation of investment
          Student Financial Aid Records
          1. Records pertaining to the application for and receipt and expenditure of federal funds, including all accounting records and original and supporting documents necessary to document how the funds are spent
          2. Records pertaining to specific award of financial aid
          3. Repayment Records
          A minimum of 3 years, as required by federal law.   See 34 C.F.R. 668.24.
          Contracts 6 years after either final payment, or termination of contract term
          Housing Contracts 6 years after final payment
          Leases 6 years after termination
          Gift and Contribution Records
          Master listing of gifts and contributions
          Record of any stipulations placed on gift or contribution
          All other records
          Life of gift or contribution 3 years
          General Ledger 20 years
          Monthly Budget and Expenditure Report (if different than General Ledger) If kept in lieu of a general ledger, 20 years
          Financial Reports Permanently
      2. Personnel Records
        Attendance and Leave Records, Employee Leave Requests, Attendance and Leave Reports Maintain by fiscal year (current leave balances should be constantly maintained); hold for 3 years after current year and completed audit when required
        Personnel Files
        Official personnel folders for each employee of the Tennessee Board of Regents or its institutions.
        Maintain in active files for current employees. May image, microfilm, or electronically reproduce active files; however, upon separation from state government, the documents must be imaged, microfilmed, or electronically reproduced. Destroy paper records after verification of reproduction. Retain reproduced copy for 75 years, then destroy.
        Daily Work Report Files
        This record serves as a work sheet for the attendance and leave record. It serves as a record of daily attendance, hours worked and leave taken. Included are forms giving name of employee, time signed in and out, hours worked, signature of employee, etc.
        Maintain in file on annual basis; destroy after maintaining 3 years
        Pledge Cards for Charity Drives
        Records consist of payroll deduction authorizations for the State Employee Charity Fund and similar campaigns
        Destroy after 1 year and audit
        Employee Insurance Files
        Records consist of signed copies of group welfare program and similar forms indicating type coverage selected, signed application for health insurance and similar or related forms
        Retain in active file until superseded by a new form, at which time original authorization will be placed in agency personnel folder or attached to the new authorization. Upon termination of employment, place in agency employee personnel folder, etc.
        U.S. Savings Bond Payroll Savings Authorization
        Form used to authorize payroll deduction for savings bonds, showing beneficiary and owner's name, address, and social security number.
        Retain in active file until superseded by a new form, at which time original authorization will be either replaced in agency personnel folder or attached to the new authorization. Upon termination of employment, place in agency employee personnel folder.
        Applications for Employment
        Applications and resumes submitted in response to an advertised position.
        2 years after date of last action on an application
        Unsolicited Applications
        Employment applications and resumes gratuitously submitted.
        May be disposed of immediately
        Affirmative Action Records
        Composite information relating to applicant flow logs, applicant statistics, wage data, and information concerning adverse impact, affirmative action compliance program, etc.
        5 years
        I-9 Employment Eligibility verification forms 3 years after date of hire or one year after date of termination, whichever is later
      3. ​Student Records
        1. ​The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (FERPA) specifically requires institutions to maintain records of requests and disclosures of personally identifiable information except for defined "directory information" and requests from students to review their own records.
          1. ​​The records of disclosures and requests for disclosures are considered part of the students' educational records; therefore, these records must be retained as long as the education records to which they refer are retained by the institution.
        2. ​Additionally, FERPA requires that no record for which there is a pending request to review be destroyed.
        3. Admission data, documents for applicants who do not enter whether accepted or rejected:
          Acceptance Letters 1 year after application term
          Advanced Placement Records 1 year after application term
          Applications for Admission 1 year after application term
          Correspondence 1 year after application term
          Entrance Exam Reports
          (ACT, CEEB)
          1 year after application term
          Letters of Recommendation 1 year after application term
          High school, other colleges or universities
          1 year after application term
          Medical Records 1 year after application term
          Readmission Forms 1 year after application term
        4. The remainder of the retention guidelines for student records pertains to applicants who enter the institution.
          Grade Reports (Registrar's copies) 1 year after date distributed
          Registration Forms 1 year after date submitted
          Social Security Certificates 1 year after certified
          Teacher Certifications 1 year after certified
          Transcript Requests (student) 1 year after date requested
          Audit Authorizations 1 year after date submitted
          Pass/Fail Requests 1 year after date submitted
          Changes of Course (add/drop) 1 year after date submitted
          Credit/No Credit Approvals 1 year after date submitted
          Enrollment Verifications, Logs or Lists 1 year after date submitted
          AAPP Scan Sheets and Essay Booklets (Hard Copy) 5 years after date of test
          Applications for Graduation 1 year after graduation or 1 year after date of last attendance
          Examination Papers and Answer Sheets Must be retained one year after date of last attendance, or one year after date of graduation of student whose grade has been appealed.
          Academic Advisor Files 1 year after graduation, or 3 years after end of advisor status, whichever occurs first
          Class Schedules (Students) 1 year after graduation or 1 year after date of last attendance
          Personal Data Information Forms 1 year after graduation or 1 year after date of last attendance
          Judicial Board Cases/Student Disciplinary Files
          For matters resulting in expulsion or suspension
          For matters resulting in a finding of no violation(s)

          At conclusion of disciplinary process
          All other matters 1 year after graduation or 4 years after date of action
          Veterans Administration Certifications/Individual Folders File
          includes recruitment material (for those who do not enter whether accepted or rejected); previous education (transcripts from other colleges); evidence of formal admission (acceptance letters); grade reports and/or statements of progress (academic records); change of course forms; transfer credit evaluations; degree audit reports; tuition and fees charged and collected.
          3 years after graduation or date of last term attended
          Withdrawal Authorizations 3 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Academic Action Authorizations (Dismissal, etc.) 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Acceptance Letters 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Name Change Authorizations 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Correspondence, Relevant 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Residence Classification Forms 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Curriculum Change Authorizations 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Degree Audit Records, Reports 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Entrance Examinations Reports (ACT, CEEB) 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Transcripts - High schools, other colleges 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Foreign Student Forms (I-20) 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Graduation Authorizations 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Advance Placement Records
          Information regarding students' high school advance placement scores
          5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Applications for Admission or Readmission (Re-entry) 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Credit by Examination Forms 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Placement Records
          Records of job placement subsequent to attendance, graduation, receipt of certificate, etc.
          5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Letters of Recommendation Upon admission of the student
          Student Waivers for Right of Access to Review Letters of Recommendation for Admission Retain until the admissions record and recommendation letters are disposed.
          Transfer Credit Evaluations 5 years after graduation or date of last attendance
          Academic Records
          Includes Narrative Evaluations, Competency Assessments, etc.
          Change of Grade Forms (Update Forms) Permanently
          Class Lists (Original Grade Sheets or Cards) Permanently
          Graduation Lists Permanently
          Permanent Student Cards Permanently
          Statistical Data – Enrollment, Grades, Racial/Ethnic, Degree, Schedule of Classes (Institutional) Permanently
          Commencement Program Retain 1 copy permanently
      4. ​Miscellaneous
        Correspondence Files 1 year
        Deeds Permanently
        Endowment and Living Trust Agreements Permanently
        Minutes of Board and Committees
        Documents relating to the holding of meetings and recording of proceedings of meetings of the Board of Regents and its official commissions, councils, sub-councils, and committees.
        Included are accounts (either verbatim or in summary) of proceedings; actions taken in such meetings, agenda; copies of reports; exhibits; announcements; retained in Office of General Counsel
        Printed Materials and Publications
        Items which have permanent administrative, physical, historical or legal value, such as: Class schedules (institutional), institution catalogs, brochures, etc.
        Retain 2 copies permanently in institution/center library archive
        Medical X-Rays 4 years, provided the written and signed findings of a radiologist who has read such X-ray film shall be retained for 10 years after treatment of patient
        Medical Case Records Retain entire record for 10 years after student leaves institution. Retain 10 years after treatment of member of institution/center staff
        Litigation Files
        Institutional Files - Supporting records utilized in litigation
        System Office Files - Pleadings and other supporting documents
         3 years after conclusion of litigation/final appeal
        5 years after conclusion of litigation/final appeal
        Interlibrary Loan Forms Maintain by calendar year and hold for 1 additional year
        Motor Vehicle Registration
        Registration forms for campus parking permits

        Retain during current academic year; or, destroy once invalid
        Reference Paper Files
        Records consist of documents used to facilitate, control, or supervise the performance of a specific function, process or action - not the official record copies necessary to document function, process or action. Do not use this number for working papers, investigations and similar working papers which are required by operating procedures, state or federal regulations and/or to be retained for a stipulated period of time.
        1. Notes, drafts, feeder reports, news clippings, similar working papers and other materials accumulated for preparation of a communications, study, a survey, an inspection or other action. This definition does not include official and quasiofficial recommendations, coordinating actions and other documents which contribute or result from preparation of the communication or other record.
        2. Cards, listings, indexes, and similar documents used for facilitating and
        controlling work. Do not destroy cards, listings, and indexes and similar documents which provide access to the original documents.
        3. Technical documents, plans, and similar reproduced materials which do not fall in the description of reference or technical publications. This does not apply to the record copy generally maintained by the initiating office.
        4. Documents received for general information purposes that require no action and are not required for documentation of specific functions.
        5. Extra copies maintained by action office which reflect actions taken. Such files should not be established unless absolutely necessary.
        6. Copies of documents maintained by supervisory offices, such as commissioners, chiefs of divisions, sections, etc. These records duplicate the records filed elsewhere within the organization.


        1. Terminate files upon completion of communication, study, survey, inspection or other action

        2. Destroy when no longer needed to facilitate or control work 3. Destroy when superseded, obsolete or no longer needed for reference 4. Destroy after 1 year or when no longer needed for reference. 5. 1 year 6. 1 year
        Copyrights and Patents
        Forms, documents and materials relating to applications for and granting of copyrights and patents
        JTPA Records
        All records concerning the Job Partnership Training Program including participant records
        Retain 3 years following the date on which the annual expenditure report containing the final expenditures charged to such program year's allotment is submitted to the Department of Labor
        Accreditation Records Until superseded
      5. Office General Administrative Files
        Suspense files, papers arranged in chronological order as a reminder that action is required on a given date.
        A note or reminder to submit a report or take some other action
        The file copy or extra copy of an outgoing communication
        An incoming communication filed by date on which action is expected.
        Destroy when action is taken Remove from suspense file when reply is received. If extra copy, destroy; if record copy, file in proper file. Remove from file on date action is to be taken.
        Office General Management Files. Included are:
        Correspondence concerning hours of work and additional duties
        Correspondence concerning participation in Public Relations/information activities, such as open house programs and special events. (This does not normally apply to news releases, project files on conferences, seminars, open house programs, etc., accumulated by Agency Information directors or agency offices performing similar functions.)
        Correspondence pertaining to security within the office.
        Correspondence relating to office participation in charity drives and blood donations.
        Correspondence relating to parking, traffic, and related protective services.
        Documents relating to safety within the office.
        Other documents similar to the above categories that do not pertain to the official functional files of the office.
        Destroy after 1 year
        Destroy after 1 year

        Destroy after 1 year
        Destroy after 1 year
        Destroy after 1 year
        Destroy after 1 year
        Destroy after 1 year
        Housekeeping Instruction Files.
        Documents relating to the preparation and issue of office memorandums, numbered and unnumbered, or comparable continuing instructions that apply only to internal administrative practices and housekeeping details within the preparing office. Included are copies of the instructions and communications related to them.
        Destroy when superseded by new instructions or when obsolete
        Office Organization Files.
        Documents relating to the organization and function of an office, such as copies of documents which are duplicated in other offices responsible for the organization and functions of state government. Included are:
        Copies of functional charts and functional statements, copies of documents relating to office staffing and personnel strength.
        Documents reflecting minor changes in the organization which are made by the head of the office and which do not require commissioner approval.
        Destroy when superseded, obsolete, or no longer needed for reference.
        Records Access File.
        Correspondence or listings received by or prepared by an office, giving name and other identification of individuals authorized access to office records, particularly confidential records.
        Destroy when superseded, obsolete, or no longer    needed for reference
        Office Record Transmittal Files.
        Copies of records, transmittal forms showing files transferred to the State Records Center for State Archives.
        Destroy when records listed thereon have been destroyed. For permanent records and records transferred to the State Archives retain indefinitely
        Office Financial Files.
        Documents that relate to the participation of offices in matters that concern the expenditure of funds, such as cost estimates for travel, correspondence with budget offices, funds for long distance telephone calls, receipts for bonds and checks, or comparable documents affecting funds. This authorization does not apply to Finance and Budget Offices that accumulate similar files in the performance of mission functions.
        Destroy after 1 year
        Office Property Record Files
        Cards, lists, receipts, or comparable documents showing accountable property charged to an office.
        Destroy when superseded, obsolete, or upon turn-in of property
        Office Space Assignment Record Files
        Documents reflecting administrative space assigned to an office.
        Destroy when superseded or obsolete
        Office Service and Supply Files
        Documents relating to supply and equipment used by an office; office space and utilities, communications, transportation requests, custodial or other services required by an office; and to the general maintenance of an office. Included are:
        Requests for supplies, receipts for supplies and equipment, and similar matters
        Requests and other documents concerning issue of keys and/or locks to an office
        Requests for publications and blank forms and other papers relating to the supply and distribution of publications to the office
        Documents relating to local transportation
        Documents relating to custodial services required by an office
        Requests for installation of telephones, floor plans showing location of offices, telephone extensions, requests for changes to telephone directories, and similar papers
        Documents relating to modification repair, or change to office heating, lighting, ventilation, cooling, electrical, and plumbing systems.
        Documents relating to painting, partitioning, repairing, or other aspects of maintaining the office physical structure.
        Documents relating to other logistical services required by or provided to an office.
        Destroy 1 year after completion of action
        Office Management System Files.
        Documents related to the use and approval of a micromation system, an automated filing system, or similar systems.
        Destroy when system is no longer in effect
      6. Office Personnel Files
        Office General Personnel Files
        Documents that relate to the day-to-day administration of personnel in individual offices. Included are notices of holidays and hours worked; notices about participation in athletic events and employee unions; notifications and lists of employees to receive State medical services, including X-rays and immunizations; notices and lists of individuals to receive training; and comparable or related papers.
        Destroy after 1 year
        Office Personnel Locator Files
        Cards or sheets showing name, address, and telephone number and similar data for each office employee.
        Destroy on transfer or separation of individual
        Employee Record Files
        Printouts or cards that provide complete information on employees, positions, strength authorizations and actions in process.
        Forward to gaining organization upon transfer within state government. Place in Supervisor/Agency Employee Personnel Folder upon separation
        Job Description Files
        Supervisor's copies of official job descriptions
        Destroy on abolishment of position, super-sessions of job description, or when no longer needed for reference
        Supervisory/Agency Employee Information Files
        Documents pertaining to the administration of individual employees which are duplicated in, or which are not appropriate for inclusion in the official Personnel Folder filed in the Job Description File, or similar official personnel records.
        Included are:
        Copies of performance appraisals
        Approval for off-duty employment
        Papers relating to individual injuries
        Letters of commendation and appreciation
        Documents reflecting assigned responsibilities of individuals
        Records showing training received by individuals
        Copy of PNF 201 Forms
        Review at end of each calendar year and destroy documents which have been superseded or are no longer applicable
        For separated employees, place in an active file and destroy 3 years after termination
      7. Office Reference Files​​​
        Reference Publication Files
        Copies of publications, such as catalogs, brochures, and manuals issued by any element of state government, other states, US Government agencies and private concerns maintained for reference within an office.
        Destroy when superseded, obsolete, or no longer needed for reference. Books which are on property records will be returned to supply.
        Technical Material Reference Files
        Copies of technical materials, such as transparencies, charts, sound recordings, motion picture, and still photographs maintained for reference purposes.
        Destroy when superseded, obsolete, or maps, no longer needed for reference
        Reading Files
        Extra copies of outgoing communications, arranged chronologically, and maintained as a cross reference file or for periodic review by staff members.
        Destroy after 1 year
        Policy and Precedent Files
        Extra copies of documents establishing policy or precedent for future and continuing action. (This does not include the official record copies of policy and precedent documents, which are usually filed in other subject or functional files in an office.)
        Destroy when superseded, obsolete, or no longer needed for reference
        Travel Authorization Files
        Copies of request and authorization for in-state and out-of-state travel and related correspondence
        Destroy after 1 year



November 15, 1983 SBR Presidents Meeting; Revised July 1, 1984; Revised July 1, 1985; Revised September 1, 1986; Approved May 14, 1991, Presidents Meeting and implemented August 6, 1993 after approval by State Records Commission; May 5, 1998, Presidents Meeting; May 21, 2002 Presidents Meeting; May 16, 2006 Presidents Meeting. 


Mickey Sheen