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Graduation Rates (GR) Glossary

Adjusted cohort
The result of removing any allowable exclusions from a cohort (or subcohort). For the Fall Enrollment component, it is the cohort for calculating retention rate; for the Graduation Rates component, this is the cohort from which graduation and transfer-out rates are calculated; and for the Outcome Measures component, these are the four cohorts (first-time, full-time; first-time, part-time; non-first-time, full-time; or non-first-time, part-time) for which outcomes rates are calculated at 4, 6, and 8 years.
American Indian or Alaska Native
A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community attachment.
Asian
A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Associate's degree
An award that normally requires at least 2 but less than 4 years of full-time equivalent college work.
Bachelor's degree
An award (baccalaureate or equivalent degree, as determined by the Secretary, U.S. Department of Education) that normally requires at least 4 but not more than 5 years of full-time equivalent college-level work. This includes all bachelor's degrees conferred in a 5-year cooperative (work-study) program. A cooperative plan provides for alternate class attendance and employment in business, industry, or government; thus, it allows students to combine actual work experience with their college studies. Also includes bachelor's degrees in which the normal 4 years of work are completed in 3 years.
Bachelor's or equivalent degree-seeking subcohort
In the GR component of IPEDS, a cohort of students who were seeking a bachelor's or equivalent degree upon entry.
Black or African American
A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.
Cohort
A specific group of students established for tracking purposes.
Completers within 150% of normal time
Students who completed their program within 150% of the normal (or expected) time for completion.
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.
Exclusions
Those students who may be removed (deleted) from a cohort (or subcohort). For the Graduation Rates, Outcome Measures, and Fall Enrollment retention rate reporting, students may be removed from a cohort if they left the institution for one of the following reasons: death or total and permanent disability; service in the armed forces (including those called to active duty); service with a foreign aid service of the federal government, such as the Peace Corps; or service on official church missions.
Fall cohort
The group of students entering in the fall term established for tracking purposes. For the Graduation Rates component, this includes all students who enter an institution as full-time, first-time degree or certificate-seeking undergraduate students during the fall term of a given year. 
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.
Full-year cohort
This is a group of students entering at any time during the 12-month period for tracking and reporting. For Graduation Rate (GR), a full-year cohort is from September 1 through August 31 and is used primarily by institutions that offer occupational programs of varying lengths. Students must be full-time and first-time to be considered in the cohort. For Outcome Measures (OM) component, all degree-granting institutions report on a full-year cohort from July 1 through June 30. Students are reported once in one of the four OM cohorts: first-time, full-time; first-time, part-time: non-first-time, full-time; or non-first-time, part-time.
Graduation rate
The rate required for disclosure and/or reporting purposes under Student Right-to-Know Act. This rate is calculated as the total number of completers within 150% of normal time divided by the revised adjusted cohort.
Graduation Rates (GR)
This annual component of IPEDS was added in 1997 to help institutions satisfy the requirements of the Student Right-to-Know legislation. Data are collected on the number of students entering the institution as full-time, first-time, degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students in a particular year (cohort), by race/ethnicity and gender; the number completing their program within 150 percent of normal time to completion; the number that transfer to other institutions if transfer is part of the institution's mission. Prior to 2007, institutions who offered athletically-related student aid were asked to report, by sport, the number of students receiving aid and whether they completed within 150 percent of normal time to completion. Now, these institutions only need to report a URL where the athletic data is located on their website, when available. GR automatically generates worksheets that calculate rates, including average rates over 4 years.
Hispanic/Latino
A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
Initial cohort
A specific group of individuals established for tracking purposes. For the Graduation Rates (GR) and Outcome Measures (OM) components of IPEDS, the initial cohort is defined as the enrollment count before removing revisions and exclusions of all degree/certificate-seeking students who enter in either (1) the fall term of a given academic year, or (2) between September 1st and August 31st of the following year. For the GR component of IPEDS, the initial cohort is only for full-time, first-time students. For OM, all undergraduates are placed in one of four initial cohorts: full-time, first-time; part-time, first-time; full-time, non-first-time; and part-time, non-first time.
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).
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
Nonresident alien
A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who is in this country on a visa or temporary basis and does not have the right to remain indefinitely.
Normal time to completion
The amount of time necessary for a student to complete all requirements for a degree or certificate according to the institution's catalog. This is typically 4 years (8 semesters or trimesters, or 12 quarters, excluding summer terms) for a bachelor's degree in a standard term-based institution; 2 years (4 semesters or trimesters, or 6 quarters, excluding summer terms) for an associate's degree in a standard term-based institution; and the various scheduled times for certificate programs.
Other degree/certificate-seeking subcohort
A subset of students belonging to a GR cohort who were seeking a degree or certificate other than bachelor's degree upon entry.
Race and ethnicity unknown
The category used to report students or employees whose race and ethnicity are not known.
Race/ethnicity
Categories developed in 1997 by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that are used to describe groups to which individuals belong, identify with, or belong in the eyes of the community. The categories do not denote scientific definitions of anthropological origins. The designations are used to categorize U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and other eligible non-citizens.

Individuals are asked to first designate ethnicity as:
   - Hispanic or Latino or
   - Not Hispanic or Latino

Second, individuals are asked to indicate all races that apply among the following:
   - American Indian or Alaska Native
   - Asian
   - Black or African American
   - Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
   - White
Revised cohort
Initial cohort after revisions are made. Cohorts may be revised if an institution discovers that incorrect data were reported in an earlier year.
Student Right-to-Know Act
Also known as the "Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act" (P.L. 101-542), which was passed by Congress November 9, 1990. Title I, Section 103, requires institutions eligible for Title IV funding to calculate completion or graduation rates of certificate- or degree-seeking, full-time students entering that institution, and to disclose these rates to all students and prospective students. Further, Section 104 requires each institution that participates in any Title IV program and is attended by students receiving athletically-related student aid to submit a report to the Secretary of Education annually. This report is to contain, among other things, graduation/completion rates of all students as well as students receiving athletically-related student aid by race/ethnicity and gender and by sport, and the average completion or graduation rate for the four most recent years. These data are also required to be disclosed to parents, coaches, and potential student athletes when the institution offers athletically-related student aid. The Graduation Rates component of IPEDS was developed specifically to help institutions respond to these requirements. See Graduation Rates for the current description of data collected.
Subcohort
A predefined subset of the initial cohort or the revised cohort established for tracking purposes. Degree/certificate-seeking students in the bachelor's degree-seeking group in the Graduation Rates (GR) component and Pell-Grant, non-first-time, part-time students in the Outcome Measures (OM) component are examples of subcohorts. 
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).
Transfer-out rate
Total number of students who are known to have transferred out of the reporting institution within 150% of normal time to completion divided by the adjusted cohort.
Transfer-out student
A student that leaves the reporting institution and enrolls at another institution.
Transfer-preparatory program
A program designed specifically to provide a student with the basic knowledge needed to transfer into a higher level program. For example, this may be the first 2 years of a baccalaureate level program for which the institution does not offer an award, or 2 years of undergraduate study needed for entrance into a first-professional program, or 1 or more years of undergraduate study needed for entrance into health services fields.
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.
White
A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.
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Current Survey Changes

Table 9. Proposed Minor Changes to Graduation Rates (GR) Form

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

NEW FAQ. Who is considered a "recipient" of a Pell Grant or Subsidized Direct Loan? For the purposes of the GR component, a recipient of a Pell Grant or Subsidized Direct Loan is a student who receives and uses that award within their first year of entry into the institution.

CHANGES TO SCREENS, INSTRUCTIONS, AND FAQs: Change wording from "Stafford Loan" to "Direct Loan"

SCREEN CHANGE (Pell/Direct Loan Screens): Add "(within entering year)" next to each row in the Pell/Direct Loan recipients screen: Recipients of a Pell Grant (within entering year); Recipients of a Direct Subsidized Loan (within entering year) that did not receive a Pell Grant; and Did not receive either a Pell Grant of Direct Subsidized Loan (within entering year)

Graduation rate data provide information on institutional productivity and help institutions comply with reporting requirements of the Student Right-to-Know Act (1990) and the Higher Education Act, amended (2008). Graduation rates data are collected for full-time, first-time degree and certificate-seeking undergraduate students.

Data collected include:

  • Number of students entering the institution as full-time, first-time degree or certificate-seeking students in a particular year (cohort), by race/ethnicity and gender;
  • Number of students completing their program within a time period equal to one and a half times (150%) the normal period of time, by race/ethnicity, gender, and Pell status; and
  • Number of students who transferred to other institutions.

Contact: Andrew Mary, Survey Director