Common Data Set Initiative

Newsworthy Items

To download the 2019-2020 Common Data Set in Word (RTF), Excel (XLS), Adobe Acrobat (PDF), and HTML formats, click here or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Please post your questions or concerns about the Common Data Set to the CDS list serve.

The Common Data Set (CDS) initiative is a collaborative effort among data providers in the higher education community and publishers as represented by the College Board, Peterson's, and U.S. News & World Report. The combined goal of this collaboration is to improve the quality and accuracy of information provided to all involved in a student's transition into higher education, as well as to reduce the reporting burden on data providers.

This goal is attained by the development of clear, standard data items and definitions in order to determine a specific cohort relevant to each item. Data items and definitions used by the U.S. Department of Education in its higher education surveys often serve as a guide in the continued development of the CDS. Common Data Set items undergo broad review by the CDS Advisory Board as well as by data providers representing secondary schools and two- and four-year colleges. Feedback from those who utilize the CDS also is considered throughout the annual review process.

The CDS is a set of standards and definitions of data items rather than a survey instrument or set of data represented in a database. Each of the higher education surveys conducted by the participating publishers incorporates items from the CDS as well as unique items proprietary to each publisher. Consequently, the publishers' surveys differ in that they utilize varying numbers of items from the CDS.

Those who report data for their colleges are urged to abide by the definitions and the cohorts specified when answering CDS items. They are also urged to use the answers to CDS items when responding to the numerous survey requests they receive, by distributing photocopies of their answers, posting them on their web sites, or by other effective means.

The CDS publishers encourage you to join the CDS list serve hosted by the College Board. Participating in the list serve provides you the opportunity to be an active part of the CDS initiative and to keep up with discussion of the CDS. Click here to read current messages and post your own messages. Click here to subscribe to listserve and receive email updates.

Contact the CDS Team by e-mail

The 2019-2020 Common Data Set is available in Word (RTF), Excel (XLS), Adobe Acrobat (PDF), and HTML format.

Click here to see how your school's data is used by the CDS Publishers.

Last updated 11/01/2019