Below are links to websites that contain a variety of commonly accessed data related to higher education and data that help to provide a comprehensive context for state higher education policymaking and analysis. Also provided are links to data that are correlated with education and can often serve to strengthen the conversation about the need to increase educational attainment in our society and the potential policies for doing so. These data sources are reliable and contain much of the data and information that we use in our work to assist states and institutions in their efforts to improve higher education policies. The list is not exhaustive and will continue to expand throughout the life of the website.
1. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) maintains several web-based publications that contain a variety of data and information regarding enrollment, completions, faculty and staff, and finance for elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education. Below are links to several of the most commonly used resources.
2. The Educational Needs Index (ENI) is a county-level study of educational, economic, and population pressures that influence educational policy and planning at local, regional, and state levels. The index introduces an econometric model that assesses conditions and trends for all 3,140 U.S. counties or their equivalents and allows peer comparisons across a variety of indicators. The ENI offers a fresh opportunity and innovative approach to better understand the existing data and public policy challenges that face all states and their respective counties.
3. The National Science Foundation (NSF) provides state- and institution-level data on research and development expenditures (by source and academic discipline) and a variety of indicators of performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. These can be accesses at:
4. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). OECD provides a variety of comparative indicators for the U.S. and other countries. Included are measures for educational attainment, enrollment and participation rates in postsecondary education, secondary and postsecondary graduation rates, the economic returns for an education, expenditures per student, and more. These are available in a publication entitled Education at a Glance (linked below).
5. Postsecondary Opportunity. Tom Mortenson, Author of Postsecondary Opportunity, provides a wealth of data and information on the conditions that influence postsecondary education opportunities in the U.S. Spreadsheets are available that contain historical data on financial aid, college participation and completion, and more (focusing where possible on low-income and minority students). For a small subscription fee, monthly publications are provided.
6. National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP). NASSGAP publishes the results of an annual state survey on state-sponsored student financial aid programs. It includes data and information on state expenditures for need and non-need based state financial aid programs.
7. State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO). SHEEO produces a variety of publications targeted to state higher education agencies and policymakers – areas including (but not limited to) higher education assessment, accountability, and finance. Their annual State Higher Education Finance Survey (SHEF) yields the most comprehensive data and information on state higher education finance. The data from these surveys are also available in the finance section of this website (accessible from the left-hand navigation). Below are links to their publications and SHEF report.
8. Measuring Up: The State-by-State Report Card for Higher Education. Biennially since 2000, The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education has published Measuring Up which provides data (and grades) for states in the areas of college preparation, participation, affordability, completion and how well states benefit from their higher education enterprise. The report card can be accessed at:
9. The Education Trust. Ed Trust produces a variety of publications and reports on important issues facing higher education. They also provide “college results online” – a web site that allows users to compare graduation rates among all of the four-year higher education institutions in the U.S. and how well students of certain race/ethnic groups are succeeding at these institutions.
10. Regional Higher Education Compacts. There are four regional higher education compacts that serve – in part – to provide higher education data and information to the participating states in their regions. These organizations can be accessed below.
Demographic, Economic, and Social Statistics
1. The U.S. Census Bureau maintains a wealth of state- and county-level data on the size and characteristics of populations, educational attainment, income and poverty, and employment in certain types of occupations and industries (and more). The two primary sources are the decennial census and the American Community Survey. Detailed data tables can be accessed and downloaded at:
2. The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains a variety of data related to workforce participation and employment. Included are state- and county-level data for employment and wages by occupation and industry, workforce participation, and unemployment rates. Data tables can be accessed fairly easily from the home page (linked below).
3. The Bureau of Economic Analysis houses state- and county-level data on personal income per capita, income by industry type, and gross state product. These data can be accessed and downloaded at:
4. In addition to the most common national repositories of data (above), the 50 states have State Data Centers (SDCs) which serve as official sources of demographic, economic, and social statistics produced by the Census Bureau. Many of the SDCs provide additional data and information such as population projections by age and race/ethnicity – which are used a great deal in state and local planning activities. The SDCs make these data accessible at no charge or on a cost-recovery or reimbursable basis as appropriate. The State Data Centers (for all states) can be accessed at:
The two websites linked below contain a variety of indicators that gauge the strength of states’ economies and their competitiveness with respect to the presence of high tech and knowledge-based industries and employment.
Health and Wellbeing
1. The National Center for Health Statistics maintains state-level data for a variety of indicators – such as birthrates, death rates, causes of death, and behaviors associated with the health of state residents (e.g. nutrition and tobacco use). These data can be accessed at:
2. The United Health Foundation also provides state-level data related to health and healthcare. These data are released annually as part of America’s Health Rankings – an index comprised of statistical measures for health and well-being, violent crime, and the availability of healthcare and related services. The overall state rankings and the individual measures are located at:
3. Much of the county-level data for health and healthcare are housed in State and Local Departments of Health. All states (and some localities) have Departments of Health that provide state and county-level data on the incidences and causes of death, behaviors associated with health, the availability of healthcare and related services, and more. The State Departments of Health can be accessed at:
4. Kids Count: Health and Well-Being of America’s Children
Crime and Corrections
1. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics maintains state-level statistics for incidences of crimes and victimizations, law enforcement, courts and sentencing, and corrections. These data can be accessed at:
2. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports contain a wealth of data for violent crime, property crime, and other offenses – at the state- and county-levels. These data are available at: