In 2020, The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) provided funding to the Commonwealth Prevention Alliance (CPA) for a preliminary survey assessment of higher education institutions in Pennsylvania to begin to collect data about current alcohol-related issues on campus and efforts to mitigate the negative effects of student alcohol use.

The stated purpose of this initial study was to collaborate with Pennsylvania Colleges and Universities to open a discussion around college drinking on commonwealth campuses.


Alcohol use by college students is prevalent and well documented. In 2019, The National Survey of Drug Use and Health found that:

  • 52.5% of full-time college students between the ages of 18 and 22 consumed alcohol in the past month while 44.0% of non-students in the same age cohort reported such use.
  • The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) also found that 33.0% of college students reported at least one episode of binge drinking during the past month.

Research has documented a number of alcohol-related consequences among college students including:

  • Unintentional injuries, assaults, and sexual assault or date rape.
  • About one in four college students report experiencing academic difficulties from drinking, such as missing class or getting behind in schoolwork.


The assessment was conducted during the Summer and Fall of 2020. CPA convened an advisory team to provide guidance and oversight for the project that included representation from the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, and the state’s colleges and universities. Working with an independent consultant, the advisory team developed an online survey and a series of focus groups, facilitated in November and December 2020, that were used to gather information about student alcohol use, current programs to address alcohol use on campus, and other alcohol-related issues encountered by the state’s higher education institutions.