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Institutional Characteristics (IC) Glossary

Academic year
The period of time generally extending from September to June; usually equated to 2 semesters or trimesters, 3 quarters, or the period covered by a 4-1-4 calendar system.
Application fee
That amount of money that an institution charges for processing a student's application for admittance to the institution. This amount is not creditable toward tuition or required fees, nor is it refundable if the student is not admitted to the institution.
Board charges
Charges assessed students for an academic year for meals.
Board plan
The method for providing meals to students during an academic year. Plans may include a specific charge for a specified number of meals per week or a specified amount against which students may charge their meals.
Books and supplies
The average cost of books and supplies for a typical student for an entire academic year (or program). Does not include unusual costs for special groups of students (e.g., engineering or art majors), unless they constitute the majority of students at an institution.
CIP code
A six-digit code in the form xx.xxxx that identifies instructional program specialties within educational institutions.
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP)
A taxonomic coding scheme for secondary and postsecondary instructional programs. It is intended to facilitate the organization, collection, and reporting of program data using classifications that capture the majority of reportable data. The CIP is the accepted federal government statistical standard on instructional program classifications and is used in a variety of education information surveys and databases.
Clock hour
A unit of measure that represents an hour of scheduled instruction given to students. Also referred to as contact hour.
Comprehensive fee
A single fixed amount of money charged by an institution that covers tuition, required fees, room, and board. For some institutions, this amount may also cover books and supplies.
Contact hour
A unit of measure that represents an hour of scheduled instruction given to students. Also referred to as clock hour.
Counseling service
Activities designed to assist students in making plans and decisions related to their education, career, or personal development.
Credit for life experiences
Credit earned by students for what they have learned through independent study, noncredit adult courses, work experience, portfolio demonstration, previous licensure or certification, or completion of other learning opportunities (military, government, or professional). Credit may also be awarded through a credit by examination program.
Credit for Military Training
Postsecondary credit granted by institutions to military servicemen or veterans for experiences and training gained while in the service.
Credit hour
A unit of measure representing the equivalent of an hour (50 minutes) of instruction per week over the entire term. It is applied toward the total number of credit hours needed for completing the requirements of a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award.
Day care service
A student service designed to provide appropriate care and protection of infants, preschool, and school-age children so their parents can participate in postsecondary education programs .
Degree/certificate-seeking students
Students enrolled in courses for credit who are seeking a degree, certificate, or other formal award. This includes students who:
   - received any type of federal financial aid, regardless of what courses they took at any time;
   - received any state or locally based financial aid with an eligibility requirement that the student be enrolled in a degree, certificate, or transfer-seeking program; or
   - obtained a student visa to study at a U.S. postsecondary institution

High school students also enrolled in postsecondary courses for credit are not considered degree/certificate-seeking.
Department of Defense Voluntary Education Program Memorandum of Understanding
A voluntary program that functions to expand and improve postsecondary opportunities for servicemembers worldwide. It is funded by the Department of Defense through a contract with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).
Disability services
Programs designed to provide reasonable academic accommodations and support services to empower students who have disabilities to competitively pursue postsecondary education. May also include assistance to campus departments in providing access to services and programs in the most integrated setting possible.
Distance education

Education that uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously.

Technologies used for instruction may include the following: Internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcasts, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite or wireless communication devices; audio conferencing; and video cassette, DVDs, and CD-ROMs, if the cassette, DVDs, and CD-ROMs are used in a course in conjunction with the technologies listed above.

Distance education course
A course in which the instructional content is delivered exclusively via distance education.  Requirements for coming to campus for orientation, testing, or academic support services do not exclude a course from being classified as distance education.
Distance education program
A program for which all the required coursework for program completion is able to be completed via distance education courses.
Doctor's degree-professional practice
A doctor's degree that is conferred upon completion of a program providing the knowledge and skills for the recognition, credential, or license required for professional practice. The degree is awarded after a period of study such that the total time to the degree, including both pre-professional and professional preparation, equals at least six full-time equivalent academic years. Some of these degrees were formerly classified as first-professional and may include: Chiropractic (D.C. or D.C.M.); Dentistry (D.D.S. or D.M.D.); Law (J.D.); Medicine (M.D.); Optometry (O.D.); Osteopathic Medicine (D.O); Pharmacy (Pharm.D.); Podiatry (D.P.M., Pod.D., D.P.); or, Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.), and others, as designated by the awarding institution.
Dual credit
A program through which high school students are enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses, taught at their high school, that fulfill high school graduation requirements and may earn the student college credits .
Employment services for current students
Activities intended to assist students in obtaining part-time employment as a means of defraying part of the cost of their education.
First-time student (undergraduate)
A student who has no prior postsecondary experience (except as noted below) attending any institution for the first time at the undergraduate level. This includes students enrolled in academic or occupational programs. It also includes students enrolled in the fall term who attended college for the first time in the prior summer term, and students who entered with advanced standing (college credits or postsecondary formal award earned before graduation from high school).
Full-time student
Undergraduate: A student enrolled for 12 or more semester credits, or 12 or more quarter credits, or 24 or more contact hours a week each term. Graduate: A student enrolled for 9 or more semester credits, or 9 or more quarter credits, or a student involved in thesis or dissertation preparation that is considered full-time by the institution. Doctor's degree - Professional practice - as defined by the institution.
Governing board
An entity that ensures on behalf of the public the performance of an institution or a group of institutions. Responsibilities of the board may include appointing, supporting, and monitoring the president of the institution; reviewing educational and public service programs; insisting on strategic planning; and, ensuring good management and adequate resources.
Graduate student
A student who holds a bachelor's degree or above and is taking courses at the postbaccalaureate level. These students may or may not be enrolled in graduate programs.
Housing capacity
The maximum number of students for which an institution can provide residential facilities, whether on or off campus.
In-district student
A student who is a legal resident of the locality in which he/she attends school and thus is entitled to reduced tuition charges if offered by the institution.
In-district tuition
The tuition charged by the institution to those students residing in the locality in which they attend school. This may be a lower rate than in-state tuition if offered by the institution.
In-state student
A student who is a legal resident of the state in which he/she attends school.
In-state tuition
The tuition charged by institutions to those students who meet the state's or institution's residency requirements.
Institutionally controlled housing
Any residence hall or housing facility located on- or off-campus that is owned or controlled by an institution and used by the institution in direct support of or in a manner related to, the institution's educational purposes.
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), conducted by the NCES, began in 1986 and involves annual institution-level data collections. All postsecondary institutions that have a Program Participation Agreement with the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), U.S. Department of Education (throughout IPEDS referred to as "Title IV") are required to report data using a web-based data collection system. IPEDS currently consists of the following components: Institutional Characteristics (IC); 12-month Enrollment (E12);Completions (C); Admissions (ADM); Student Financial Aid (SFA); Human Resources (HR) composed of Employees by Assigned Position, Fall Staff, and Salaries; Fall Enrollment (EF); Graduation Rates (GR); Outcome Measures (OM); Finance (F); and Academic Libraries (AL).
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.
Net price
The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 defines institutional net price as "the average yearly price actually charged to first-time, full-time undergraduate students receiving student aid at an institution of higher education after deducting such aid." In IPEDS, average institutional net price is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state/local government, or institutional grant and scholarship aid from the total cost of attendance. Total cost of attendance is the sum of published tuition and required fees (lower of in-district or in-state for public institutions), books and supplies, and the weighted average for room and board and other expenses. Cost of attendance data are collected in the Institutional Characteristics (IC) component of IPEDS, and financial aid data are collected in the Student Financial Aid (SFA) component of IPEDS.
Off-campus (not with family)
A living arrangement in which a student does not live with the student's parents or legal guardians in any housing facility that is not owned or controlled by the educational institution.
Off-campus (with family)
A living arrangement in which a student lives with the student's parents or legal guardians in any housing facility that is not owned or controlled by the educational institution.
Off-campus housing
Any housing facility that is occupied by students but is not owned or controlled by the educational institution.
On-campus housing
Any residence hall or housing facility owned or controlled by an institution within the same reasonably contiguous geographic area and used by the institution in direct support of or in a manner related to, the institution's educational purposes.
Other expenses
The amount of money (estimated by the financial aid office) needed by a student to cover expenses such as laundry, transportation, and entertainment.
Out-of-state student
A student who is not a legal resident of the state in which he/she attends school.
Out-of-state tuition
The tuition charged by institutions to those students who do not meet the institution's or state's residency requirements.
Part-time student
Undergraduate: A student enrolled for either less than 12 semester or quarter credits, or less than 24 contact hours a week each term. Graduate: A student enrolled for less than 9 semester or quarter credits.
Placement services for program completers
Assistance for students in evaluating their career alternatives and in obtaining full-time employment upon leaving the institution.
Post 9/11 GI Bill
A federal education benefit program for veterans, who served on active duty after September 10, 2001. This Department of Veteran Affairs benefit provides up to 36 months of education benefits at an approved institution for the following college costs: tuition and fees, books and supplies and housing. The tuition and fees payment, which is the cost for an in-state student attending a public institution, is made directly to the postsecondary institution whereas payments for books and supplies and housing are sent directly to the student.
Postsecondary education institution
An institution which has as its sole purpose or one of its primary missions, the provision of postsecondary education.
Prepaid tuition plan
A program that allows students or their families to purchase college tuition or tuition credits for future years, at current prices.
Program
A combination of courses and related activities organized for the attainment of broad educational objectives as described by the institution.
Remedial services
Instructional activities designed for students deficient in the general competencies necessary for a regular postsecondary curriculum and educational setting.
Required fees
Fixed sum charged to students for items not covered by tuition and required of such a large proportion of all students that the student who does not pay the charge is an exception.
Room charges
The charges for an academic year for rooming accommodations for a typical student sharing a room with one other student.
Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges
A membership group of over 1,700 institutions that functions to expand and improve voluntary postsecondary opportunities for servicemembers worldwide. It is funded by the Department of Defense through a contract with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).
Shared library
A facility housing an organized collection of printed, microform, and audiovisual materials, and (a) is jointly administered by more than one educational institution, or (b) whose funds or operating expenditures have been received from more than one educational institution. The location of the facility is not a determining factor.
Study abroad
Arrangement by which a student completes part of the college program studying in another country. Can be at a campus abroad or through a cooperative agreement with some other U.S. college or an institution of another country.
System
An organization of two or more institutions of higher education under the control or supervision of a common administrative governing body. Governing bodies generally have the power to act in their own name, to hire and fire personnel, enter into contracts, etc. A coordinating body without these powers or a section of a state agency usually would not be considered a system office.
Teacher certification program
A program designed to prepare students to meet the requirements for certification as teachers in elementary, middle/junior high, and secondary schools.
Title IV institution
An institution that has a written agreement with the Secretary of Education that allows the institution to participate in any of the Title IV federal student financial assistance programs (other than the State Student Incentive Grant (SSIG) and the National Early Intervention Scholarship and Partnership (NEISP) programs).
Tuition
The amount of money charged to students for instructional services. Tuition may be charged per term, per course, or per credit.
Tuition and fees (published charges)
The amount of tuition and required fees covering a full academic year most frequently charged to students. These values represent what a typical student would be charged and may not be the same for all students at an institution. If tuition is charged on a per-credit-hour basis, the average full-time credit hour load for an entire academic year is used to estimate average tuition. Required fees include all fixed sum charges that are required of such a large proportion of all students that the student who does not pay the charges is an exception.
Tuition guarantee
A program where the institution guarantees, to entering first-time students, that tuition will not increase for the years they are enrolled. These guarantees are generally time-bound for four or five years.
Tuition payment plan
A program that allows tuition to be paid in installments spread out over an agreed upon period of time, sometimes without interest or finance charges.
Undergraduate
A student enrolled in a 4- or 5-year bachelor's degree program, an associate's degree program, or a vocational or technical program below the baccalaureate.
Weekend/evening college
A program that allows students to take a complete course of study and attend classes only on weekends or only in the evenings.
Yellow Ribbon Program
A voluntary program through which participating public and private institutions can provide veterans and eligible beneficiaries additional institutional aid to cover the costs of tuition and fees at their institutions. The Yellow Ribbon Program is a supplementary program to the Post 9/11 GI Bill coverage of in-state tuition and fees. The Department of Veterans Affairs matches the institutional aid provided beyond the in-state tuition and fees, but to certain limit each year.
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Current Survey Changes

Table 12. Proposed Minor Changes to Institutional Characteristics (IC) Form

Changed instruction/FAQ/screen (where applicable; additions in red, deletions with strikethrough, rewording in blue)

INSTRUCTION CHANGE: Distance education opportunities are is one that uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously.
Requirements for coming to campus for orientation, testing, or academic support services do not exclude a course from being classified as distance education opportunities. Technologies used for instruction may include the following: Internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcasts, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite or wireless communication devices; audio conferencing; and video cassette, DVDs, and CD-ROMs, if the cassette, DVDs, and CD-ROMs are used in a course in conjunction with the technologies listed above.


Distance education course
A course in which the instructional content is delivered exclusively via distance education.


Distance education program
A program for which all the required coursework for program completion is able to be completed via distance education courses.


Distance education levels
Indicate whether you offer distance education courses and/or programs at the undergraduate level and/or graduate level. Please check all that apply. If you do not offer distance education courses and/or programs, please select “Does not offer distance education" at the undergraduate and/or graduate level.


Exclusively distance education programs
Indicate whether or not ALL programs offered by your institution are delivered exclusively via distance education, meaning all the required coursework for program completion is able to be completed via distance education courses.

Institutional characteristics are collected through two survey components: Institutional Characteristics Header and Institutional Characteristics. Institutional characteristics data are the foundation of the entire IPEDS system.

Data collected include:

  • Basic institutional contact information;
  • Student services information;
  • Tuition/fees and other student charges;
  • Control or affiliation;
  • Type of calendar system; and
  • Levels of awards and types of programs offered.
Contact: Roman Ruiz, Survey Director
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