Several national data systems collect information on postsecondary students and institutions. These data systems have evolved over time, and are reflective of the changing nature of data use and policy priorities in the American postsecondary system.
These briefs describe the history and purpose of national data collections and highlight the evolution and features of each system. The national data collections are broader in scope than the voluntary data initiatives; most (if not all) postsecondary institutions submit data to these collections.
The National Student Clearinghouse
While participation in the National Student Clearinghouse is voluntary, this student-level data system is used by a vast majority of institutions of higher education.
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is one of the oldest, most comprehensive national datasets on institutions of higher education.
The National Student Loan Data System
The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) contains millions of records on student loan recipients, their enrollment, and the aid they received.