Skip Navigation
The NCES Education Demographic and Geographic Estimates (EDGE) program designs and develops information resources to help understand the social and spatial context of education in the U.S. It uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to create custom indicators of social, economic, and housing conditions for school-age children and their parents. It also uses spatial data collected by NCES and the Census Bureau to create geographic locale indicators, school point locations, school district boundaries, and other types of data to support spatial analysis.

Locale Classifications

A locale classification is a general geographic indicator that describes the type of area where a school is located. NCES classifies all territory in the U.S. into four types – Rural, Town, Suburban, and City, and each type is divided into three subtypes based on population size or proximity to populated areas. The classifications rely on standard urban and rural designations defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, and each type of locale is either urban or rural in its entirety. The Locale Lookup map tool provides an easy way to see locales assigned to different locations.

Fringe
Census-defined rural territory that is less than or equal to 5 miles from an urbanized area, as well as rural territory that is less than or equal to 2.5 miles from an urban cluster

Distant
Census-defined rural territory that is more than 5 miles but less than or equal to 25 miles from an urbanized area, as well as rural territory that is more than 2.5 miles but less than or equal to 10 miles from an urban cluster

Remote
Census-defined rural territory that is more than 25 miles from an urbanized area and is also more than 10 miles from an urban cluster

Fringe
Territory inside an urban cluster that is less than or equal to 10 miles from an urbanized area

Distant
Territory inside an urban cluster that is more than 10 miles and less than or equal to 35 miles from an urbanized area

Remote
Territory inside an urban cluster that is more than 35 miles from an urbanized area

Large
Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with population of 250,000 or more

Midsize
Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with population less than 250,000 and greater than or equal to 100,000

Small
Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with population less than 100,000

Large
Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population of 250,000 or more

Midsize
Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population less than 250,000 and greater than or equal to 100,000

Small
Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population less than 100,000

Locale Boundaries

Locale boundaries can be used with a geographic information system (GIS) to assign the NCES locale framework to other types of geographic data. They can also be used to identify places and conditions contained within or across different types of locales. For more information, see the Locale Boundaries file documentation (594 KB).

less
more

Data

User Notes

  1. Geographic codes come from TIGER 2020.
  2. The congressional districts in TIGER 2020 represent the 116th Congress.
  3. TIGER 2020 uses the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) updates to metropolitan and micropolitan delineations as of March 2020.
  4. EDGE relies on principal city designations from OMB and Place boundaries from TIGER/Line to define City locales. In 2020, OMB designated its list of principal cities before the Census Bureau defined its collection of TIGER/Line Place boundaries. As a result, in some instances, 2020 principal cities may not be fully reflected in 2020 TIGER/Line Places or as 2020 City locales.
  5. The population estimates represent the 2019 estimates.
  6. TIGER 2020 Urban Areas and ZCTAs represent the 2010 Census definitions.

Documentation

  1. Geverdt, D. (2015, December). Education Demographic and Geographic Estimates Program (EDGE): Locale Boundaries User’s Manual (NCES 2016-012). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics (1 MB)
  2. Geverdt, D. (2005). Review of NCES school locale tabulation and analysis. Technical Memorandum. Washington, DC. U.S. Census Bureau (814 KB)

Supplemental Indicators

E-Rate Locales

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) administers the E-Rate program to provide discounts to schools and libraries for purchases of telecommunications equipment and services. The program relies on school and district-level urban and rural assignments to determine the discount level. Urban assignments are based on territory that includes all Census-defined Urbanized Areas and all Urban Clusters with a population of 25,000 or more. Rural assignments are based on territory that includes all Census-defined rural territory, as well as Urban Clusters with a population less than 25,000. Although the U.S. Department of Education does not operate the E-Rate program, it serves many of the same schools and school districts that participate in E-Rate. Additional information about the E-Rate program is available at www.usac.org/sl.
E-Rate Locale Boundaries (55 MB)