You are not legally required to provide your social security number on college applications: your social security number is private.  Schools are not required to ask for it.  It will be required for a college loan, but it  should not be required for a college application.  That’s why I recommend that you do NOT put a social security number on your transcript.

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For more information, read this document from the Social Security Administration: Legal requirements to provide your Social Security Number.

“Giving your SSN is voluntary, even when you are asked for the number directly. If requested, you should ask why your SSN is needed, how your number will be used, what law requires you to give your number and what the consequences are if you refuse. The answers to these questions can help you decide if you want to give your Social Security number. The decision is yours.”

When a college asked for a social security number, I wrote “Not applicable” on the application form.  None of the college asked me the question again. Once admitted to a college you will be asked to fill out additional paperwork for financial aid. You can provide a social security number at that time, to that single college.  That can prevent those precious number from scattering through multiple colleges and multiple states with varying degrees of security.  If a college asks you for the number, you can refuse and then provide it later if necessary.

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This post was originally posted in July 2011.