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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
Land and land improvements Capital assets consisting of land and improvements such as athletic fields, golf courses, or lakes. Land is nondepreciable; some land improvements are depreciable and some are nondepreciable.
Land-grant institution A land-grant college or university is an institution that has been designated by its state legislature or Congress to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. The original mission of these institutions, as set forth in the first Morrill Act, was to teach agriculture, military tactics, and the mechanic arts as well as classical studies so that members of the working classes could obtain a liberal, practical education. For more information on land-grant institutions see
Less than 2-year institution A postsecondary institution that offers programs of less than 2-years duration below the baccalaureate level. Includes occupational and vocational schools with programs that do not exceed 1800 contact hours .
Less than 9/10-month salary contract/teaching period

The contracted teaching period of faculty employed for less than 2 semesters, 3 quarters, 2 trimesters, or 2 4-month sessions.

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

Less-than-annual contract or employment agreement A contract or employment agreement that is in effect for a partial year period of less than 365 days, or less than a standard academic year or the equivalent. Includes contracts for partial year periods such as a single semester, quarter, term, block, or course.
Level (of institution) A classification of whether an institution's programs are 4-year or higher (4 year), 2-but-less-than 4-year (2 year), or less than 2-year. Sector
Control (of institution)
Levels of offering Information collected in the Institutional Characteristics component which indicates all applicable levels for all credit programs offered at an institution. Award levels are identified on the basis of recognition for their completion, duration, or a combination thereof. Degree-designated award levels indicate those degree levels for which the institution is authorized to make formal awards. Length of study is the equivalent of the number of full-time academic years. For example, at least 1 but less than 2 years refers to the number of credits or the course load that would normally be completed by a full-time student attending within the stated time period.
Liabilities Debts and obligations of the institution owed to outsiders or claims or rights, expressed in monetary terms, of an institution's creditors. GASB institutions are required to report liabilities under two categories - current liabilities and noncurrent liabilities.
Librarians An occupational category based on the broad occupation in the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Manual called "Librarians."  For detailed information, refer to the following website:
Librarians, Curators, and Archivists An occupational category based on the following three broad occupations in the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Manual:  1) Librarians (; 2) Archivists, Curators, and Museum Technicians (; and 3) Library Technicians  (
Library An organized collection of printed, microform, and audiovisual materials which (a) is administered as one or more units, (b) is located in one or more designated places, and (c) makes printed, microform, and audiovisual materials as well as necessary equipment and services of a staff accessible to students and to faculty. Includes units meeting the above definition which are part of a learning resource center.
Library and Student and Academic Affairs and Other Education Services Occupations An occupational category consisting of the following:

1. Archivists, Curators, and Museum Technicians
2. Librarians
3. Library Technicians
4. Student and Academic Affairs and Other Education Servies Occupations
Library collections Comprise of documents held locally and remote resources for which permanent or temporary access rights have been acquired. Access rights may be acquired by the library itself, by a consortium and/or through external funding. Acquisition is to be understood as securing access rights and including it in the library catalog, other library databases or discovery systems.
Library Consortia A library consortium is any local, statewide, regional, or interstate cooperative association of libraries that provides for the systematic and effective coordination of the resources of schools, public, academic, and special libraries and information centers, for improving services to the clientele of such libraries. (U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Sect. 54.500)
Library expenses Funds expended by the library (regardless of when received) from its regular budget and from all other sources; e.g., research grants, special projects, gifts and endowments, and fees for services.
Library Technicians An occupational category based on the broad occupation in the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Manual called "Library Technicians."  For detailed information, refer to the following website:
Loan funds Funds that have been loaned, or are available for loans to students, faculty, and staff.
Loans to students Any monies that must be repaid to the lending institution for which the student is the designated borrower. Includes all Title IV subsidized and unsubsidized loans and all institutionally- and privately-sponsored loans. Does not include PLUS and other loans made directly to parents.
Local appropriations, education district taxes, and similar support Local appropriations are government appropriations made by a governmental entity below the state level. Education district taxes include all tax revenues assessed directly by an institution or on behalf of an institution when the institution will receive the exact amount collected. These revenues also include similar revenues that result from actions of local governments or citizens (such as through a referendum) that result in receipt by the institution of revenues based on collections of other taxes or resources (sales taxes, gambling taxes, etc.).
Local government grants and contracts (revenues) Revenues from local government agencies that are for training programs and similar activities for which amounts are received or expenditures are reimbursable under the terms of a local government grant or contract. These amounts can be treated as an allowance, an agency transaction, or as a student aid expense in the institution's General Purpose Financial Statements (GPFS) and are reported differently depending on their treatment. Generally, however, private institutions report these grants as allowances when applied to the student's account and as local grant revenues when received.
Locked The survey status obtained when a keyholder has resolved all edits/errors and has decided that data are ready to "submit" to IPEDS. Once locked, the system becomes read only and the keyholder no longer has access to the system to alter data.
Long programs Undergraduate programs that exceed the usual program length for a specific level. This would include programs of 5 years or longer for 4-year institutions and programs of 3 years or longer for 2-year institutions.
Long-term debt Debt of the institution in the form of bonds, notes, capital leases, and other forms of debt that are repayable over a period greater than one year. Long-term debt, current portion
Long-term debt, current portion The amount of long-term debt that the institution is expected to pay or liquidate during the next year using current assets.
Long-term investments Money or capital invested for purposes of receiving a profitable return over a period of time of more than one year. Long-term investments should be distinguished from temporary investments based on the intention of the organization regarding the terms of the investment rather than the nature of the investment itself. Includes: 1) cash held until appropriate investments are identified; 2) repurchase agreements and other money market media; 3) equity securities and mutual fund investments; 4) debt securities; 5) real estate held for income production; 6) beneficial interest in trusts; and 7) other. GASB institutions report these investments under "noncurrent assets."
Losses Decreases in net assets from an organization's peripheral or incidental transactions and other events affecting the organization, other than those that result from expenses.


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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education