The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, also known as IPEDS, is the collection point for information gathered annually by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). IPEDS gathers information from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in federal student financial aid programs. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, requires institutions participating in federal student aid programs to report data on enrollments, program completions, graduation rates, faculty and staff, finances, institutional costs, and student financial aid. These data are made available to students and parents through the College Navigator college search website and to researchers and others through the IPEDS Data Center.
The Institutional Characteristics (IC) survey is used to determine which of the other IPEDS survey components an institution must complete, based on their degree programs and facilities. Data collected through this survey include the institution's identification, such as directory information, and its institutional characteristics. Institutional information includes areas such as control (public or private), award levels, calendar system, enrollment levels, etc. One section of the survey collects data on the institution's mission, student charges, alternative tuition plans, percentage of students with a disability, and athletic conference.
Enrollment taken early in the Fall semester is one of the most frequently used metrics when comparing or grouping traditional colleges and universities. At these institutions, a majority of students that will enroll for an academic year are enrolled in the fall. Fall Enrollment provides student counts by level, race/ethnicity, gender, age groupings, and geographic migration. Information about distance education is also collected in this survey. Retention rates are collected for first-time students, both full-time and part-time. It is important to remember that for enrollment, only credit activity is counted. Students taking only non-credit courses are not counted in enrollment.
12-Month Enrollment is an unduplicated headcount of all students enrolled at an institution during the 12 month reporting period from July 1st to June 30th. Any student that has attended any class at any time is counted one time, regardless of whether they attended classes on a full-time or part-time basis. 12-Month Enrollment provides student counts by race/ethnicity, gender, and level.
This survey also collects information on the total number of credit or contact hours taken by students within the 12 month reporting period. These data are collected at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional practice doctoral (formerly known as first professional) levels. The results are used by NCES to calculate a full-time equivalent enrollment (FTE) for all enrollment, allowing for a prorated count of part-time students according to the number of credit hours taken.
The Completions survey collects two main types of metrics: number of degrees awarded, and number of students who earned a degree or certificate. These counts can differ because a student may earn more than one degree or certificate within the reported time period. Information is collected by gender, race/ethnicity, and broad subject area.
The Graduation Rates survey collects information about students graduating within 150% of the time period considered normal for a traditional degree program. For four-year degrees, this means completing within six years. Institutions may also report transfer-out students. Information is collected by gender and race/ethnicity.
The Graduation Rates 200 (GR200) survey extends this time period by two additional years, looking at completion rates by 200% of the time period considered normal for a traditional degree program. For four-year degrees, this means completing within eight years. GR200 information is collected at the overall, total level; it does not provide detail by race/ethnicity or gender.
The Outcome Measures survey seeks to track retention, persistence, and graduation information for a broader group than those covered by the Graduation Rate survey. This survey's population includes all new degree-seeking and certificate-seeking cohorts, regardless of whether they entered as new freshmen or transfer students. The starting cohort is also based on a larger time period than just the Fall semester. Information is collected at the overall, total level; it does not provide detail by race/ethnicity or gender.
Academic reporting institutions report on fall cohorts. To ensure that outcome measures are collected for every type of student, data are collected for four cohorts: full-time first-time students, part-time first-time students, full-time non-first-time entering students and part-time non-first-time entering students.
The outcomes are reported eight years after the cohorts entered the institution and indicate which of four potential groups the students fall into: those who completed a degree, those who were still enrolled at the reporting institution, those who subsequently enrolled at another institution, and those whose subsequent enrollment status is unknown.
The Admissions survey collects data about an institution's admissions policies and criteria, such as whether the institution considers an applicant's GPA or test scores. It also provides information about the selection process: number of applicants, number of admissions, and number of those admitted who subsequently enrolled (full-time or part-time). The Admissions survey also collects the number and percentage of prospective students that provided the test scores, as wells as the 25th and 75th precentile scores on each subtest.
The Student Financial Aid survey collects data on the number of undergraduates awarded aid and average amounts awarded, by type of aid. It also collects information about military service members and veterans benefits, including the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance program and the Veterans Affairs Post-9/11 GI Bill for undergraduate and graduate students. Institutions can also use this survey to make edits to their prior years' cost of attendance. These data are used by NCES to calculate the net price of attendance, which is in turn used in the Department of Education's College Affordability and Transparency Center data.
The Human Resources survey collects data on the number and salaries of full-time non-medical instructional staff; the number of full-time instructional staff by academic rank, faculty and tenure status; the number and salary outlays of full-time non-medical non-instructional staff by occupational category; the number of full- and part-time medical and non-medical staff by occupational category, faculty and tenure status; the number of full- and part-time staff by occupational category; and the number of new hires by occupational category. Some of these data are also collected by race/ethnicity and gender in alternate years.
The Finance survey collects data on institutional revenues and expenses. Different forms of the survey are used based on the institution's accounting standards.
Only public institutions that use the public Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) accounting standards must report scholarship and fellowship data. Endowments and plant, property and equipment data are also required for GASB reporters. All institutions are required to report on assets and liabilities.
The first year the Academic Libraries survey was administed was 2014-15. Prior to that time, library data were collected biannually using a different survey instrument; participation was not mandatory.
The Academic Libraries component of IPEDS is now a mandatory annual data collection for all degree-granting institutions with library expenditures greater than zero. The data include information on library collections, both physical or digital, and circulation. All degree-granting institutions with library expenditures greater than $100,000 must also report the number of branch and independent libraries, expenditures, interlibrary loans, and virtual reference services.