The Common Data Set (CDS) is a set of standard data and definitions created through the collaborative effort of data providers in the higher education community and survey publishers, such as 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 has been attained by the development of clear, standard data items and definitions and determination of specific cohorts relevant to each item. Data items and definitions used by the U.S. Department of Education in its higher education surveys often serve as a guide in the continued development of the CDS. Common Data Set items undergo broad review by the CDS Advisory Board as well as by data providers representing secondary schools and two- and four-year colleges. Feedback from those who utilize the CDS is also considered throughout the annual review process.