P.O. BOX 2120




May 30, 2003




Division Superintendents



Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Use of Social Security Numbers for School Enrollment


The purpose of this memorandum is to notify school divisions of a change in the requirement that parents provide school divisions with a social security number for each student at the time of enrollment in school. During the 2003 General Assembly, House Bill 1716 was passed amending 22.1-260 of the Code of Virginia. This section of the Code, as amended, continues to require each student to present a federal social security number within 90 days of his or her enrollment and to require the Board of Education to promulgate guidelines for determining which students are eligible to obtain social security numbers. The following change was made, however, regarding students whose parents are unable or unwilling to provide a social security number for them:


In any case in which a student is ineligible, pursuant to these guidelines, to obtain a social security number or the parent is unwilling to present such number, the superintendent or his designee may assign another identifying number to the student or waive this requirement.


The Board of Education provided school divisions with the Guidelines for Administering the Requirement for Public School Students to Obtain a Social Security Number on June 15, 1988, via Supts. Memo No. 125 INFORMATIONAL (attached). These guidelines permit a division superintendent to waive the social security number requirement and assign a student an alternative number for identification under certain circumstances including the following:


           a student, along with his parents, by reason of bona fide religious training or belief, is conscientiously opposed to having a federal social security number;

           the students application for a social security number would require disclosure of his illegal immigration status to a federal agency; and

           the student is a member of a non-immigrant family that is legally temporarily living in the United States, such as families whose members are employed in embassies or in other international organizations.


The 2003 amendment to 22.1-260 of the Code now provides that the requirement may be waived or another identifying number be assigned in instances where the student is ineligible to receive a social security number or the parent is unwilling to present a social security number for the student.


There are additional requirements that govern the requests for social security numbers for students from parents. No child may be excluded from school for failure to provide a social security number. Section 7 of the Privacy Act (found at 5 U.S.C. 522a note) requires that no person be denied a right, benefit or privilege provided by law because of his refusal to disclose his social security number. This law also requires agencies that request social security numbers to inform the individual whether disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, by what statutory authority the number is requested, and what uses will be made of the number. Finally, section 2.2-3808 of the Code of Virginia makes it unlawful for any agency to require an individual to disclose or furnish his or her social security number not previously disclosed or furnished, for any purpose in connection with any activity, or to refuse any service privilege or right to an individual wholly or partly because the individual does not disclose or furnish such number, unless the disclosure or furnishing of such number is specifically required by state or federal law.


If you have questions, please contact Cynthia A. Cave, director of policy, at (804) 371-0558 or at