Other universities use an alternate identification to Social Security

Last year, the University of Illinois decided that Social Security numbers had outlived their usefulness.

At the same time, the University of Michigan had stopped using them for over a decade.

Officials from both universities, though, said they are glad they switched.

At the University of Illinois, a random number -- the Unique Identification Number -- is now the student ID number.

"Having a Social Security number is the key to stealing someone's identity," Livingstone said. "We have an obligation to our students and employees to protect their private information. We have no excuse not to do it.

"We don't have any choice. It's always worth it to obey the law."

The UIN, implemented in 1994, operates like the Social Security number at Ball State, allowing students to check out books and use the computer lab.

"Part of what we're trying to do is raise the bar of Social Security prevention," said Michael Corn, associate director of Planning and Budgeting at the University of Illinois. "We're really in the business of protecting privacy."

Like Ball State, Corn said, some of the computer systems are still dependent on Social Security numbers. He said it would be impossible to change every system quickly.

"It would be a processing nightmare," Corn said. "It would bring the institution to its knees, and it would probably do the same thing for you guys."

Much like the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan relies on a random number for student identification.

"It has no correlation to the Social Security number," said Paul Robinson, the university's registrar.


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