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Home > Research, Data & Reports > Financial Aid Data & Trends > Financial Aid at a Glance > National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey Data > The National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS)


The National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS)


The National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS) aims to understand how students and their families finance education and to assess certain characteristics of students enrolled in postsecondary education.

The survey is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education. Mandated by the Higher Education Act (HEA), the NPSAS has been conducted eight times since its inception in 1986. The most recent cycles of the NPSAS were in 2008 and 2012. It provides a nationally-representative stratified random sample of undergraduate, graduate and first-professional students attending postsecondary institutions.

The 2003-2004 and 207-2008 cycles of the survey obtained larger samples for six to twelve states to provide data for state-level analysis of postsecondary students' characteristics. The oversampled states in 2007-2008 were California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New York and Texas.

The NPSAS data is available to the public through the DataLab, an application that creates tables directly from the various NCES surveys. DataLab allows for retrieval of statistics on grants, loans, work-study earnings and demographics.