Skip Navigation

Memorandum for the NCES Review Tracking System (RTS) - IPEDS Data Collection Cycle

2020–21 IPEDS Data Collection: Fall Data Release – Provisional Level

The provisional level data release of the components collected during the fall collection period of the 2020–21 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) contains substantive changes in file structure or file documentation for two components of IPEDS compared to the previous year. Within the Completions component there were 3 notable changes. First, the less-than-1-year certificate award level was divided into two award level categories. Second, the 2020 version of the Classification of Instructional Programs was required when reporting the program of study associated with an award. Finally, the distance education classification for each program was expanded to collect more detail. Within the 12-Month Enrollment component, institutions were required to disaggregate undergraduate students by enrollment and degree-seeking status, similar to the Fall Enrollment component, and were also required to report distance education data for both undergraduate and graduate students enrolled. Details regarding these changes can be found under “Updates to the Data Collection” on the IPEDS Report Your Data website (, as pictured below.

The data are released to the public through the “Use the Data” portal ( on the IPEDS website. The IPEDS Methodology has been reviewed and approved by the NCES Review Staff and is currently posted on the IPEDS website as a resource for data users.

IPEDS is an annual, large-scale, web-based survey that collects institution-level data from postsecondary institutions in the United States (50 states and the District of Columbia) and other U.S. jurisdictions.1 For more information about the IPEDS Survey, its 12 components, and data release procedures visit This memorandum documents the IPEDS universe of reporting institutions and response to the fall collection period of the 2020–21 IPEDS, which was open from September 2, 2020 to October 14, 2020.

2020–21 IPEDS Universe of Institutions

The IPEDS universe is established during the fall collection period. During the 2020–21 collection year, there were 6,133 Title IV institutions and administrative offices2 in the United States and other jurisdictions of the United States, such as Puerto Rico. For 2020–21, a total of 558 postsecondary institutions were reported exclusively by a parent institution and are not included in the universe counts. The four U.S. service academies that are not Title IV eligible are included in the IPEDS universe because they are federally funded and open to the public.3

NCES statistical standards require that the potential for nonresponse bias for all institutions be analyzed for sectors for which the response rate is less than 85 percent. Because response rates were nearly 100 percent for each survey component, no such analysis was necessary.

Table 1 provides an overview of the number of institutions responding to the components that comprise the fall collection period. This table is updated after each collection period’s data release. Appendix A provides a summary of responses for the previous collection year for comparison purposes. Appendix B shows a table of institutions with a Title IV status change4. Of the 182 institutions that changed Title IV status in 2020–21, 103 were for-profit institutions.

Table 1. Summary of Response by IPEDS Survey Component, 2020-21 Data Collection

IPEDS Survey Component Number of Institutions
Not required to report 1 Expected to respond Did not respond2 Provided data
Fall Collection Period: September 2, 2020 and October 14, 2020
Institutional Characteristics 0 6,133 1 6,132
Completions 3 0 6,063 5 6,058
12-Month Enrollment 3 8 6,055 6 6,049
Winter Collection Period: December 9, 2020 and February 10, 2021
Admissions 3
Graduation Rates 3
200 Percent Graduation Rates 3
Outcome Measures 3
Student Financial Aid 3
Spring Collection Period: December 9, 2020 and April 7, 2021
Academic Libraries 3
Fall Enrollment 3
Human Resources


— Data currently not available.
1 Not required to respond to the survey component because the institutions were new, were closed, did not enroll students, or did not meet the criteria for the component (e.g., some components only apply to degree-granting institutions).
2 Due to unit nonresponse, all data were imputed for nonresponding institutions.
3 Does not include the 70 administrative offices. An administrative office is a system or central office in a multi-campus environment.
NOTE: Title IV institutions are those with a written agreement with the U.S. Department of Education that allows the institution to participate in any of the Title IV federal student financial assistance programs. The four U.S. service academies that are not Title IV eligible are included in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) universe because they are federally funded and open to the public. Definitions for terms used in this table may be found in the IPEDS online glossary located at
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS 2020–21 collection (provisional data).

For any questions related to this data product release, please contact Tara Lawley, IPEDS Program Director, (

1 The other U.S. jurisdictions surveyed in IPEDS are American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
2 Title IV institutions and administrative offices include 6,063 institutions and 70 administrative (central or system) offices. The central and system offices are required to complete the Institutional Characteristics component in the fall, the Human Resources component in the spring, and the Finance component in the spring (if they have their own separate budget).
3 The four U.S. service academies that are not Title IV eligible are the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is Title IV eligible. Data for all five institutions are included in the tables and counts of institutions unless otherwise indicated.
4 An institution may be classified as changing Title IV status for the following reasons: it closed, it no longer provides federal funded financial assistance, it lost Title IV eligibility, it combined or merged with another institution, it is new, it began to provide federal funded financial assistance, or it regained Title IV eligibility.