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Glossary

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

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Term Definition Related terms
Imputation A method of estimating data for an entity that did not respond to a data item or survey.
Imputation flag An indicator on a data file that shows whether or not the data was imputed for a specific variable.
In-district student A student who is a legal resident of the locality in which he/she attends school and thus is entitled to reduced tuition charges if offered by the institution.
In-district tuition The tuition charged by the institution to those students residing in the locality in which they attend school. This may be a lower rate than in-state tuition if offered by the institution.
In-state student A student who is a legal resident of the state in which he/she attends school.
In-state tuition The tuition charged by institutions to those students who meet the state's or institution's residency requirements.
Income tax Domestic and foreign federal (national), state, and local (including franchise) taxes based on income.
Indebtedness on capital assets Liabilities associated with the debt incurred in financing the institution's capital assets, including bonds, mortgages, notes, capital leases, and any other outstanding debt that was incurred to acquire, construct, or improve capital assets. Indebtedness issued and backed by the state government and that will be repaid by the state from sources other than institutional funds is excluded.
Independent operations Expenses associated with operations that are independent of or unrelated to the primary missions of the institution (i.e., instruction, research, public service) although they may contribute indirectly to the enhancement of these programs. This category is generally limited to expenses of a major federally funded research and development center. Also includes information technology expenses, actual or allocated costs for operation and maintenance of plant, interest and depreciation related to the independent operations. Expenses of operations owned and managed as investments of the institution's endowment funds are excluded.
Independent operations (revenues) Revenues associated with operations independent of or unrelated to the primary missions of the institution (i.e., instruction, research, public service) although they may contribute indirectly to the enhancement of these programs. Generally includes only those revenues associated with major federally funded research and development centers. Net profit (or loss) from operations owned and managed as investments of the institution's endowment funds is excluded.
Infrastructure Capital assets consisting of roads, bridges, drainage systems, water and sewer systems, and other similar assets. Infrastructure assets usually have longer useful lives than other capital assets such as buildings.
Initial cohort A specific group of individuals established for tracking purposes. For the Graduation Rates component of IPEDS, the initial cohort is defined as all students who enter an institution as full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking students during either (1) the fall term of a given academic year, or (2) between September 1st and August 31st of the following year. Revised cohort
Institution of higher education A term formerly used in IPEDS and HEGIS to define an institution that was accredited at the college level by an agency or association recognized by the Secretary, U.S. Department of Education. These schools offered at least a one-year program of study creditable toward a degree and they were eligible for participation in Title IV Federal financial aid programs.
Institution size category This indicator is derived based on the institution's total students enrolled for credit.
Institution's staff (not in medical schools) Term used to describe all staff employed by or employees working in a postsecondary institution, except those employed by or working in the medical school component of the institution. Includes staff employed by or employees working in the postsecondary component of a hospital or medical center that offers postsecondary education as one of its primary missions; also includes those working in first-professional schools (e.g., law schools, dental schools, schools optometry) except medical schools.
Institutional account An account in which the institution maintains fiscal control of revenues or expenditures and has full knowledge of the amounts flowing through the account.
Institutional affiliation A classification that indicates whether a private not-for-profit institution is associated with a religious group or denomination. Private not-for-profit institutions may be either independent or religiously affiliated. Control (of institution)
Institutional burden The estimated amount of time(and money) required to respond to a survey. According to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, no persons are required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a valid OMB control number. The valid OMB control number for IPEDS is 1850-0582. The time required to complete the Fall information collection is estimated to vary from 1.5 hours to 3.8 hours per response, with an average of 3.2 hours, including the time to review instructions, search existing data resources, gather and maintain the data needed, and complete and review the information collection. Similarly, the time required to complete the Winter information collection is estimated to vary from 3.5 hours to 15.5 hours, with an average of 12.1 hours; and the time required to complete the Spring information collection is estimated to vary from 8.0 hours to 18.5 hours, with an average of 12.1 hours.
Institutional category This indicator is derived using the level of offerings reported on the Institutional Characteristics (IC) component and the number and level of awards reported on the Completions (C) component.
Institutional Characteristics (IC) This annual component is the core of the IPEDS system is and is required of all currently operating Title IV postsecondary institutions in the United States and other areas. As the control file for the entire IPEDS system, IC constitutes the sampling frame for all other NCES surveys of postsecondary institutions. It also helps determine the specific IPEDS screens that are shown to each institution. This component collects the basic institutional data that are necessary to sort and analyze not only the IC DATA, but also all other IPEDS DATAs. IC data are collected for the academic year, which generally extends from September of one calendar year to June of the following year. Specific data elements currently collected for each institution include: institution name, address, telephone number, control or affiliation, calendar system, levels of degrees and awards offered, types of programs, application information, student services, and accreditation. The IC component also collects pricing information including tuition and required fees, room and board charges, books and supplies and other expenses for release on College Navigator.
Institutional grants Scholarships and fellowships granted and funded by the institution and/or individual departments within the institution, (i.e., instruction, research, public service) that may contribute indirectly to the enhancement of these programs . Includes scholarships targeted to certain individuals (e.g., based on state of residence, major field of study, athletic team participation) for which the institution designates the recipient.
Institutional grants (funded) (allowances) Scholarships and fellowships awarded to students from institutional resources that are restricted to student aid. Private institutions generally report these grants as allowances. If control over these resources passes to the student, the amount is reported as an expense. (Used for reporting under FASB Standards.)
Institutional grants (unfunded) (allowances) Scholarships and fellowships awarded to students from unrestricted institutional resources. Private institutions generally report these grants as allowances. If control over these resources passes to the student, the amount is reported as an expense. (Used for reporting under FASB Standards.)
Institutional grants from restricted resources Institutional grants to students funded from restricted-expendable resources for student aid, such as scholarships and fellowships. (Used for reporting under GASB Standards.)
Institutional grants from unrestricted resources Institutional grants to students that are funded from resources that are not restricted to any particular purpose. (Used for reporting under GASB Standards.)
Institutional support A functional expense category that includes expenses for the day-to-day operational support of the institution. Includes expenses for general administrative services, central executive-level activities concerned with management and long range planning, legal and fiscal operations, space management, employee personnel and records, logistical services such as purchasing and printing, and public relations and development. Also includes information technology expenses related to institutional support activities. If an institution does not separately budget and expense information technology resources, the IT costs associated with student services and operation and maintenance of plant will also be applied to this function.
Institutional support (GASB aligned form reporters) A functional expense category that includes expenses for the day-to-day operational support of the institution. Includes expenses for general administrative services, central executive-level activities concerned with management and long range planning, legal and fiscal operations, space management, employee personnel and records, logistical services such as purchasing and printing, and public relations and development. Also includes information technology expenses related to institutional support activities. If an institution does not separately budget and expense information technology resources, the IT costs associated with student services and operation and maintenance of plant will also be applied to this function.
Institutional system Two or more postsecondary institutions under the control or supervision of a single administrative body.
Institutionally controlled housing Any residence hall or housing facility located on- or off-campus that is owned or controlled by an institution and used by the institution in direct support of or in a manner related to, the institution's educational purposes.
Instruction A functional expense category that includes expenses of the colleges, schools, departments, and other instructional divisions of the institution and expenses for departmental research and public service that are not separately budgeted. Includes general academic instruction, occupational and vocational instruction, community education, preparatory and adult basic education, and regular, special, and extension sessions. Also includes expenses for both credit and non-credit activities. Excludes expenses for academic administration where the primary function is administration (e.g., academic deans). Information technology expenses related to instructional activities if the institution separately budgets and expenses information technology resources are included (otherwise these expenses are included in academic support). Institutions include actual or allocated costs for operation and maintenance of plant, interest, and depreciation.
Instruction (GASB aligned form reporters) A functional expense category that includes expenses of the colleges, schools, departments, and other instructional divisions of the institution and expenses for departmental research and public service that are not separately budgeted. Includes general academic instruction, occupational and vocational instruction, community education, preparatory and adult basic education, and regular, special, and extension sessions. Also includes expenses for both credit and non-credit activities. Excludes expenses for academic administration where the primary function is administration (e.g., academic deans). Information technology expenses related to instructional activities if the institution separately budgets and expenses information technology resources are included (otherwise these expenses are included in academic support). GASB institutions include actual or allocated costs for operation and maintenance of plant and depreciation.
Instruction combined with research and/or public service

An occupational category used to classify persons for whom it is not possible to differentiate between instruction or teaching, research, and public service because each of these functions is an integral component of his/her regular assignment. Regardless of title, academic rank, or tenure status, these employees formally spend the majority of their time providing instruction, research, and/or public service.

Instructional activity The total number of credit and contact hours all students are engaged in during the specified period.
Instructional Faculty Salaries (SA)

This data, now part of the IPEDS Human Resources (HR) component, was previously a separate collection. It collects data as of November 1 of the reporting year on the number of full-time instructional faculty by rank, gender, and length of contract; total salary outlays; and fringe benefits and number of full-time instructional faculty covered by these benefits. The data have been collected annually since 1990; however data are not available for 2000. Prior to the 2001 collection, data were requested by tenure status. As of 2004, this component is applicable to all Title IV degree-granting institutions, unless they meet one of the following exclusions: all instructional faculty are part-time; all contribute their services; all are in the military; or all teach preclinical or clinical medicine. Formerly referred to as Salaries and Fringe Benefits of Full-Time Instructional Faculty (SA).

(Term used in IPEDS HR survey component prior to 2012-13)

Instructional Staff An occupational category that is comprised of staff who are either: 1) Primarily Instruction or 2) Instruction combined with research and/or public service.  The intent of the Instructional Staff category is to include all individuals whose primary occupation includes instruction at the institution.
Intangible assets Assets consisting of nonmaterial rights and benefits of an institution, such as patents, copyrights, trademarks and goodwill.
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), conducted by the NCES, began in 1986 and involves annual institution-level data collections. All postsecondary institutions that have a Program Participation Agreement with the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), U.S. Department of Education (throughout IPEDS referred to as "Title IV") are required to report data using a web-based data collection system. IPEDS currently consists of the following components: Institutional Characteristics (IC); 12-month Enrollment (E12);Completions (C); Human Resources (HR) composed of Employees by Assigned Position (EAP), Fall Staff (S),and Salaries (SA); Fall Enrollment (EF); Graduation Rates (GRS); Finance (F); and Student Financial Aid (SFA).
Interest The price paid (or received) for the use of money over a period of time. Interest income is one component of investment income. Interest paid by the institution is interest expense.
Interlibrary loan transactions The numbers of filled requests for materials provided to other libraries or received by the library from another library. This includes originals and copies, and materials sent by electronic submission.
Invested in capital assets, net of related debt Net assets of GASB institutions that consist of capital assets net of accumulated depreciation, reduced by the outstanding indebtedness on capital assets. FASB institutions do not use this classification; most of the equivalent net assets are considered unrestricted net assets.
Investment gains The gain derived from the investment of capital. Such gains may take the form of a market appreciation of the value of the investment. The gain may be realized if the asset or capital is sold or unrealized if the asset or capital is not sold.
Investment income Revenues derived from the institution's investments, including investments of endowment funds. Such income may take the form of interest income, dividend income, rental income or royalty income and includes both realized and unrealized gains and losses.
Investment return Income from assets including dividends, interest earnings, royalties, rent, gains (losses) etc.
IPEDS College Opportunities Online Locator (IPEDS COOL) No longer active - see College Navigator.
IPEDS coordinator The person responsible for Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) survey related coordination activities for a specified group of schools within a state or system. This person has certain viewing, verifying and locking privileges on the data collection system.
IPEDS Data Center The IPEDS Data Center is the single entry point for retrieving IPEDS data. Using the data center, one can easily download data files for one or more institutions with information from any of the IPEDS components or download complete data files, produce a variety of reports, or create group statistics. The data center replaces the old IPEDS Peer Analysis System and Dataset Cutting Tool, and features improvements in navigation, institution selection, and variable selection, as well as increased on-screen help.
IPEDS universe Those postsecondary institutions that have been identified and are potential respondents to the IPEDS surveys. The universe does not include all postsecondary institutions because many exist that are not included in the list of Title IV eligible institutions and, thus, there is currently no complete list of these institutions. Institutional Characteristics (IC)

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education