The U.S. Department of Education's legal right to require your Social Security Number (SSN) is found in section 484(a)(4)(B) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). That section states that you must provide the U.S. Department of Education with your SSN in order to be eligible for federal student aid under the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Direct Loan, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work-study, Federal Perkins Loan Programs, and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant.

The U.S. Department of Education is authorized to collect all other information under sections 474, 475, 476, 477, 479, 480, and 483 of the HEA.

If you want federal student aid only, you do not have to answer certain questions. See Questions You Don’t Have to Answer for more information. Of course, if you want to apply for state financial aid, you must answer all the relevant questions.