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The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) examines the characteristics of students in postsecondary education, with special focus on how they finance their education.

National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) Features

  • Nationally representative cross-sectional study of undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in postsecondary education
  • First conducted in 1987; most recent data from 2015-16
  • Examines the characteristics of students in postsecondary education, with a special focus on how they finance their education
  • Connects multiple data sources including student interviews, institution records, government databases, and other administrative sources
  • State-representative data for most states available from NPSAS:18-AC (expected 2020)

DataLab

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Information for Survey Participants

  • Institutions – NPSAS:20 institution contacting begins in October 2019.
  • Students – NPSAS:20 student data collection begins in February 2020.

Highlights

  • September 2019: New Web Tables are available, providing trend data on the percentage of undergraduates who received a Pell Grant and the average amount they received based on selected student and enrollment characteristics, and by control and level of institution attended. For more information, go to: https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2019487.
  • May 2019: New Web Tables are available, providing data on income, cost of attendance, and financial aid for students based on the control and level of the institutions attended, their demographic characteristics, enrollment patterns, and dependency status. For more information, go to: https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2019431.
  • April 2019: Data collection has concluded for NPSAS:18-AC, the first NPSAS designed to provide state-representative data on a wide scale. Sign up via NewsFlash for alerts when these data become available.

Historical Background

The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) is a study of financial aid that NCES has conducted since 1987. The study collects comprehensive data about how students and their families pay for postsecondary education and also serves as the foundation and base year cohort for the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) and Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B).

The Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) tracks first-time students’ pathways through postsecondary education over the course of six years, focusing on persistence and degree attainment, transition to employment, and school and work experiences. National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) administrations in 1990, 1996, 2004, 2012, and 2020 (forthcoming) identified the BPS cohorts.

The Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B) follows bachelor’s degree recipients over the course of 10 years, collecting data on workforce participation, income and debt repayment, and graduate school patterns. National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) administrations in 1993, 2000, 2008, and 2016 identified the B&B cohorts.

NCES collects transcript data from postsecondary institutions for various longitudinal studies, including the Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) and Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B) longitudinal studies. Postsecondary Education Transcript Study (PETS) collections allow further examination of course-taking patterns, credit transfer, student momentum and attrition, and the connections among students’ education choices, occupations, and wages. Transcripts were most recently collected for the BPS:12 cohort. Postsecondary education transcript collections include:

  • 1984 – NLS-72
  • 1993 – HS&B
  • 1994 – B&B:93
  • 2000 – NELS:88
  • 2010 – BPS:04
  • 2010 – B&B:08
  • 2014 – ELS:2002
  • 2017 – HSLS:09
  • 2018 – BPS:12
NPSAS – National Postsecondary Student Aid Study
NPSAS:AC – National Postsecondary Student Aid Study: Administrative Collection
BPS – Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study
B&B – Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study
PETS – Postsecondary Education Transcript Studies
*Awarded but not yet funded