The Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) is composed of the students who participated in the 199596 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:96) who enrolled in postsecondary education for the first time in 199596. The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) is a comprehensive nationwide study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to determine how students and their families pay for postsecondary education.1 It also describes demographic and other characteristics of students enrolled. The study is based on a nationally representative sample of all students in postsecondary education institutions, including undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional students. For NPSAS:96, information was obtained from more than 830 postsecondary institutions on approximately 44,500 undergraduate, 8,700 graduate, and 2,500 first-professional students. They represented about 16.7 million undergraduates, 2.4 million graduate students, and 300,000 first-professional students who were enrolled at some time between July 1, 1995 and June 30, 1996.
The BPS sample consists of approximately 12,000 students identified in NPSAS:96 who were beginning postsecondary education for the first time. The first follow-up of the BPS cohort (BPS:96/98) occurred in the spring and summer of 1998, approximately 3 years after they first enrolled. Approximately 10,300 of the students who first began in 199596 were located and interviewed in the first follow-up. The weighted effective response rate for potential members of the BPS cohort in the NPSAS:96 base year was 77.6 percent. The weighted effective response rate in the 1998 follow-up of the NPSAS:96 respondents was 85.9 percent. The overall weighted response rate (including those who were nonrespondents in NPSAS:96) for the BPS:96/98 first follow-up was 79.8 percent.2
The BPS:96/98 Data Analysis System includes a sample weight for longitudinal analysis of the data through 1998 (B98AWT). All the estimates in this report are based on this weight.