Common Data Set

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. Common Data Set items undergo broad review by the advisory board and data providers representing secondary schools and two- and four-year colleges.

The CDS is a set of standards and definitions of data items and 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 and disseminate the information by posting them on their websites.