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NPSAS helps fulfill the NCES mandate to collect, analyze, and publish statistics related to education. The purpose of NPSAS is to compile a comprehensive research dataset, based on student-level records, on financial aid provided by the federal government, the states, postsecondary institutions, employers, and private agencies, along with student demographic and enrollment data. NPSAS is the primary source of information used by the federal government (and others, such as researchers and higher education associations) to analyze student financial aid and to inform public policy on such programs as the Pell grants and Stafford loans.

Survey Design and Methodology

NPSAS data come from multiple sources, including institutional records, government databases, and student interviews. Detailed data on participation in student financial aid programs are extracted from institutional records. Data about family circumstances, demographics, education and work experiences, and student expectations are collected from students through a web-based multi-mode interview (self-administered and computer-assisted telephone (CATI)).

NPSAS Longitudinal Spin-offs

As a large, nationally representative sample of institutions and students, NPSAS offers a highly efficient, cost-effective way to identify nationally representative samples of student subpopulations of interest to policymakers and to obtain baseline data for longitudinal study of these subpopulations. Specifically, NPSAS data provide the base-year sample for the Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) longitudinal study and the Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B) longitudinal study. For BPS, the longitudinal cohort consisted of students beginning their postsecondary education during the NPSAS year (NPSAS:90, NPSAS:96, NPSAS:04, and NPSAS:12); BPS surveys followed these students over time to examine such issues as persistence and the effects of financial aid on subsequent enrollment. For B&B, NPSAS provided the base-year sample of students obtaining a baccalaureate degree during the NPSAS year (NPSAS:93, NPSAS:2000, NPSAS:08, and NPSAS:16); the B&B surveys followed these students over time to examine issues such as the transition from college to work and access to graduate school.