The National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS) 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 six times since its inception in 1986. The most recent cycles of the NPSAS were in 2000 and 2004. It provides a nationally-representative stratified random sample of undergraduate, graduate and first-professional students attending postsecondary institutions. The survey aims to understand how students and their families finance education and to assess certain characteristics of students enrolled in postsecondary education.
For the first time in NPSAS's history, the 2003-2004 survey obtained larger samples for twelve states to provide data for state-level analysis of postsecondary students' characteristics. The twelve oversampled states, selected due to their interest and involvement, are grouped according to their population size: small states (Connecticut, Delaware, Nebraska and Oregon), medium states (Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota and Tennessee) and large states (California, Illinois, New York and Texas). In the future, NCES hopes to expand the survey to provide state-level data for all 50 states in the three major institutional sectors: public two-year, public four-year and private not-for-profit four-year.
The NPSAS data is available to the public through the Data Analysis System (DAS), a software application that creates tables and correlation matrices directly from the various NCES surveys. The DAS can be accessed online at the NCES web site. The user-friendly format allows for easy retrieval of useful statistics on student borrowing and demographics at both the national- and state-levels. The web site offers a help section as well as online tutorials.