What is the Common Data Set?

2 little kids researching the common data set

What does it mean?

The Common Data Set refers to data collected by a group of publishers including US News Best College Rankings, The College Board, Petersons, and Wintergreen Orchard. The data includes information that is not part of government data including percentage of students receiving merit aid and the percentage of students that have financial need met. Approximately half of all colleges post their Common Data Set information on their websites for public viewing.

How does it affect how much you pay for college?

Families can use information from the Common Data Set to target colleges most likely to meet their financial situation. If students have low EFCs, they should target colleges most likely to meet need. For those with high EFCs, they should look for schools providing generous merit aid.
 
The Common Data Set also breaks down test scores and GPA by categories for freshmen. This can give families a better idea of how the students rank academically among admitted freshmen. You can also look the up the number of students admitted early decision to see if there is any advantage. 

Where can you learn more?

What is the Common Data Set?
 
How U.S. News Collects Best Colleges Rankings Data

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