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Student Alternative 2020/21 - Student Support Number

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Student Alternative 2020/21

Fields required from institutions in England

Student Support Number

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Short nameSSN

This field holds the Student Support Number assigned by Student Support Award Authorities (Northern Ireland Library Boards, Welsh Local Authorities, Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) and Student Loans Company (SLC)). It is the student identifier that is used in student finance communications between the Student Support Award Authorities, providers and SLC. The SSN is unique to each funded instance of engagement.

Applicable toEngland

Compulsory for all students in receipt of statutory finance in relation to any live instances they are attached to, except where Course.COURSEAIM ends in 90 or 99.


The SSN field is held at Student level, rather than Instance, as in practice it is rare for a student to possess more than one SSN. Where this is the case, the provider should return the most recent of the SSNs held.

It is also acceptable for an SSN to be returned even if an associated instance does not attract student support. If the student received a loan on Instance A for the first year, but not for the second year of the same instance, the SSN would still need to be returned in the second year. If Instance A closes and Instance B is opened but is not financed, the SSN would be removed.

SSN should be returned where any kind of funds from the SLC are being received by the returning student e.g. Maintenance loans, PG loans, etc.

Where a SSN number is assigned to a student, this should be returned throughout their instance of engagement, regardless of whether the student received any support during the session. We would only expect this value to change under exceptional circumstances.

Format of the SSN

The SSN is 13 characters long. The first four characters are alpha. The next 8 characters are numeric. The last character, which is a check character, is alpha.

Where a student may be in possession of multiple SSNs from different loan providers, the SSN returned in this field should be the one relating to the loan made for the payment of tuition fees.

Calculation of Checksum

The algorithm for calculating the checksum is as follows:

For positions 1 to 4 of the SSN:

  • Convert each character to a number using the following values:
    A=0, B=1, C=2, D=3, E=4, F=5, G=6, H=7, J=8, K=9, L=10, M=11, N=12, P=13, R=14, S=15, T=16, U=17, V=18, W=19, X=20, Y=21
  • Multiply each number by the weighting factor, which is 14 minus the position (i.e. 13 for position 1, 12 for position 2 etc)

For positions 5 to 12 of the SSN:

  • Multiply each value for positions 5 to 12 by the weighting factor, which is 14 minus the position (i.e. 9 for position 5, 8 for position 6 etc)

Calculate the check character:

  • Divide the sum of the calculated values for positions 1 to 12 by 23 to get a remainder (i.e. if summed value was 475 then the remainder would be 15)
  • Subtract this remainder from 23 and convert this value to a character using the following values:
    1=A, 2=B, 3=C, 4=D, 5=E, 6=F, 7=G, 8=H, 9=J, 10=K, 11=L, 12=M, 13=N, 14=P, 15=R, 16=S, 17=T, 18=U, 19=V, 20=W, 21=X, 22=Y, 23=Z
  • This is the check character, so if validating a captured SSN this should match position 13 of the SSN.

Note: characters I, O, Q are not valid characters in the SSN. Z is only valid in position 13.

Worked example

When the Student Support Number = WADM46891352A

  1. Convert the characters to numbers using the values, so W=19, A=0, D=3, M=11.

  2. Multiply each number by the weighting factor.

  3. Positions: 1 2 3 4
    Weighting factor: 13 12 11 10

    (W=19*13=247), (A=0*12=0), (D=3*11=33), (M=11*10=110)

  4. For positions 5 to 12 (46891352) multiply the number by the weighting factor.

  5. Positions: 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    Weighting factor: 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

    (4*9=36), (6*8=48), (8*7=56), (9*6=54), (1*5=5), (3*4=12), (5*3=15), (2*2=4)

  6. Sum the calculated values for positions 1 to 12.
  7. (247+0+33+110+36+48+56+54+5+12+15+4=620)

  8. Divide this number by 23 to get a remainder.
  9. (620/23=26 with a remainder of 22)

  10. Subtract the remainder from 23 and convert this value to a character.
  11. (23-22=1=A)

This is the check character and this matches position 13 of the SSN.


For example

Student Support Number = WADM46891352A

Quality rules
Quality rules relating to this entity are displayed here.
Reason required To enable robust linking between HESA data and the student finance data held by SLC.
Part of
Field length13
Minimum occurrences0
Maximum occurrences1
Schema components
Element: SSN
Data type: SSNType
Date modified2021-08-20
Change management notesGuidance added to provide clarification that the SSN should be returned throughout the instance of engagement, regardless of whether the student received any support during the session.

Contact Liaison by email or on +44 (0)1242 388 531.