What Background Checks Do Colleges Do?

What Background Checks Do Colleges Do?

When exploring the realm of higher education, a common query arises: “What background checks do colleges do?” This question is particularly pertinent for prospective students, faculty members, and other stakeholders within the educational sector. Colleges and universities are increasingly recognizing the importance of conducting comprehensive, fast, affordable, and FCRA-compliant background checks to ensure the safety and integrity of their campuses. This article aims to elucidate the types of background checks conducted by colleges, how these checks work, their components, and the overall process.

How Background Checks Work in Colleges

Colleges and universities undertake background checks to verify the identities, backgrounds, and qualifications of prospective students, employees, and faculty members. The process involves obtaining consent from the individual and then gathering relevant information from both public and private records. This can include criminal records, educational history, employment history, and more, depending on the position or enrollment being considered.

Common Components of a Typical College Background Check

  • Social Security Trace: Used to verify an individual’s identity and to trace their address history.
  • Criminal History Check: Searches for any criminal records at the county, state, and federal levels.
  • Sex Offender Registry Check: Ensures the individual is not listed on any state, national, or international sex offender registry.
  • Educational Verification: Confirms degrees, diplomas, and certifications obtained.
  • Employment Verification: Verifies previous employment history, when applicable for faculty or staff positions.

Steps of the Background Check Process

  1. Consent: Background checks require written consent from the individual being screened.
  2. Collection of Information: Essential details, including the individual’s name, date of birth, Social Security number, and past addresses, are collected.
  3. Research: Specialists access and review data from various databases, both public and private.
  4. Verification: The information gathered is verified for accuracy.
  5. Compilation of Report: A detailed report is compiled, summarizing the findings of the background check.

How Far Back Does a College Background Check Go?

The extent to which a background check can delve into an individual’s past varies based on the type of check and the laws of the state where the college or university is located. Generally, criminal background checks can go back 7 to 10 years. However, some states have “ban the box” laws that limit the use of criminal history in admission and employment decisions, impacting how far back colleges can look.

What Typically Shows Up in the Results?

Results can vary widely but typically include:

  • Criminal History: Any convictions or pending cases, subject to state laws and FCRA regulations.
  • Education and Employment History: Verification of the individual’s claimed education and past employment.
  • Identity Verification: Confirmation of the individual’s identity through a Social Security trace.
  • Sex Offender Status: Whether the individual is listed on any sex offender registries.


Understanding “What background checks do colleges do?” is crucial for individuals navigating the higher education landscape. Colleges conduct these checks to ensure the safety, security, and integrity of their campuses. For colleges seeking a reliable background screening provider, EDIFY Background Screening offers comprehensive services that are tailored to meet the unique needs of the educational sector. Our experience and technology enable us to conduct thorough background investigations efficiently and affordably, ensuring compliance with the FCRA and state laws.

Prospective clients looking for a qualified consumer reporting agency are encouraged to explore how EDIFY Background Screening can assist with their background screening needs. For more information, please contact us at 336-283-0237 or visit www.edifyscreening.com. Trust us to provide the detailed, accurate, and timely background checks necessary for maintaining the safety and integrity of your educational institution.

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