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Use The Data - FAQ

IPEDS Data Feedback Report FAQs

General

1. What is the purpose of the Data Feedback Report (DFR)?

A DFR allows an institution to compare and benchmark their reported Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data with peer institutions (a.k.a. comparison group). The DFR often serves multiple purposes for multiple audiences, including:

  • IPEDS Keyholders and Coordinators may use the report as a straightforward, at-a-glance tool to identify data similarities and differences between their institution(s) and the comparison institutions.
  • Institutional Executives may use the report as a tool to communicate with institutional stakeholders to help improve the quality and comparability of IPEDS data.
  • Researchers may use the report to identify data issues for further exploration and analysis.
  • For all audiences, the DFR serves as an introduction to IPEDS data, and encourages data users to further explore the data using the suite of IPEDS data tools available on the Use the Data web page.

2. When is the DFR released?

Each year, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education typically releases the standard version of the DFRs around late fall or early winter. Primary IPEDS Keyholders and, if applicable, Coordinators will receive an e-mail with links to the institution's DFR. The DFRs are accessible in Portable Document Format (PDF) and Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) web format. The PDF reports are available to download or print. The HTML reports are accessible online where users can navigate through charts using key tab or mouse. The HTML reports are compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. About two weeks later, NCES will e-mail the same DFR links to the institution's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or President.

3. I still have more questions about the Data Feedback Reports and the tool on the IPEDS Use the Data website. Are there any other resources?

Yes, there are several resources. First, consider watching the Association for Institutional Research’s (AIR) quick but substantive videos. You might also consider attending an AIR hosted "IPEDS Data and Benchmarking: Supporting Decision Making and Institutional Effectiveness" workshop that delves into the many uses of the DFR and the IPEDS data. Visit the AIR website to find out when these free workshops are available. Also, you can review the DFR portion of the IPEDS Use the Data – Help section. Finally, you can contact the IPEDS Tools Help Desk at (866) 558-0658 or ipedstools@rti.org.

Data Users

1. How was the comparison group selected for my institution's DFR?

The standard DFR will use a custom comparison group, if an institution creates one. However, if the institution does not create a custom comparison group, NCES will generate and use an automatic comparison group. Only one comparison group can be used in the standard version of the Data Feedback Report, which is e-mailed to IPEDS Keyholders, Coordinators, and CEOs.

The NCES automatic comparison group for degree-granting institutions is based on control type, Carnegie Classification, and enrollment size. The automatic comparison group for non-degree-granting institutions is based on control type, largest program of study, and enrollment size. The largest program of study is reported in the Institutional Characteristics survey component. While these characteristics do not change drastically from year to year, it is possible that some comparison group institutions may drop out or new institutions may be added into the automatic comparison group depending on changes in the institution's characteristics. Automatic comparison groups for all institutions can be accessed by using the "Compare Institutions" or the "Survey Data's Custom Data Files" features in the Use the Data website.

If an institution creates a custom comparison group, NCES will use the custom comparison group for each subsequent year until changes or updates to the institution's custom comparison group are made by the primary Keyholder.

2. What is the difference between a standard DFR and a custom DFR?

NCES generates a pre-defined set of data figures for the standard DFR, which is accessible in Portable Document Format (PDF) and Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) web format. The PDF reports are available to download or print. The HTML reports are accessible online where users can navigate through charts using key tab or mouse. The HTML reports are compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. All Keyholders, Coordinators, and CEOs will receive an email with the links to access the standard DFR. Once the standard DFR links are e-mailed to institutions, users can create a custom DFR, using the most current data, through the Data Feedback Report tool on the Use the Data website. The custom DFR can be modified to use a different comparison group or data figures and is accessible in PDF and HTML web format.

3. Do DFRs use the most recent IPEDS data?

Yes, the DFRs use the most current data at the time of release, which are data that have been released at the provisional level. When the DFRs are released (typically late fall or early winter), DFRs will include data reported from the previous Fall-to-Spring IPEDS collection cycle.

4. How do I access my institution's previous standard DFRs?

All current and previous DFRs are stored in the 'Data Feedback Reports' tool on IPEDS Use the Data website. Enter your institution's name or IPEDS Unit ID as your "1. Comparison Institution." A bulleted list will appear. The third bullet "View Previous Data Feedback Reports" will open a pop-up window with your institution's current and previous DFRs. The DFRs from 2018 and earlier are accessible in Portable Document Format (PDF) and are available to download and print. Beginning in 2019, the DFRs are accessible in PDF and Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) web format. The HTML reports are accessible online where users can navigate through charts using key tab or mouse. The HTML reports are compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

5. Could I also see and download other institution's current or previous DFRs?

Yes, you can. Follow FAQ #4, but instead of entering your institution's name or IPEDS Unit ID, enter the other institution's information to access the other institution's standard DFR.

Data Reporters

1. Is it mandatory to customize my institution's comparison group?

No, it is not mandatory. If you do nothing, NCES will either use a previously created custom comparison group or the NCES automatic comparison group for the standard version of the DFR, which the CEO/President and IPEDS Keyholder receive.

2. How can I update my institution's custom comparison group for the Standard version of the DFR?

Only primary IPEDS Keyholders can update their comparison group, through the https://surveys.nces.ed.gov/ipeds/. Instructions to update the comparison group can be found under the "Custom Comparison Groups" option located under the "Help" menu. To facilitate the creation of your custom comparison group, you will need to know the IPEDS unit IDs of the comparison institutions, which can be identified through the "Look Up an Institution" tool on the IPEDS Use the Data website. Making changes to your institution's custom comparison group that is used for the standard report must be made between mid-January through mid-July of each year.

3. What if I miss the deadline to update my custom comparison group?

After the deadline, and once the DFRs have been released to the institutions, you can use the "Create a Custom Data Feedback Report" feature in the "Data Feedback Report" tool found on the IPEDS Use the Data website. This feature of the DFR tool allows institutions to re-create the DFR with different comparison groups and/or different data figures.

4. How can I change the primary IPEDS Keyholder?

Changing the primary IPEDS Keyholder can be only be done through the IPEDS Data Collection System, and only by the individual in possession of the Keyholder UserID and Password. To change the Keyholder, scroll down to the "Registration" option which is located under the "Tools" menu, and update the contact information for the new Keyholder.

5. After reviewing my DFR, I found a data reporting error. How can I correct the error?

Data can be corrected using the IPEDS Prior Year Revision System. However, this system is only open during the current collection when the same survey component is also open for collection.

There are two items to note: 1) By the time the DFR is released, it is too late to make corrections which will be reflected in the DFR, and 2) If changes are made in the Prior Year Revision System, NCES will update the data in the final data release. However, standard DFRs utilize provisional level data and are not reproduced when the final data are released.

6. Where can I find the IPEDS data that I reported for my institution?

Use the "Look Up an Institution" tool on the IPEDS Use the Data website, locate your institution (by name or UntiID), then click on "Reported Data" and you will see an archive of the submitted survey forms with your institution's reported data. To narrow down your search, take note of the survey component cited in the "Source" section of each DFR figure.