psas National Postsecondary Student Aid Study - Overview
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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
  • Conducted every 3 to 4 years since 1987
  • 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 are now available from NPSAS:18-AC (released November 2021)
  • Data from NPSAS:20 are still being processed and expected by the end of 2022

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Information for Survey Participants

  • Institutions – NPSAS institution field test data collection activities begin in Fall 2022.
  • Students – NPSAS student field test data collection activities begin in March 2023.

Highlights

  • November 2021: 2017–18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS:18-AC) Restricted-Use Data File are now available. This restricted-use data file contains administrative record data on student financial aid, enrollment, demographic characteristics, institution characteristics, and income for approximately 245,000 undergraduate students and 21,000 graduate students attending 1,900 postsecondary institutions in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Data on undergraduate students are nationally representative, as well as state-representative for 30 states overall, 36 states for public 2-year institutions, and 45 states for public 4-year institutions. NPSAS:18-AC is based solely on data collected from administrative data sources and, unlike other NPSAS studies, does not include student survey data. For more information, go to: https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2022478
  • September 2021: Updated Online Data Tools in DataLab. NCES has released a new, updated version of DataLab, a platform of web-based tools that provide the public with access to data collected through NCES studies. For more information, go to: https://nces.ed.gov/datalab.
  • September 2021: First Look report presents findings from the 2017–18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS:18-AC). This report describes the percentages of students receiving various types of financial aid and average amounts received, by type of institution attended and institution state. For more information, go to: https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2021476.
  • June 2021: First Look report presents preliminary findings on the early impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on undergraduate student enrollment, housing, and finances from the 2019–20 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:20). For more information, go to: https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2021456.

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