for Admissions, Financial Aid, Registrar Offices​​

PESC APPROVED STANDARDS are available openly and free of charge for education and workforce, health and medical, military and government, and all teaching and learning communities - the cornerstone principle of PESC, PESC's Mission and PESC's Membership.

PESC APPROVED STANDARDS are Workgroup developed, proposed, approved, ratified and maintained through an open, transparent, rigorous, community-based, collaborative process, which includes a public notification when development initiates and a formal 30-day public comment period before approval, all governed by PESC Members.  

PESC APPROVED STANDARDS are platform and application neutral; used, implemented, adopted and integrated in systems, networks, products and services applications; are hub and spoke and web services friendly; support a transaction or business process;​ and, can be implemented or used one independently from another.​​​​​

PESC APPROVED STANDARD (e.g. the College Transcript Standard) is made available in several different technologies (e.g. EDI, JSON, PDF, XML), providing more technical choice for users. 

The EDI, JSON, PDF and XML data modeling guidelines and specifications, definitions and business processes are aligned and governed under PESC's Standards Development Forum for Education.  This alignment instills trust between different technologies, enables reliable data mapping across different technologies, and ensures data quality and integrity across different technologies.​​

the PESC Website and PESC Work Products 
in which you do not mention or
provide attribution to PESC:

use, access and downloading of 
are provided openly and free of charge.

You can also develop
derivative products and services from
and you are responsible for any use of 


​​​​​Created in 1998, eXtensible Markup Language or XML, a specification used in software to define the content of an electronic document, has become widely used in business-to-business transactions. Whether sending data over the web or between applications, XML can be used to transmit both text and the meaning of that text. 

XML quickly became popular as by this time programming was no longer bound by file size restrictions.  With XML being more easily programmable and more verbose (human readable), PESC launched a study group to analyze and recommend to the PESC Board of Directors what steps PESC should take with regard to XML.

In response, the Board Response to the XML White Paper recommended the establishment of a permanent group to address XML development.  On August 4, 2002, PESC launched the Standards Forum for the Education Community.


  • XML schema that outline data file design & record structure
  • Implementation Guides that explain & describe adoption, integration & use
  • Instance Documents that display examples based on sample data​ (This mandate is a recent requirement and may not be included in some.)

Dependent on when developed and released, each are based on specific versions of:

  • Academic Record Sector
  • Core Main Components
  • PESC's XML Technical Specification​​

The Academic Record is an XML schema that contains a dictionary of element type definitions that can be used to construct and validate XML messages. The library contains element types that are specific to information about a student's academic experience and accomplishments.  

Core Main is also an XML schema that contains a dictionary of common element type definitions that can be used to construct and validate XML messages.

​The PESC XML Technical Specification outlines PESC XML Schema Structure, development methodology and design rules.


In the early 1990's the Standardization of Postsecondary Electronic Education Data Exchange (SPEEDE) Committee of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education worked together to develop the first electronic standards in higher education for processing transcripts, which was developed in an existing technology called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

With the successful launch and implementation of an EDI transcript standard, other data exchange processes were developed in EDI as well, including admissions and test score reporting.  Note;  While use of EDI grew and continues to be implemented in the registrar and admissions communities, for a number of reasons including programming complexities, the financial aid community did not adopt and implement EDI but works now in XML.

The EDI standards were originally developed under the requirements of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the most current version of the EDI suite of transactions is version 4, published in April 1998 and based on X12 Version Release 4010.  These standards, however, are no longer maintained under ANSI as the community has agreed to work under PESC as education's standards-setting body, thereby  making ANSI's role obsolete.  PESC's Education Record User Group, established in 2008 to govern the development and support of all admissions and registrars standards, now also governs all EDI standards and all EDI standards are now considered PESC Approved Standards.

Around 2000, admissions, financial aid, and registrar communities also began developing standards in a new technology called eXtensible Markup Language (XML) under PESC.  The launch and use of XML does not mean that use of EDI is obsolete.  In choosing which technology to use EDI or XML, organizations must determine the capabilities of the organization with which they exchange data and perform a number of analyses including cost benefit and strategic.

Note:  The Statistical Networking Applications Project (SNAP) has published a comprehensive implemetation guide for data exchange between and among PK-12 schools/districts and colleges and universities. These two editions are fully compatible.While PESC has adopted certain EDI standards as PESC APPROVED STANDARDS and hosts corresponding EDI Implementation Guides, users must obtain the EDI standards from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  For more information, please see the 
Introduction & Overview of SPEEDE/ExPRESS.

Terms & Conditions of PESC Membership 

& Use of PESC Intellectual Property (IP) 

Intellectual Property (IP) Policy 

& User Agreement

What is a voluntary consensus standard?

For some, voluntary consensus standard (also called Non-Government Standard) is a statutory or regulatory obligation.  For others, the term ‘voluntary’ creates a perception of a wide-open, unstandardized market in which closed, proprietary applications and/or services reign; and access and control of data, serve as the value propositions to attract customers and clients.

The most important concepts to understand about voluntary consensus standards:

- Voluntary consensus standards refer to data to be exchanged, shared, reported, sold and/or licensed between at least two separate and independent parties.

- While the value of voluntary consensus standards lies in the open, transparent, neutral and balanced process in place in the user community to participate (equally), develop, produce and maintain a standard, the value proposition is based in costs-savings, return on investment, improved data quality and efficiencies gained in overall data management and service delivery.

- Federal rules and regulations clearly articulate the roles and responsibilities for all Federal agencies with regard to voluntary consensus standards and Government-Unique Standards, including annual reporting to the Department of Commerce.

- Voluntary consensus standards are governed by standards-setting bodies that operate on a voluntary consensus-based model.

- A voluntary consensus standard can be mandated or required by an authoritative entity and emerges as a best practice model.

- A Government-Unique or proprietary standard can become a voluntary consensus standard.

The U.S. General Accounting Office describes voluntary consensus standard in a summary of the 1995 National Technology Transfer and Advancement ACT (NTTAA) of

“Government standards are developed by individual federal agencies for their own use. Although unique government standards sometimes are appropriate, such as standards for certain specialized military equipment, in other cases, a voluntary standard would suffice. This creates duplication for industry, which may have to provide two lines of production to meet both government and private needs and can put U.S. companies at a disadvantage in international trade.”

The major challenge for standards-development bodies and standards-setting bodes, like PESC, is maintaining a trusted, open, transparent, neutral, balanced and free voluntary consensus standard that in essence “levels the playing field,” while simultaneously promoting innovation in a market that may perceive the voluntary consensus standard as merely anti-competitive or optional compared to other technical standards.

From a Federal Agency perspective, there may be a lack of confidence in the utility, timeliness and sustainability of a voluntary standard and inconsistent guidance in existing statute, rules and regulations.


​A voluntary, consensus-based approach to data standards development, approval & maintenance is the most successful method.  A groundbreaking report from the Delphi Group in 2003, from which PESC based most of its strategy and operations, highlights the value of standards and key factors on community views and perceptions of standards bodies.

Electronic Transcript Exchange:  Benefits and Experiences of Early Postsecondary Adopters
Eduventures, October 2012

Value of Standards
Delphi Group, 2003

Value of Standards in Indiana & MHEC
Indiana Commission for Higher Education

Andrew Updegrove

A Business Case for the Electronic Exchange of Student Records
SPEEDE/ExPRESS, April 1997






for Admissions, Financial Aid, Registrar Offices

>> Admissions Application

>> College Transcript

>> Course Inventory (Catalog)

>> Credential and Experiential Learning

>> ePortfolio

>> Financial Aid

>> High School Transcript

>> PDF Attachment

>> Test Score

>> EDI


This page includes all PESC Approved Standards - on one page.




v1.0     v1.1

v1.2     v1.3

v1.4     v1.5

v1.6     v1.7

v1.8     v1.9

v1.10     v1.11

v1.12     v1.13

v1.14     v1.15

v1.16     v1.17

v1.18     v1.19



v1.0     v1.1

v1.2     v1.3

v1.4     v1.5

v1.6     v1.7

v1.8     v1.9

v1.10     1.11



eXtensible Markup Language. All XML standards are listed below.  XML, an offshoot of Standard Generalized Markup Language or SGML, is a programming language created in 1998.  PESC Approved Standards in XML, governed & maintained by PESC, are comprised of:  XML schema, Implementation Guide, Instance Documentation.  Dependent on when developed & released, each is based on a specific version of:  the Academic Record Sector, Core Main Components, & PESC's XML Technical Specification.

PDF - Portable Document Formatis a technology enabling the exchange of digital documents and data.  The PESC Approved PDF Standard version 1.0 released February 7, 2007 supports the traditional exchange of PDF documents and enables the actual data to be included in the exchange as well.

​​​​​​​​​​​PESC Approved Standards

Documentation & Downloads

JSON - Java Script Object Notation.​ PESC Compliant JSON v 1 released March 8, 2019.​​

Announcement: March 08, 2019 Release as PESC Approved Standard.

PESC Compliant JSON v 1.0


PESC Approved Standards | Trusted, Free & Open Since 1997 | Admissions, Financial Aid, Registrar | www.pesc.org
PESC Celebrates Its 25th Year Anniversary in 2022, having been founded in 1997 at the National Center for Higher Education in Washington, D.C.
PESC October 2022 Data Summit - October 26-28, 2022 - Hyatt Regency Vancouver - Register Today!

​​​​​EDI or Electronic Data Interchange.  All EDI Standards are listed below.  First introduced in 1968, EDI is a technology for exchanging organized or structured data, using agreed upon protocols and standards from one computer system to another without human intervention. While PESC has adopted certain EDI standards as PESC Approved Standards and hosts all corresponding EDI Implementation Guides, users must obtain the EDI standards from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  For more information, please see the Introduction and Overview of SPEEDE/ExPRESS. 

PESC - HOME - Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council | Data Standards, Digital Data and Records Exchange, XML, JSON, JSON-LD, Electronic Data Interchange EDI, Voluntary Consensus Standards, Education's Standards-Setting Body, PK20W Education Standards Council, PESC Approved Standards and PESC Approved Services

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