In its final report, published in April 2015, the NASFAA Graduate and Professional Issues Caucus (GPIC), among other things, identified the lack of graduate-specific data as an issue of importance to the graduate/professional community and suggested establishing a task force "to identify data needs specific to graduate student financial aid." As a result, NASFAA in August 2015 formed a task force to examine this issue. Specifically, the task force was charged with identifying the data that is currently being collected and what new data the community would like to see collected in the future.
The task force determined there is "a dire need for better data to help accurately counsel and inform current and prospective students of graduate and professional programs." The seven recommendations below were put forward by task force in order to help improve available resources to help both financial aid offices in their work and students in their decision making:
- Enhance National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) reporting capabilities to provide graduate program-level data on indebtedness - utilizing Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes – and Cohort Default Rates (CDRs), as well as national-level data so students and financial aid administrators may draw comparisons between the levels.
- Create a Shopping Sheet with information specific to G/P students and G/P program-level data.
- Additional work should be done to streamline and add consistency to assignation of CIP codes.
- Additional consumer testing should be conducted to better understand and address the needs of prospective G/P students as they are applying for programs.
- NASFAA should work with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to organize training for the G/P community on how to utilize the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS).
- NPSAS Survey Directors should partner with financial aid administrators from G/P institutions to look for ways to link together student populations in similar program structures.
- NCES should increase the population of G/P students surveyed in NPSAS.