Mar 15, 2023 - News

University of Minnesota may eliminate "forever" emails for alumni, retirees

An animation of a mail icon with an error alert morphing into a "1" badge

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The University of Minnesota is considering eliminating "forever" emails, removing a long-running alumni perk and potentially shutting down more than 10,000 accounts by 2024.

Context: Unlike many colleges, the U has allowed graduates and retired faculty to retain their email addresses forever, as long as they log in at least once a year.

  • The accounts, which are hosted through Gmail, receive unlimited storage in Google Drive — a plan so big, it's not even available as an upgrade for regular users.
  • A free Google account includes 15 gigabytes of storage.

Why it matters: With email increasingly being used for record keeping and storage, thousands of alumni and former employees would have to transfer troves of data to a new account.

What they're saying: The U initially chose to allow lifetime access when free emails weren't widely available and unlimited data storage was free or low cost, a spokesperson for the university told Axios.

  • But because Google has since eliminated free unlimited storage, allowing access for all would cost the U at least $350,000 a year, beginning in 2024.
  • The roughly 2.3 petabytes of alumni and retiree data take up almost a quarter of the U's Google Workspace. That's enough data to fill over 150,000 free Gmail accounts.

Plus: The large number of account holders coupled with the rise in email phishing scams could now put the U at risk, not just an individual, according to a university presentation.

What's next: The U is considering several options, including an address. No accounts would be shut down before phase one begins in 2024.

💭 My thought bubble: I've linked many accounts to my U email in the last six years. Transferring everything would take a lot of time and energy.

  • Not saying I've done it, but I've also heard the email occasionally worked to get student discounts, even after graduation. I would (hypothetically) miss that.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Twin Cities.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Twin Cities stories

No stories could be found

Twin Citiespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Twin Cities.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more