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About BPS

Each cycle of the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) follows a cohort of students who are enrolled in their first year of postsecondary education. The study collects data on student persistence in, and completion of, postsecondary education programs, their transition to employment, demographic characteristics, and changes over time in their goals, marital status, income, and debt, among other indicators. BPS tracks students' paths through postsecondary education and helps answer questions of policy interest, such as why students leave school, how financial aid influences persistence and completion, and what percentages of students complete various degree programs.

Survey Design and Methodology

BPS draws its cohorts from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), which collects data from large, nationally representative samples of postsecondary students and institutions to examine how students pay for their postsecondary education.

Cohort members of the most recent completed BPS study, BPS:12/17, were initially surveyed at the end of their first academic year (2011-12) and then received invitations to participate in follow-up surveys at the end of their third (2013-14) and sixth (2016-17) years after entry into postsecondary education. The final BPS:12/17 dataset contains information on approximately 22,500 students. Prior cohorts include BPS:90/94 (around 8,000 students), BPS:96/2001 (around 12,000 students), and BPS:04/09 (around 16,700 students). For the BPS:04/09 and BPS:12/17 cohorts, postsecondary transcripts were also collected to provide an additional resource for analysis of studentsí academic experiences. The current cohort, BPS:20/22, began their postsecondary education in the 2019-20 academic year. They will be invited to complete surveys in 2020, 2022, and 2025.