Skip Navigation
small NCES header image

Request For Comments on New Time Burden Estimates for Completing IPEDS

How Many Hours Does It Take to Complete IPEDS Surveys?
NCES Seeks Comments on New Time Burden Estimates for IPEDS Reporting.

Elise.Miller@ed.gov
Proposed Estimates for How Long It Takes to Complete IPEDS
Type of Institution Returning Keyholder New Keyholder
4-year 137 hours 206 hours
2-year 109 hours 164 hours
Less-than-2-year 57 hours 86 hours


The Federal Government requires each Federal agency to estimate the burden associated with every Federal data collection. In 2007, the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) received comments from the postsecondary education community expressing concerns that the time-burden estimates on record for IPEDS reporting did not accurately reflect the time that institutions spend “reviewing instructions, searching data sources, completing and reviewing their responses, and transmitting” the data to NCES. To address these concerns, NCES commissioned an internal study, which confirmed that among the handful of institutions contacted, the completion of IPEDS required considerably more time than NCES estimated. At the same time, through the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, Congress directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study that examined the NCES burden estimates (see http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10871.pdf). That study also found that NCES was significantly understating the reporting time for the IPEDS data collection.

Based on the results of both its own study and the GAO study, NCES is proposing new estimates and seeks comments from the community as to their accuracy. Institutions responding to the NCES study indicated that it took between 60 and 160 hours to complete IPEDS in 2008-09. Institutions contacted by the GAO for its study estimated between 12 and 590 hours for 2009-10. Previous NCES estimates, which averaged to only about 28 hours per institution, were based on the time required to complete different versions forms for each component. The GAO report suggested that NCES instead consider basing estimates on institutional characteristics and IPEDS keyholder experience, as these have significant impact on variations in time burden.

Based on the GAO recommendations, NCES has developed new time burden estimates that take into account the type of institutions (4-year, 2-year, and less-than-2-year) as well as keyholder experience. Recognizing that there will still be great variability in the time required to complete IPEDS by different institutions and keyholders, and that as the GAO noted, “estimates are not precise,” NCES estimates that the time required to complete the IPEDS survey components annually ranges from 57 hours for a returning keyholder at a less than 2-year institution to 206 hours for a new keyholder at a 4-year institution. Detailed estimates are outlined on the following page. NCES encourages comments from IPEDS keyholders, and others who assist in reporting IPEDS data, based on their experiences submitting IPEDS data to NCES. The time to complete IPEDS should reflect the time that institutions spend reviewing instructions, searching data sources, completing and reviewing their responses, and transmitting the data to NCES. To submit comments, send an email with the subject line “IPEDS BURDEN” to Elise.Miller@ed.gov by October 1, 2010. Please include your type of institution and years of experience as a keyholder in your comments.

New Proposed Estimates for How Long It Takes to Complete IPEDS Survey Components Annually*
  4-year institution 2-year institution Less than 2-year institution
Returning Keyholder
Total 137 hours 109 hours 57 hours
Institutional Characteristics (including IC Header) 10 6 4
Completions 14 12 5
12-Month Enrollment 8 9 6
Human Resources 30 15 5
Finance 13 10 6
Fall Enrollment 17 15 4
Student Financial Aid 26 20 14
Graduation Rates 15 18 10
Graduation Rates 200 4 4 3
 
New Keyholder
Total 206 hours 164 hours 86 hours
Institutional Characteristics (including IC Header) 15 9 6
Completions 21 18 8
12-Month Enrollment 12 13 9
Human Resources 45 23 8
Finance 20 15 6
Fall Enrollment 26 23 9
Student Financial Aid 39 30 21
Graduation Rates 22 27 15
Graduation Rates 200 6 6 4
 
*The time to complete IPEDS survey components includes the time that institutions spend to review instructions, search data sources, complete and review their responses, and transmit the data to NCES.
Would you like to help us improve our products and website by taking a short survey?

YES, I would like to take the survey

or

No Thanks

The survey consists of a few short questions and takes less than one minute to complete.
National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education