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Custom Data Files

This data tool allows you to create and download a customized data file according to the specifications for any or all institutions in the IPEDS universe. Data can be downloaded in a variety of formats.

Step 1: Getting started

For all first time tasks within the Data Center, except Customize DFR, you will be asked to indicate the type of data you wish to access: Preliminary/Provisional Release Data or Final Release Data.

1.1 Use Preliminary/Provisional Release Data

This option allows you to access either Provisional Release Data or Preliminary Release Data (only available for most current collection year).

1.1.1 Preliminary Release Data

Preliminary Release Data are data that have completed an initial review and validation process. However, imputed data for non-responding institutions are not included. If Preliminary Release Data are available, it will be marked with a tilde (~) and automatically selected. Preliminary Release Data are only available for the most recent data year, and remain available until the Provisional Data are released. Due to the nature of the data release cycle, Preliminary Release Data are not always available. For reference, a list of the IPEDS data components with Preliminary Release Data available is displayed along with the relevant data year, as shown below:

1.1.2 Provisional Release Data

Provisional Release Data have undergone full NCES quality control procedures. These data have been imputed for nonresponding institutions but are still subject to additional revisions that may be submitted by institutions during the subsequent data collection year through the IPEDS Prior Year Revision (PYR) System. For reference, a list of the IPEDS survey components with Provisional Release Data available is displayed along with the relevant data year, as shown below:

1.2 Use final release data

This option allows you to access Final Release Data.

1.2.1 Final Release Data

Final (Revised) Release Data are data released the year following the initial collection, after institutions have been given an opportunity to revise their data if they believe it was inaccurately reported in the prior year through the IPEDS PYR System. Final release data can be used when the most up to date data are required; however, these data may not match the tables from the NCES First Look publication.

Once you have finished making selections, click Continue at the bottom of the screen, as shown below:

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Step 2: Select Institutions

  • Start by selecting the institution or institutions to include in the custom data files. As institutions are selected they will be added to the My Institutions list, as shown below.

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  • This status bar is displayed at all times for reference. The View/Modify button can be selected at any time to make changes to the list of selected institutions.
  • Selecting a Comparison Group (or an institution group) is a necessary process for selecting data to compare or evaluate. For detailed instructions, please refer to the Shortcuts section on how to Create, Save, or Upload Institutions.
  • When finished selecting institutions, click Continue or the Select Variables tab to continue to the next step in creating the custom data file.

Step 3: Select Variables

  • In order to get a custom data set, select data to include in your data set by first selecting a year, then browsing that year's tree for variables. You can select data from multiple years before clicking Continue. The list of Available Year(s) is present at the top of the variable tree, as shown below. For detailed instructions on browsing and searching for variables, please refer to Shortcuts section on how to Create, Save, or Upload Variables.

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  • When finished selecting variables for the selected data year, you may choose additional years from Available Year(s) list at the top of the screen and continue selecting variables as desired. When finished selecting variables for the data file, click Continue.
  • Any new variables that are selected for this report will be added to the My Variables list, and a count of selected variables will appear at the top of the screen.

Step 4: Download the Data Set

Depending on which variable(s) have been selected multiple data files may be produced for downloading. The IPEDS survey source for each is displayed in the Survey/Section column for reference.

  • Click on the file extension to save the report in the desired format; or, click on the modify button to go back and change the chosen variables.

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    • CSV – Select this option to download the data set in basic comma separated values format viewable in Microsoft Excel and most other spreadsheet applications.
    • SAS – Choose this option to download the data set in CSV format, specially configured for use in conjunction with the SAS statistical software package.
    • STATA – Select this option to download the data set in basic comma separated values format viewable in Microsoft Excel and most other spreadsheet applications.
    • SPSS – Choose this option to download the data set in CSV format, specially configured for use in conjunction with the SPSS statistical software package.
  • You may also include imputation flags with the data, as desired. An Imputation Flag is an indicator on a data file that shows whether or not a value was imputed (e.g. a statistical estimate was substituted in place of missing data) for institutions that did not respond to a data item or survey.

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  • Repeat this process for any additional files to download. When finished with this task, use the Main Menu to navigate to a different task in the Use the Data portal; or, click on Start Over from the navigation menu at the top of the screen to end the current session.