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Expenses Survey FAQ

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Survey Administration

What is the 2022 Stanford Expenses Survey?

Stanford is launching a Student Expenses Survey on November 7, 2022. Stanford administers this survey regularly to better understand the costs associated with being a Stanford student. The survey is being administered by Institutional Research & Decision Support (IR&DS), and the results will be used by the Financial Aid Office and graduate and professional programs to estimate student expenses and help inform student budgets. Your participation is important so that our findings are as representative as possible of the Stanford student body, and your thoughtful and accurate responses are critical to this effort. 

Who is invited to take this survey?

All undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled in the Fall 2022 quarter are being invited to take the survey via a personalized link sent from IR&DS. If you are on leave this quarter, or not enrolled for another reason, you will not receive a survey link, but you are welcome to provide your perspective here. If you did not receive a survey link and think you should have, you can contact irds_surveys@stanford.edu.

Am I required to participate? What will happen if I don’t participate?

The survey is completely voluntary. You may answer as few or as many questions as you wish. Your participation is very important and greatly appreciated.

There will be no consequences to you personally if you choose not to complete the survey. Information on who completed the survey (and who did not) will not be shared with anyone.

Who designed this survey?

The survey was designed by the survey team in IR&DS in conjunction with the Financial Aid Office, with feedback from graduate program representatives, and undergraduate and graduate students. The survey was designed by the survey team in IR&DS in conjunction with the Financial Aid Office, graduate program representatives, and undergraduate and graduate students.

What is the timeline for this survey? When can I see the results of this study?

The survey will launch on Monday, November 7. Enrolled students will receive a survey invitation with an individualized survey link, as well as several survey reminders while the survey remains open. The survey will be open for approximately three weeks, and at the end of the survey window you will receive a notification with a final chance to complete the survey before it closes. The survey data will be analyzed over the Winter quarter, and a report on the findings will be released publicly in the Spring of 2023.

How will I get the survey? How do I access the survey?

You will receive an email with a personal survey link. This will be a unique link for you alone. Please do not share or forward this to others.

You may also receive several reminders containing your individualized link until you complete the survey or the survey closes. Clicking the survey link in your invitation email will take you to the first page of the survey.

What are the incentives to take the survey?

Thirty-six students will be selected from those who complete the survey to receive a $50 Amazon gift card.

What kinds of questions are in the survey?

The survey consists of several short sections which ask about personal expenses, as well as questions about financial pressures that many students experience. The survey also asks about student demographic characteristics such as racial/ethnic and gender identity. This survey is expected to take approximately 10-20 minutes to complete.

Do I have to answer all the questions? If I skip a question, can I go back to it later?

Participation in this survey is completely voluntary and you may skip any questions you do not wish to answer. If you skip a question, you can return to it later. However, once you submit the survey, you will not be able to return to the survey to revisit any questions.

If I close the browser will my answers be saved? Can I go back to the survey later to complete it?

Yes, if you close out the survey, it will save your progress and you can return to it any time during the survey administration window.

How long will the survey take if I participate?

The survey will take approximately 10-20 minutes to complete.

Student Privacy

Is this an anonymous survey?

This survey is confidential but not anonymous. Institutional records (such as your SUNet ID and enrollment status) are used to generate email invitations, which ensures that only eligible Stanford students are responding to this survey. Therefore the survey cannot be administered strictly anonymously.

What does “confidential but not anonymous” mean?

Recognizing that this survey asks you for sensitive personal information, the office of Institutional Research and Decision Support (IR&DS) takes several measures to protect your privacy. Institutional identifiers (such as your SUNet ID) are stripped from the survey data. Your survey data are processed by IR&DS staff with training in managing sensitive, confidential information. Nobody else will have unmediated access to your individual responses.

In particular:

  • Your supervisor or advisor will not have access to your individual responses.
  • Financial aid officers will not have access to your individual responses.
  • The Deans of your schools will not have access to your individual responses.

Only aggregated numerical statistics (as well as selected responses to open-ended questions - see below) will be shared outside of the IR&DS office. IR&DS will share aggregated statistics with stakeholders at Stanford University, and may share aggregated data with outside agencies such as accrediting bodies or other national organizations. 

Sometimes aggregated statistics for very small groups of respondents (for example, a minority population within a small School) could be used to identify individuals within the population. IR&DS will not report statistics in any way that would identify a study participant and we generally do not report data points when fewer than 10 respondents contributed to a particular survey item or finding.

IR&DS will not be reporting statistics aggregated at the department level to minimize the risks for re-identification of students.

Who will see my responses to the open-ended questions?

Selected responses to open-ended questions (free response text) will be used to review programs and may be read by staff and university leaders. Accordingly, please do not respond to these questions in a way that would identify you personally. That is, do not include specific details of your circumstances that a knowledgeable reader could use to identify you. Responses to open-ended questions will not be linked to other identifying information from the survey.

Will my answers be used to check if I have worked beyond what is allowed by my program/school?

No, no one will have access to your individual responses, nor will information about jobs, hours worked, or pay be made available to assess individual compliance with university policies.

Will my participation or survey responses affect my visa status?

No, your survey responses will not be shared in any way that might impact your visa status.

Why are you asking me about my race and ethnicity, my gender identity, and other personal information? 

The survey asks these questions to describe the sample of students who complete the survey, as well as how expenses and financial pressures may differ by self-reported identities.

Survey Findings

How will I know about the findings from this survey? Who will have access to survey findings?

We understand how critical transparency will be in sharing the results from a survey like this. In Spring 2023, IR&DS will publicly share a report on the survey findings with the Stanford community. All Stanford community members will have the opportunity to view the report on survey findings. However, in order to ensure participant privacy, individual-level data from the survey will not be made available, and no data from the survey will be made available for research or publication.

Additional Help

I still have questions.

If you have any additional questions or feedback regarding the survey, please email: irds_surveys@stanford.edu

If you want to provide anonymous feedback you can use this anonymous feedback form.

Accessibility / Technical questions

If you are having any accessibility or technical difficulties with the survey, please contact irds_surveys@stanford.edu