Office 365 Education for Students, Faculty and Staff: Tenant Management Guidance

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As part of the initiative to make it easier for students, faculty and staff to work together using Office 365 tools, Microsoft enabled self-service sign up for students with email addresses from academic institutions. What this means is that for each email-enabled subdomain that is not associated to a primary tenant under IT management control, Microsoft has established a relationship with that student to provide Office 365 to them under the program agreement.

As part of that agreement there has been a tenant created that is associated to that email extension, and other students who sign up with the same email extension will be added to the same newly created tenant.

What does this mean for my school?

Based on customer feedback we have identified some benefits and potential concerns of the self-service sign up process associated with your school’s email enabled domains.


  • In this arrangement, the student, faculty or staff member agrees to a relationship directly with Microsoft, thereby creating no additional responsibility for the institution itself.

  • Password reset is managed via email verification by Microsoft.

  • Eligibility verification is managed by Microsoft and verified on an annual basis.

  • From a school's perspective, students signing up for this offer is no different than using a school-provided email address for other online services.

  • Students who have signed up with the same email extension (e.g., will be in the same network and easily be able to share documents and collaborate with other students in their school.

Potential School Concerns

  • If the school has a long term initiative around tenant consolidation, student initiated tenants based on email enabled sub-domains may not be desired.

  • Some schools may have compliance concerns with student accounts created in a Microsoft managed environment. As stated in the program terms and conditions, Microsoft will investigate any customer complaints and may also deploy automated technologies to detect violations of the code of conduct governing the use of the services.

  • Limited school visibility into what students have signed up for the services, and usage of those services.

  • Potential concerns around FERPA compliance are addressed in the Program Technical FAQ.

As you evaluate what this means for your institution, keep in mind that there are viable alternatives to manage your users and still ensure they have access to the Office 365 ProPlus services that they received when they initially signed up. See below for additional details.

Next Steps

If you have decided that student self-service sign up is not appropriate for your institution and want to take steps to mitigate their use, following are some recommended next steps and links to additional resources.

  1. Assess what student initiated tenants mean for your institution.

  2. Join the student initiated tenant via self-service sign up using a valid email with the same email extension.

  3. Verify domain ownership via the gear in the top right, select Office 365 settings then "Become an admin" on the left hand menu, and click verify to confirm domain ownership.

  4. Block additional users from joining that tenant via the PowerShell scripts found in the Program Technical FAQ.

  5. Remove that email enabled sub-domain from that tenant. See the article Remove a domain.

  6. Log into your primary Office 365 tenant, and add the email enabled sub-domain to that tenant and add the users from the student led tenant to the primary school IT managed tenant.

  7. Determine migration path for student users who have joined the student led tenant:


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