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Indicator 22: Criminal Incidents at Postsecondary Institutions
(Last Updated: May 2017)

In 2014, about 27,000 criminal incidents on campuses at postsecondary institutions were reported to police and security agencies, representing a 2 percent decrease from 2013, when 27,400 criminal incidents were reported. The number of on-campus crimes reported per 10,000 full-time-equivalent students also decreased, from 18.4 in 2013 to 17.9 in 2014.

Since 1990, postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal student financial aid programs have been required to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, known as the Clery Act. The Clery Act requires institutions to distribute timely warnings about crime occurrences to students and staff; to publicly report campus crime and safety policies; and to collect, report, and disseminate campus crime data. Since 1999, data on campus safety and security have been reported by institutions through the Campus Safety and Security Survey, sponsored by the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education. These reports include on-campus criminal offenses and arrests involving students, faculty, staff, and the general public. Reports on referrals for disciplinary action primarily deal with persons associated formally with the institution (i.e., students, faculty, and other staff).

In 2014, there were 27,000 criminal incidents against persons and property on campus at public and private 2-year and 4-year postsecondary institutions that were reported to police and security agencies, representing a 2 percent decrease from 2013, when 27,400 criminal incidents were reported (table 22.1).80 The number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students81 also decreased, from 18.4 in 2013 to 17.9 in 2014 (table 22.2).

Among the various types of on-campus crimes reported in 2014, there were 13,500 burglaries,82 constituting 50 percent of all criminal incidents (table 22.1). Other commonly reported crimes included forcible sex offenses (6,700 incidents, or 25 percent of crimes) and motor vehicle theft (2,900 incidents, or 11 percent of crimes). In addition, 2,100 aggravated assaults and 1,100 robberies83 were reported. These estimates translate to 9.0 burglaries, 4.5 forcible sex offenses, 1.9 motor vehicle thefts, 1.4 aggravated assaults, and 0.7 robberies per 10,000 FTE students (table 22.2).

On-campus crime patterns can also be examined over time: Between 2001 and 2014, the overall number of reported crimes decreased by 35 percent (figure 22.1 and table 22.1). Although the number of reported on- campus crimes increased by 7 percent between 2001 and 2006 (from 41,600 to 44,500), it decreased by 39 percent between 2006 and 2014 (from 44,500 to 27,000). The number of on-campus crimes reported in 2014 was lower than the number reported in 2001 for every category except forcible sex offenses.84 The number of reported forcible sex crimes on campus increased from 2,200 in 2001 to 6,700 in 2014 (a 205 percent increase).


Figure 22.1. Number of on-campus crimes reported and number per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by selected type of crime: 2001 through 2014

Figure 22.1. Number of on-campus crimes reported and number per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by selected type of crime: 2001 through 2014

1 Includes other reported crimes not separately shown.
2 Unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft.
3 Theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle.
4 Any sexual act directed against another person forcibly and/or against that person’s will.
NOTE: Data are for degree-granting institutions, which are institutions that grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some institutions that report Clery Act data—specifically, non-degree-granting institutions and institutions outside of the 50 states and the District of Columbia—are excluded from this figure. Crimes include incidents involving students, staff, and on-campus guests. Excludes off-campus crimes even if they involve college students or staff. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, Campus Safety and Security Reporting System, 2001 through 2014; and National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2002 through Spring 2015, Fall Enrollment component.


Focusing on more recent data years, the number of reported forcible sex crimes increased by 34 percent between 2013 and 2014 (from 5,000 to 6,700). It should be noted that data on reported forcible sex offenses were collected differently in 2014 than in prior years. In 2014, schools were asked to report the numbers of two different types of forcible sex offenses, rape and fondling, and these were added together to reach the total number of reported forcible sex offenses. In years prior to 2014, schools only reported a total number of reported forcible sex offenses, with no breakouts for specific types of offenses. About 4,400 rapes and 2,300 fondling incidents were reported in 2014.

Increases in FTE college enrollment between 2001 and 2014 as well as changes in the number of on- campus crimes affected the number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 FTE students (see Digest of Education Statistics 2015 for details about college enrollment). Overall, the number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 students decreased from 35.6 in 2001 to 17.9 in 2014 (figure 22.1 and table 22.2). Between 2001 and 2006, both postsecondary enrollment and the number of on-campus crimes increased. However, because enrollment increased at a faster rate than crimes, the number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 students was actually lower in 2006 (33.3) than in 2001 (35.6). Between 2006 and 2014, the number of reported on-campus crimes decreased, enrollment increased, and the number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 students decreased from 33.3 to 17.9. The rates per 10,000 students for all types of reported on- campus crimes except forcible sex offenses were lower in 2014 than in 2001. In the case of forcible sex offenses, the rate increased from 1.9 per 10,000 students in 2001 to 4.5 per 10,000 students in 2014.

In 2014, the number of crimes committed on college campuses differed by type of institution, although to some extent this reflects the enrollment size of the types and the presence of student residence halls. Crimes involving students on campus after normal class hours, such as those occurring in residence halls, are included in campus crime reports, while crimes involving students off campus are not. In 2014, more on-campus crimes overall were reported at institutions with residence halls than at institutions without residence halls (23.8 vs. 5.4 per 10,000 students; table 22.2). Rates for most types of crime were also higher for institutions with residence halls. For example, more burglaries were reported at institutions with residence halls than at institutions without residence halls (12.2 vs. 2.3 per 10,000 students), and more forcible sex offenses were reported at institutions with residence halls than at institutions without them (6.3 vs. 0.6 per 10,000 students).

Although data for different types of institutions are difficult to compare directly because of the differing structures of student services and campus arrangements, there were decreases in the numbers of on-campus crimes at all institution types between 2006 and 2014. The number of on-campus crimes decreased over the period from 20,600 to 13,300 for public 4-year institutions, from 16,900 to 10,100 for nonprofit 4-year institutions, and from 5,700 to 2,900 for public 2-year institutions. The decreases in the number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 students over the period were from 35.5 to 19.5 (public 4-year institutions), from 57.7 to 30.1 (nonprofit 4-year institutions), and from 15.4 to 7.7 (public 2-year institutions; tables 22.1 and 22.2).

As part of the Clery Act, postsecondary institutions are required to report the number of arrests made on college campuses for illegal weapons possession and drug and liquor law violations. In contrast to the decreases in the number of on-campus crimes reported between 2001 and 2011, the number of on-campus arrests reported over that period increased (from 40,300 to 54,300; figure 22.2 and table 22.1). Since 2011, the number of on-campus arrests has decreased, although the number of on-campus arrests in 2014 (44,700) was higher than the number in 2001. The number of arrests for drug law violations increased from 11,900 to 19,200 between 2001 and 2014. There was also an increase in the number of arrests for liquor law violations between 2001 and 2007 (from 27,400 to 35,100); however, the number decreased between 2007 and 2014, and the 2014 figure (24,500) was lower than in any year between 2001 and 2013. There was no clear pattern of change in the number of arrests for weapons possession between 2001 and 2014; the number of arrests ranged from 1,000 to 1,300 each year during this time span.


Figure 22.2. Number of on-campus arrests and number per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of arrest: 2001 through 2014

Figure 22.2. Number of on-campus arrests and number per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of arrest: 2001 through 2014

NOTE: Data are for degree-granting institutions, which are institutions that grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some institutions that report Clery Act data—specifically, non-degree-granting institutions and institutions outside of the 50 states and the District of Columbia—are excluded from this figure. Arrests include incidents involving students, staff, and on-campus guests. Excludes off-campus arrests even if they involve college students or staff. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, Campus Safety and Security Reporting System, 2001 through 2014; and National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2002 through Spring 2015, Fall Enrollment component.


The number of arrests per 10,000 FTE students for weapons possession decreased from 0.9 in 2001 to 0.7 in 2014. In contrast, the number of arrests per 10,000 students for drug law violations increased from 10.2 to 12.8 during this period (figure 22.2 and table 22.2). The number of arrests per 10,000 students for liquor law violations increased between 2001 and 2006 (from 23.5 to 26.2), but decreased between 2006 and 2014 (from 26.2 to 16.3).

In addition to reporting on-campus arrests, institutions report referrals for disciplinary action for cases involving illegal weapons possession, drug law violations, and liquor law violations. Disciplinary action counts only include incidents for which there was a referral for institutional disciplinary action, but no arrest. In 2014, there were 254,200 referrals for disciplinary action for cases involving weapons, drugs, and liquor law violations, with most of the referrals (90 percent) involving violations in residence halls (table 22.1). The largest number of disciplinary referrals (195,300) involved liquor law violations.

Similar to the number of on-campus arrests for drug law violations, the number of disciplinary referrals for these incidents increased between 2001 and 2014 (from 23,900 to 57,400, for a 140 percent increase; figure 22.3 and table 22.1). The number of referrals for liquor law violations also increased from 130,000 in 2001 to 195,300 in 2014 (a 50 percent increase). The number of referrals for illegal weapons possession varied somewhat from year to year with no clear pattern of change, but the number of such referrals in 2014 (1,400) was slightly higher than the number in 2001 (1,300).


Figure 22.3. Number of referrals for disciplinary actions resulting from on-campus violations and number per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of referral: 2001 through 2014

Figure 22.3. Number of referrals for disciplinary actions resulting from on-campus violations and number per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of referral: 2001 through 2014

NOTE: Data are for degree-granting institutions, which are institutions that grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some institutions that report Clery Act data—specifically, non-degree-granting institutions and institutions outside of the 50 states and the District of Columbia—are excluded from this figure. Referrals include incidents involving students, staff, and on-campus guests. Some data have been revised from previously published figures. Excludes cases in which an individual is both arrested and referred to college officials for disciplinary action for a single offense.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, Campus Safety and Security Reporting System, 2001 through 2014; and National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2002 through Spring 2015, Fall Enrollment component.


Part of the increase in the number of disciplinary referrals over time may be associated with increases in the number of students on college campuses over time. In terms of referrals per 10,000 students, however, the number of such referrals per 10,000 students for illegal weapons possession increased from 1.1 to 1.4 between 2001 and 2006, but decreased from 1.4 to 1.0 between 2006 and 2014 (figure 22.3 and table 22.2). The number of referrals per 10,000 students for drug law violations increased between 2001 and 2014 (from 20.5 to 38.1). And while the number of referrals per 10,000 students for liquor law violations increased between 2001 and 2006 (from 111.3 to 141.6), the number per 10,000 students was lower in 2014 than in 2006 (129.8 vs. 141.6).


This indicator has been updated to include 2014 data. For more information: Tables 22.1 and 22.2, and http://ope.ed.gov/security/.


80 Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
81 The base of 10,000 FTE students includes students who are enrolled exclusively in distance learning courses and who may not be physically present on campus.
82 Unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft.
83 Taking or attempting to take anything of value using actual or threatened force or violence
84 The number of negligent manslaughter offenses was the same in 2001 and 2014 (2 incidents).