PEDAR: Research Methodology Study of college costs and prices, 1988-89 to 1997-98
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
Institutional Prices and Student Aid Survey
Accuracy of Estimates
Statistical Procedures
Differences in Means
Executive Summary
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is a comprehensive database that encompasses all identified institutions whose primary purpose is to provide postsecondary education. IPEDS consists of institutional-level data that can be used to describe trends in higher education at the institutional, state, and/or national levels.

Postsecondary education is defined within IPEDS as the provision of formal instructional programs whose curriculum is designed primarily for students who have completed the requirements for a high school diploma or its equivalent. This includes academic, vocational, and continuing professional education programs, and excludes avocational and adult basic education programs.

IPEDS includes information about baccalaureate or higher degree-granting institutions, 2-year award institutions, and less-than-2-year institutions (i.e. institutions whose awards usually result in terminal occupational awards or are creditable toward a formal 2-year or higher award). Each of these three categories is further disaggregated by control (public; private not-for-profit; and private for-profit), resulting in nine institutional categories or sectors.

Specialized, but compatible, reporting formats have been developed for these nine sectors of postsecondary education providers. In general, the surveys/reports developed for postsecondary institutions granting baccalaureate and higher degrees are the most extensive; forms for the 2-year and less-than-2-year awards granting sectors request less data. This design feature accommodates the varied operating characteristics, program offerings, and reporting capabilities that differentiate postsecondary institutional sectors while yielding comparable statistics for all sectors.

Data are collected from approximately 11,000 postsecondary institutions. IPEDS has been designed to produce national-, state-, and institutional-level data for most postsecondary institutions. However, prior to 1993, only national-level estimates from a sample of institutions were available for the private, less-than-2-year institutions.

Until recently, data in IPEDS were organized into several survey areas.1 For this report, the most important surveys include the following:

  • Institutional Characteristics
    Including institutional names and addresses; congressional districts; counties; telephone numbers; tuition; control or affiliation; calendar systems; levels of degrees and awards offered; types of programs; and accreditation for all postsecondary education institutions in the United States and outlying territories.

  • Fall Enrollment
    Including information about full- and part-time enrollment by racial/ethnic category and sex for undergraduates, first-professional, and graduate students. Age distributions by level of enrollment and sex were collected in odd-numbered years, and first-time degree-seeking student enrollments by residence status were collected in even-numbered years.

  • Financial Statistics
    Including each institution’s current fund revenues by source (e.g., tuition and fees, government, gifts); current fund expenditures by function (e.g., instruction, research); assets and indebtedness; and endowment investments.

  • Salaries, Tenure, and Fringe Benefits of Full-time Instructional Faculty
    Including information about full-time instructional faculty by gender and tenure status, and outlays for salaries and fringe benefits.

Other components of IPEDS provided data on fall staff, degrees and certificates awarded, and library resources. Detailed information about IPEDS is available at the National Center for Education Statistics website.

At the time this report was written, Finance survey data for 1996–97 and 1997–98 were available only for public institutions and did not include imputations. Finance data were available only until 1995–96 for private not-for-profit institutions. This was due to the changes in the IPEDS Finance survey incorporated in Fiscal Year 1997 as a result of the changes in Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) guidelines for private not-for-profit institutions.

Also, some of the data from the Salaries, Tenure, and Fringe Benefits of Full-time Instructional Faculty survey are suppressed in the public use data files for reasons of confidentiality. For this report, the restricted data files were used. Because a restricted file was unavailable for 1989–90, suppressed data fields were estimated through interpolation from data for subsequent years.

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