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PEDAR: Research Methodology Gender Differences in Participation and Completion of Undergraduate Education and How They Have Changed Over Time
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
The Current Population Survey
National Postsecondary Student Aid Study
High School and Beyond Longitudinal Study
National Educational Longitudinal Study
Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study
1989-90 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study
1995-96 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study
Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study
1993/97 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study
2000/01 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study
Accuracy of Estimates
Item Response Rates
Data Analysis System
Statistical Procedures
Differences Between Means
Executive Summary
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)
 The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study

The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) is a comprehensive nationwide study conducted by NCES to determine how students and their families pay for postsecondary education.1 It also describes demographic and other characteristics of students enrolled. The NPSAS study is based on a nationally representative sample of all students in postsecondary education institutions, including undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional students. Information is collected from institutions, student interviews, and government data files. For this study, data were analyzed for undergraduates from three administrations of the NPSAS survey: NPSAS:90, NPSAS:96, and NPSAS:2000. These surveys each represent more than 16 million undergraduates who were enrolled at some point between July 1 and June 30 of the survey years. The institutional weighted response rates for these NPSAS administrations all exceeded 85 percent as discussed in the next section.

The NPSAS:90 survey achieved an overall weighted response rate of 86 percent among institutions. For the student Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI), the response rate was 76 percent.2 NPSAS:96 had an institutional response rate of 91 percent and a student CATI response rate of 76 percent.3 For NPSAS:2000, the institutional response rate was 97 percent and the weighted overall student interview response rate was 66 percent.4 Because the student telephone interview response rate for NPSAS:2000 was less than 70 percent in some institutional sectors, an analysis was conducted to determine if estimates were significantly biased due to CATI nonresponse. Considerable information was known for CATI nonrespondents and these data were used to analyze and estimate the bias. The distributions of several variables using the design-based, adjusted weights for study respondents (study weights) were found to be biased before CATI nonresponse adjustments. The CATI nonresponse and poststratification procedures, however, adjusted for the bias in these variables; and the remaining relative bias ranged from 0 to 0.35 percent.5

The NPSAS:90 survey had only one weight, the study weight (WTA00), while NPSAS:96 and NPSAS:2000 had two weights, the study weight (WTA00), used for analysis of variables derived from sources other than the student interview, and the CATI weight (WTB00), used for analysis of variables asked in or derived from the student interview. In this study, the study weight was used for analyzing all the variables except hours worked while enrolled and students’ risk status, which were derived from the CATI. In tables where these variables are included, the NPSAS:96 and NPSAS:2000 CATI weight was used.

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