Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

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Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

Logo of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System


The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is the core postsecondary education data collection program for the National Center for Education Statistics, a part of the Institute for Education Sciences within the United States Department of Education. IPEDS consists of nine interrelated survey components that are collected over three collection periods (Fall, Winter, and Spring) each year. Data Collection and Dissemination Cycle The completion of all IPEDS surveys is mandatory for all institutions that participate in or are applicants for participation in any federal financial assistance program authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.[1] Statutory Requirements For Reporting IPEDS Data

The department was created in 1992 and began collecting data in 1993.

IPEDS Data Center[edit]

The Data Center allows users to retrieve IPEDS data, including the ability to retrieve data on a single institution, compare institutions on a single variable, view trends over time on a single variable, calculate descriptive statistics of an institution with or without a comparison institution, generate standard reports for an institution, download data files, and access the Data Analysis System and Executive Peer Tool and Data Feedback Report functions.[2]

State Data Center[edit]

The IPEDS State Data Center is designed to meet the needs of national and state legislative staff, policymakers, and others whose focus is on the states. It facilitates the use of existing IPEDS data in the context of a state audience perspective. The State Data Center is composed of three data retrieval tools: (1) the Custom Data Tables; (2) State Profiles; and (3) Pre-defined Reports.[3]

IPEDS Glossary[edit]

The IPEDS Glossary provides definitions for almost 500 postsecondary-related terms used in the collection and dissemination of IPEDS data.[4]

Data collected in IPEDS[5][edit]

IPEDS collects data on postsecondary education in the United States in seven areas: institutional characteristics, institutional prices, enrollment, student financial aid, degrees and certificates conferred, student persistence and success, and institutional human and fiscal resources.

Institutional characteristics[edit]

Institutional characteristics data are the foundation of the entire IPEDS system. These include basic institutional contact information, tuition and fees, room and board charges, control or affiliation, type of calendar system, levels of awards offered, types of programs, and admissions requirements.

Institutional prices[edit]

IPEDS collects institutional pricing data from institutions for first-time, full-time, degree- or certificate-seeking undergraduate students. This includes tuition and fee data as well as information on the estimated student budgets for students based on living situations (on-campus or off-campus).


Because enrollment patterns differ greatly among the various types of postsecondary institutions, there is a need for both different measures of enrollment and several indicators of access. In IPEDS, the following enrollment-related data are collected:

Student financial aid[edit]

IPEDS collects data on the number of full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students who receive different types of student financial aid, including grants and loans, from different sources at each institution. IPEDS also collects data to show the average dollar amount of aid received by these students. Finally, as a result of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, IPEDS collects data to calculate the average net price at each institution for the following two groups:

Degrees and certificates conferred (completions)[edit]

IPEDS collects data on the number of students who complete a postsecondary education program by type of program and level of award (certificate or degree). Type of program is categorized according to the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP), a detailed coding system for postsecondary instructional programs. These data provide information on the number and location of completers by field. Business and industry, the military, and other groups that need to recruit individuals with particular skills use these data extensively. The data also help satisfy the mandate in the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act for information on completions in postsecondary career and technical education programs.

Student persistence and success[edit]

IPEDS collects two types of data to help track postsecondary student progress and success.

Institutional resources[edit]

IPEDS collects institutional data on human resources and finances.

College Navigator[edit]

College Navigator is a "free consumer information tool designed to help students, parents, high school counselors, and others get information about over 7,000 postsecondary institutions in the United States - such as programs offered, retention and graduation rates, prices, aid available, degrees awarded, campus safety, and accreditation." Most of the data comes from IPEDS, although other data sources within the Department of Education are also used.[6] The website went live in September 2007 as a replacement for College Opportunities On-line (COOL) and was named in a December issue of Money magazine that year as "the best first screen" for researching colleges.[7]

IPEDS Peer Analysis System[edit]

The IPEDS Peer Analysis System (PAS) allows a user to build a comparison list of colleges and/or universities and compare them to a linchpin school. This data is downloadable into various formats. Information that can be retrieved in this manner include:

A similar tool called the Dataset Cutting Tool (DCT) is available on the same page as the PAS. Both tools allow for similar actions but they do so using different methods.

Controversy surrounding "Unit Record" data reporting[edit]

In March 2005 The US Department of Education released a study on the Feasibility of a Student Unit Record System Within the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. This Unit Record proposal met with immediate and vocal opposition from congressional leaders as well as colleges and universities. The US Department of Education argued that the development of a national student unit record tracking system, with appropriate privacy safeguards, which collects, analyzes and uses longitudinal student progression data was a vital tool for accountability and policy-making. This sparked an immediate reaction regarding the implications of what this means for Institutions of Higher Education.[8][9] Unit Record reporting, as originally conceived, would require institutions that report to IPEDS to upload not summary data but rather to upload files that contain individual student records. These files would contain a wide range of information on the student but would, most importantly, include the student's Social Security Number. Concerns were raised that attending even one course would mean you are added to a federal database for the rest of your life. In a report issued in March 2006 by the US Department of Education, Social Security Number was specifically excluded from the Unit Record upload data. It has been suggested that SSN will still be collected but it will be done so by a third-party before it is uploaded to the IPEDS Unit Record Database.

Huge IPEDS[edit]

In January 2007 it had become clear that Unit Record reporting was on the upswing. Some of the most vocal opposition was still coming from colleges/universities. It was at this time that the notion of "Huge IPEDS" was floated by Mark S. Schneider, the Education Department’s commissioner for education statistics. In a January 24, 2007, Federal Register notice, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced it is seeking comments on a set of proposed changes to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) for 2007-08 through 2009-10. The first installment of Huge IPEDS (optional in 07-08, mandatory in 08-09) would include:

References and notes[edit]


  1. "Report from Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education" (PDF). 2006-06-22. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  2. Lederman, Doug (2006-06-27). "A Stinging First Draft" (HTTP). Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  3. "Feasibility of a Student Unit Record System Within the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System" (HTTP). 2005-03-21. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  4. "A Test of Leadership, charting the future of U.S. Higher education" (PDF). 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  5. Lederman, Doug (2006-06-27). "A Test of Leadership, charting the future of U.S. Higher education" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  6. "Changes to IPEDS Data Collection, 2007-08" (HTTP). Retrieved 2007-02-21. 
  7. Lederman, Doug (2007-02-19). "Huge IPEDS Lives" (HTTP). Retrieved 2007-02-21. 


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  8. ^ "Report from Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education" (PDF). 2006-06-22. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  9. ^ Lederman, Doug (2006-06-27). "A Stinging First Draft" (HTTP). Retrieved 2007-02-08. 

External links[edit]

"College Opportunities Online Locator (COOL)" (HTTP). Retrieved 2007-02-08. 

"IPEDS Peer Analysis System (PAS)" (HTTP). Retrieved 2007-02-08.