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Dealing With Debt: 1992-93 Bachelorís Degree Recipients 10 Years Later - The 1993-2003 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study

The 1993–2003 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study

The estimates and statistics reported in the tables and figures of this report are based on data from the first, second, and third follow-ups of the 1993–2003 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:93/03). This study tracks the experiences of a cohort of college graduates who received a baccalaureate degree during the 1992–93 academic year and were first interviewed as part of the 1992–93 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:93), conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. NPSAS is based on a nationally representative sample of all students in postsecondary education institutions, including undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional students. For NPSAS:93, information was obtained from about 1,100 postsecondary institutions on approximately 53,000 undergraduates and about 13,000 graduate and first-professional students who were enrolled at some time between July 1, 1992, and June 30, 1993.

For B&B:93/03, those members of the NPSAS:93 sample who completed a bachelor’s degree between July 1, 1992, and June 30, 1993, were identified and contacted for a 1-year follow-up interview in 1994. The second follow-up of the B&B cohort occurred in 1997, approximately 4 years after graduation. The final follow-up survey 10 years after graduation, in 2003, is the focus of this report. However, the estimates in this report are based on the approximately 8,100 bachelor’s degree recipients who participated in all four surveys—the NPSAS base-year survey and the three follow-ups—representing about 1.2 million bachelor’s degree completers (U.S. Department of Education 2004b, table 252).

The NPSAS:93 sample, while representative and statistically accurate, was not a simple random sample. Instead, the survey sample was selected using a more complex three-step procedure with stratified samples and differential probabilities of selection at each level. First, primary sampling units (PSUs) were selected within the geographic coverage of NPSAS (the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico). Second, for each selected PSU, individual postsecondary institutions—organized into 22 strata by control (i.e., public, private not-for-profit, or private for-profit) and level of degree offering (less-than-2-year, 2- to 3-year, 4-year non-doctorate-granting, and 4-year doctorate-granting)—were selected. Finally, eligible students were selected within the responding sample institutions. The NPSAS:93 survey sample yielded an overall weighted institutional response rate of 88 percent. For more information about the NPSAS:93 survey, refer to the Methodology Report for the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, 1992–93 (Loft et al. 1995).

For the first follow-up B&B interview in 1994, a total of about 10,100 eligible individuals completed the interview between June and December—using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI), with field interviewing when necessary—which corresponds to a weighted response rate of 90 percent (from the NPSAS:93-identified B&B eligible sample of about 11,000 cases). Data collection for the second follow-up interview of the B&B cohort took place between April and December 1997; about 10,100 individuals completed the interview, yielding a weighted response rate of 90 percent. For more information on procedures for the first and second follow-ups, consult the respective methodology reports (Green et al. [1996] for the first follow-up and Green et al. [1999] for the second follow-up).

Between February and September 2003, the third and final follow-up of the 1992–93 cohort of bachelor’s degree recipients was conducted. For the first time, students were offered the opportunity to conduct their own B&B interview via the Internet. A single, Web-based interview was designed and programmed for use as a self-administered interview, a telephone interview, and an in-person interview. All respondents to the 1997 interview were included for participation in the 2003 follow-up; a subsample of about one-third of nonrespondents from 1997 was also included, resulting in a final sample of about 10,400 individuals. Almost 9,000 members of this final sample responded, yielding a weighted response rate of 83 percent. For more details about the third follow-up survey procedures, consult the B&B:93/03 methodology report (Wine et al. 2006).

Except for having all graduated in the same academic year, the 1992–93 graduate cohort members could be as diverse as possible in other aspects (e.g., the degree recipients could have been enrolled sporadically over time or had been enrolled continuously; some might have delayed their entry to postsecondary education while others perhaps had gone to college right after completing high school). Therefore, the B&B:93/03 data provide the first opportunity to examine how a nationally representative, cross-sectional group of college graduates handled their undergraduate debt over a period of 10 years after graduation, the standard length of time allowed for paying off federal student loans. The B&B dataset contains comprehensive data on post-baccalaureate graduate enrollment, attainment, student demographic characteristics, and labor force participation and finances (including education loans). However, the student debt information collected through B&B refers only to the snapshot time point at the interviews, rather than a complete history of debt management, which was obtained using data from the National Student Loan Data System.