Login Identity Protection Build Credit Pricing Employers Support Schools Parents PTAs PTOs and Education Foundations  Superintendents, Business Officers, and School Boards Resources About Us Contact Us Education Center Press Releases In the News FAQ
Resources > Education Center > Why Do Schools Ask for a Social Security Number—Main Reasons Explained

Why Do Schools Ask for a Social Security Number—Main Reasons Explained

You’re signing your child up for school, and the paperwork asks for their Social Security number (SSN)as a concerned parent, you have every right to wonder why schools require sensitive information like SSNs.

The truth is, some state laws might require schools to request SSNs in specific cases, mainly for record-keeping purposes. But should you hand that number over without understanding how it might be used and who has access to it? This article will answer the question, “Why do schools ask for a Social Security number?” and guide you on what you, as a parent, can do to protect your child’s personal information.

Why Is a Social Security Number Required for School Applications?

Schools in the United States may request students’ SSNs for various reasons. Here are the four common ones:

  1. Student identification and record-keeping
  2. Scholarship and financial aid verification
  3. Fraud prevention and tax reporting
  4. Parent or guardian identification

Student Identification and Record-Keeping

By collecting SSNs, schools can easily track and maintain accurate student records, including details like date of enrollment, grades, and attendance. This helps in organizing student records and streamlining administrative processes. SSNs serve as a unique identifier for each individual, and having this information allows schools to accurately verify student identities.

Scholarship and Financial Aid Verification

Many scholarships, grants, and other forms of student financial assistance require verification of your child’s SSN to ensure that only eligible students receive these benefits. For instance, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) requires students to provide their SSN to determine their eligibility for aid. Providing your child’s SSN enables schools to accurately verify whether your child meets the conditions for these programs.

Fraud Prevention and Tax Reporting

SSN collection for verifying student identities allows schools to ensure that the right person is accessing and using a student’s information, preventing fraudulent activities. SSNs also play a crucial role in facilitating tax reporting for the school and the students. Additionally, schools may provide tax-related benefits, such as educational tax credits, for which the IRS would need the student’s SSN to verify eligibility.

Parent or Guardian Identification

Schools may ask for a parent’s or guardian’s SSN for identification purposes. This is especially important in situations that require legal verification or authorization. For instance, when addressing custody disputes or ensuring that only authorized individuals can access a student’s confidential records, the parent or guardian’s SSN becomes an essential verification tool.

By collecting the SSNs of parents or guardians, schools can ensure that they have accurate and up-to-date contact information, making it easier to reach out in case of emergencies or important updates.

Do Public Schools Require Children’s Social Security Number To Enroll?

Public schools don’t mandate the submission of a child’s SSN for enrollment. While some educational institutions might request an SSN for administrative reasons, it’s a discretionary choice for parents or guardians to provide it.

When a school requests an SSN during the registration process, typically for student identification purposes, they’re obligated to:

  • Notify parents and the student that the provision of the SSN is optional
  • Assure that declining to provide the SSN won’t bar the student’s enrollment or attendance
  • Clarify the specific reason behind the SSN request

Is It Safe To Give SSN to Schools?

The safety risks of providing your child’s SSN to schools are a valid concern. While schools have legitimate reasons for asking for this information, it’s essential to ensure proper security measures are in place to protect your child’s sensitive data.

Schools should have policies and procedures in place to safeguard the collection and storage of SSNs. This includes:

  • Encryption
  • Restricted access to databases
  • Regular security audits

Additionally, schools should educate their staff on the importance of data privacy and provide training on how to handle and protect students’ SSNs.

It’s also important to understand your rights as a parent or guardian, as well as the rights of the student. According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), schools must protect the privacy of student education records. Familiarize yourself with the school’s privacy policies and ask questions if you have concerns about who has access to your child’s SSN, how it will be used, and how securely it will be stored.

Alternatives to Providing the SSN

If you’re uncomfortable providing your child’s SSN, discuss alternative options with the school. Schools are increasingly aware of privacy concerns and may offer other options, such as:

OptionWhat It Entails
Using an alternate ID numberSome schools will allow you to provide an alternate ID number instead of an SSN. This could be a student ID number, state ID number, or other form of identification. Check with your school to see if this is allowed and what documentation they’ll accept
Exempting your childCertain states allow parents to exempt their child from providing an SSN for enrollment. You’ll need to request an exemption in writing, citing privacy concerns
Partial SSNSome institutions might allow the provision of just the last four digits of the SSN, which provides a level of identification without disclosing the full number

How To Protect Your Child’s SSN

While schools often request SSNs only for administrative purposes, this practice comes with risks. These include potential data breaches or mishandling of information, which could lead to identity theft.

School-aged children are particularly vulnerable targets for this type of crime. Their clean credit histories make them attractive to identity thieves looking for a fresh slate to exploit—this way, criminals can open new accounts, obtain loans, and make purchases without raising any suspicion. They can also use the child’s SSN to create a new identity for themselves, which they can then use to commit other crimes, such as tax evasion or welfare fraud.

Here are four strategies to ensure your child’s data is as safe as possible:

  1. Educate your child
  2. Secure physical documents
  3. Limit sharing
  4. Monitor for misuse

Educate Your Child

Teach your child never to share their SSN with anyone, especially over the phone, email, or websites. Let them know that schools, colleges, or scholarship programs normally wouldn’t ask for it in these ways. Warn them about phishing emails and malicious links that try to steal personal data.

Secure Physical Documents

SSNs are often found on important documents such as Social Security cards, medical records, or tax forms. Physical theft remains a common method by which identity thieves can access SSNs. Keeping these documents in a locked file cabinet, safe, or safety deposit box ensures they remain out of reach of anyone who shouldn’t have access to them.

Limit Sharing

Avoid giving out your child’s SSN unless it’s mandatory. If a school or other organizations request your child’s SSN, inquire about their data protection policies and the reason why they need the number. By being selective about who you provide the SSN to, you’re minimizing the number of opportunities for your child’s SSN to be compromised.

Monitor for Misuse

To protect your child’s identity, monitor their school records, transcripts, and accounts for any signs of fraud or SSN misuse. Periodically request a credit report for your child—the three major consumer credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—are required to provide at least one free credit report annually. Note that children typically don’t have a credit history—if they do, it’s a sign their SSN might have been compromised. You should also sign up for credit profile monitoring to receive alerts for any suspicious activities. If you notice possible signs of fraud, you can file a report to:

How To Reduce the Risk of Identity Fraud With FreeKick

For extra peace of mind, you can rely on identity monitoring services like FreeKick to help you protect your child’s personal information as well as your own. With features especially fitting for minors, FreeKick can help monitor your child’s SSN for fraudulent use and more.

Combining services designed to monitor, protect, and restore your family members’ identities, FreeKick provides comprehensive identity protection for up to two adult parents and six children aged 0 to 25. But that’s not all—FreeKick helps your children aged 14 to 25 get a financial head start through credit building, allowing them to save up to $200,000 throughout adulthood.

FreeKick’s ID Monitoring Services (Coming Soon)

For minor children, FreeKick features enhanced security measures designed to reduce the risk of child identity theft, including:

  • Credit profile monitoring 
  • Social Security number monitoring 
  • Dark Web monitoring for child’s personal information 
  • Up to $1 million identity theft insurance 
  • Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration 
  • Sex offender monitoring—based on sponsor parent’s address

Meanwhile, parents and adult children can count on the following identity protection services:

  • Credit profile monitoring
  • Social Security number monitoring
  • Dark Web monitoring for personal information
  • Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
  • Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration 
  • Lost wallet protection
  • Court records monitoring
  • Change of address monitoring
  • Non-Credit (Payday) loan monitoring
  • Free FICO® Score monthly
  • FICO® Score factors
  • Experian credit report monthly

Parent-Sponsored Credit Building (Coming Soon)

In addition to ID monitoring, FreeKick offers automated credit-building to set your children up for financial success from a young age without using the discredited authorized user approach.

To begin their credit journey, you only need to select Activate Credit Building in your account dashboard when your child turns 14. Once your child becomes an adult (age 18 in most states), all they have to do is select Activate Credit Reporting. If they are already 18 or older, there’s no need for this extra step.

After credit reporting is activated, a credit account for $1,000 will be reported to all three major consumer credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion)—including the account opening date, amount of credit, type of credit, and last 24 months of payment history. Here’s how the process works:

  1. Create a FreeKick Account—Register at FreeKick.bank and select a suitable plan
  2. Set It and Forget It—After activating credit building, FreeKick will establish 12 months of credit history for your child via a no-interest installment loan
  3. Keep Growing—After the first 12-month term, you can renew the account to continue enhancing your child’s credit score

FreeKick Pricing

To suit every budget, FreeKick offers a range of plans that include premium identity protection for two parents and up to six children and credit building for up to six children aged 14 to 25. You can find more details in the table below:

FDIC-Insured Deposit AmountPlan Fee
$3,000$0 (Free)

Ready to kickstart your children’s financial future while safeguarding the identities of your family members? Sign up for FreeKick today.