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The Missing Manual: Using National Student Clearinghouse Data to Track Postsecondary Outcomes

Author

Listed:
  • Susan M. Dynarski
  • Steven W. Hemelt
  • Joshua M. Hyman

Abstract

This paper explores the promises and pitfalls of using National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) data to measure a variety of postsecondary outcomes. We first describe the history of the NSC, the basic structure of its data, and recent research interest in using NSC data. Second, using information from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we calculate enrollment coverage rates for NSC data over time, by state, institution type, and demographic student subgroups. We find that coverage is highest among public institutions and lowest (but growing) among for-profit colleges. Across students, enrollment coverage is lower for minorities but similar for males and females. We also explore two potentially less salient sources of non-coverage: suppressed student records due to privacy laws and matching errors due to typographic inaccuracies in student names. To illustrate how this collection of measurement errors may affect estimates of the levels and gaps in postsecondary attendance and persistence, we perform several case-study analyses using administrative transcript data from Michigan public colleges. We close with a discussion of practical issues for program evaluators using NSC data.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan M. Dynarski & Steven W. Hemelt & Joshua M. Hyman, 2013. "The Missing Manual: Using National Student Clearinghouse Data to Track Postsecondary Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 19552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19552
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19552.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Priceless: The Nonpecuniary Benefits of Schooling," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 159-184, Winter.
    2. Susan Dynarski & Joshua Hyman & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2013. "Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Childhood Investments on Postsecondary Attainment and Degree Completion," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(4), pages 692-717, September.
    3. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long & Philip Oreopoulos & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2009. "The Role of Simplification and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Thomas J. Kane, 2003. "A Quasi-Experimental Estimate of the Impact of Financial Aid on College-Going," NBER Working Papers 9703, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mezza, Alvaro A. & Sommer, Kamila, 2015. "A Trillion Dollar Question: What Predicts Student Loan Delinquencies?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2015-98, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Steven W. Hemelt & Kevin M. Stange, 2014. "Marginal Pricing and Student Investment in Higher Education," NBER Working Papers 20779, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jonathan Smith & Kevin Stange, 2016. "A New Measure of College Quality to Study the Effects of College Sector and Peers on Degree Attainment," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(4), pages 369-403, Fall.
    4. Goodman, Joshua & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan, 2015. "College Access, Initial College Choice and Degree Completion," Working Paper Series rwp14-030, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. Mezza, Alvaro A. & Ringo, Daniel R. & Sherlund, Shane M. & Sommer, Kamila, 2016. "Student Loans and Homeownership," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2016-10, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), revised 28 Jul 2017.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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