Skip Navigation

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

1. Overview

IPEDS collects data annually or biennially through these major components:
  • Institutional Characteristics
  • Completions
  • 12-Month Enrollment
  • Fall Enrollment
  • Graduation Rates
  • 200% Graduation Rates
  • Student Financial Aid
  • Human Resources
  • Finance

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) core postsecondary education data collection program, designed to help NCES meet its mandate to report full and complete statistics on the condition of postsecondary education in the United States. IPEDS collects institution–level data from providers of postsecondary education in the United States (the 50 states and the District of Columbia) and other jurisdictions, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands. IPEDS is a single, comprehensive system that is built around a series of interrelated survey components designed to collect institution–level data in such areas as enrollment, program completions, graduation rates, student financial aid, tuition and fees, faculty, staff, and finances.

Since 1993, completion of the IPEDS survey has been mandatory for all postsecondary institutions with a Program Participation Agreement (PPA) with the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), U.S. Department of Education: that is, institutions that participate in or are eligible to participate in any federal student financial assistance program authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (20 USC 1094[a] [17]). For institutions not eligible to participate in Title IV programs, participation in IPEDS is voluntary. For years prior to 1993, only national–level estimates from a sample of institutions are available for private less–than–2–year institutions.

In 1998, due to several externally mandated changes and additions to IPEDS, developments in technology for data collection and dissemination, emerging issues in postsecondary education, and new and increased expectations for IPEDS, a redesign task force was charged with recommending changes for the system. The primary recommendation was that IPEDS switch from paper forms to a solely web-based reporting system. The IPEDS program was completely redesigned for the 2000–01 survey year, and data collection was converted from a paper–based to a fully web–based system. The web–based survey instruments offer many features to improve the quality and timeliness of the data.IPEDS continues to be an annual survey, with data collection occurring three times per year in the fall, winter, and spring.

IPEDS replaced the Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS) in 1986.HEGIS collected data from 1966 to 1986 from a more limited universe of approximately 3,400 institutions accredited at the college level by an association recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. The transition to the IPEDS program expanded the universe to include all institutions whose primary purpose was the provision of postsecondary education. In 2011–12, this universe included 7,479 institutions (7,394 Title IV institutions, 81 administrative offices, and 4 Title IV–ineligible US Service Academies). The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has collaborated with NCES since 1976 on the collection of data from postsecondary institutions through compliance reports from postsecondary institutions mandated pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, first through HEGIS and then through IPEDS.



The purpose of IPEDS is to collect institution–level data from providers of postsecondary education, primarily all Title IV–eligible universities, colleges, and technical and vocational education providers in the United States and other jurisdictions.


All institutions in the U.S. and other U.S. jurisdictions that have a Program Participation Agreement (PPA) with the U.S. Department of Education to participate in Title IV federal student financial aid programs are required to report data to IPEDS, and are listed as separate entities in IPEDS. These entities are considered the “main campus” and can be identified by an 8-digit OPE ID that starts with 0 and ends with 00; digits 2 through 6 are referred to as the “root.” The Postsecondary Education Participation System (PEPS) is the federal database which keeps track of PPAs, Title IV eligibility, and OPE ID assignments.

In addition, the following can be separate reporting entities in IPEDS, and are referred to as “institutions”:

  • Branch campuses and additional locations that conform to the IPEDS definition of branch campus and that share a PPA. These entities can be tied to the PPA holder through a shared “root” OPE ID.
  • The IPEDS definition of a branch campus is “a campus or site of an educational institution that is not temporary, is located in a community beyond a reasonable commuting distance from its parent institution, and offers full programs of study, not just courses.”
  • Online only divisions of Title IV institutions.
  • Non-traditional educational divisions (such as degree completion programs and other non-standard ventures that are substantially different from the institution’s main business).
  • Large national systems report data on a state-by-state or location-by-location basis.

There are about 7,300 Title IV institutions that report data to IPEDS. Postsecondary institutions that do not participate in Title IV programs can submit data to IPEDS on a voluntary basis. About 200 institutions do this each year.

On a yearly basis, Title IV institutions may be required to complete a reporting map before submitting IPEDS data. An institution’s IPEDS Reporting Map describes how the data from the various additional locations that are listed on the institution’s PPA are accounted for in the institution’s IPEDS reporting. If there are differences between how the institution and additional locations are listed in IPEDS and how they are listed on the PPA, the institution must explain what that means for the institution’s IPEDS reporting. Screens are presented on which to do this. The reporting relationships that can exist are:

  •  The main campus and each additional location on the PPA are listed separately in IPEDS, and report their own data.
  •  The main campus reports combined data for itself and any additional locations that are not listed separately in IPEDS.
  •  Additional locations that are not listed separately have the option of being made “campuses” in IPEDS; a small number of data items are reported for each of these locations, and they are searchable in College Navigator.


The IPEDS program consists of several components that obtain information on who provides postsecondary education (institutions), on who participates in and completes the education (students), what programs are offered, what programs are completed, and the human and financial resources involved in the provision of institution-based postsecondary education. To avoid duplicate reporting and thus enhance the analytic potential of the database, the various IPEDS data elements and component surveys are interrelated. Survey components are tailored to each institution using institutional characteristics. In general, the most extensive data are collected from postsecondary institutions granting baccalaureate and higher degrees; less extensive data are requested from other types of institutions. This feature accommodates the varied operating characteristics, program offerings, and reporting capabilities of postsecondary institutions while yielding comparable statistics for all institutions.

The IPEDS program currently collects information from postsecondary institutions using a combination of survey components. Participation in IPEDS is a requirement for institutions that participate in Title IV federal student financial aid programs, such as Pell grants or Stafford loans. Title IV institutions include 4–year and above colleges and universities, 2–year institutions, and for–profit degree– and non–degree–granting institutions, among others. Because of the requirements for participation in Title IV federal financial aid programs, IPEDS focuses on the institutions designated as Title IV participants. Institutions that do not participate in Title IV programs may participate in the IPEDS data collection on a voluntary basis.

IPEDS collects data three times per year—in the fall, winter, and spring. The Institutional Characteristics, Completions, and 12-month Enrollment surveys are administered in the fall. The Student Financial Aid, Graduation Rates, 200% Graduation Rates, Outcome Measures (starting 2015-16) and Admissions components are collected in the winter. The Fall Enrollment, Finance, Academic Libraries, and Human Resources components are administered in the spring.

Each of these instruments (i.e., components) is described below; the abbreviation for the survey component is also provided after the component name.


Institutional Characteristics (IC). The core of the IPEDS program is the annual Institutional Characteristics component that is collected each fall; it is to be completed by all currently operating postsecondary institutions in the United States and other jurisdictions. As the control file for the entire IPEDS program, IC constitutes the sampling frame for all other NCES surveys of postsecondary institutions. It also helps determine the specific IPEDS screens that are shown to each institution. As well, IC data are used to sort and analyze the data files of the other IPEDS components.

Most IC data are collected for the academic year, which generally extends from September of one calendar year to June of the following year. Specific data elements currently collected for each institution include the institution name, address, telephone number, web address, control or affiliation, calendar system, levels of degrees and awards offered, types of programs, and student services offered. The IC component also collects information on tuition and required fees data and other cost of attendance data which include room and board charges, books and supplies, and other expenses for full-time, first-time students. These data may be for the academic year or for the length of the program. These data are released on NCES’s College Navigator website (available at The College Navigator is designed to help prospective students and their parents understand the differences among colleges and how much it costs to attend college, as well as offer information on student financial aid, programs and services offered, enrollments, graduation rates, and accreditation, among other things.


Completions (C). The Completions component collects data each fall on recognized degree completions in postsecondary education programs by level (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor’s) and on other formal awards, both sub- and post-baccalaureate. These data are collected by race/ethnicity and gender of recipient and by fields of study, which are identified by 6-digit Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes from the NCES publication Classification of Instructional Programs (

The Completions component also collects information on the availability of programs of study that can be completed entirely through distance education by CIP code and award level (beginning in 2012–13) and information on program completers by age, race/ethnicity, and gender (also since 2012–13). OCR provided support to collect Completions data from 1976–2012.

12–Month Enrollment (E12). This annual component of the fall survey administration collects 12–month enrollment data for award levels ranging from postsecondary certificates of less than 1 year to doctoral degrees. The data collection is based on unduplicated headcounts and contact or credit hours, and a standardized, 12–month, full–time–equivalent (FTE) enrollment is computed based on the instructional activity; institutions may report an alternate FTE as well. The unduplicated data include demographic information on race/ethnicity and sex. The collection is based on the previous 12–month reporting period, which is July 1 through June 30. Starting with the 2012–13 data collection, E12 added an item that separately collects information on the full–time–equivalent enrollment for doctor’s and professional–practice instructional activity.


Student Financial Aid (SFA).This winter collection component gathers student financial aid data on several different student populations: undergraduate students; a cohort of full–time, first–time, degree/certificate–seeking undergraduate students; and two subpopulations of that cohort. The financial aid data collected on the subpopulations are used to calculate the institution’s average net price of attendance, as well as average net price of attendance by income category. Data are collected for the previous aid year. Number of students receiving aid and total amount of aid received are collected for different aid types; average amount of aid received by type of aid and percent of students receiving aid by type of aid are calculated. For undergraduates, total grant or scholarship aid, Pell grants, and federal loans are the aid types. For the cohort, aid types are federal grants (Pell grants and other federal grants), state/local government grants or scholarships, institutional grants or scholarships, and loans to students (total loans, Federal loans, other loans). In the 2014–15 academic year, the component began data collection on undergraduate and graduate students receiving military service member and veteran benefits.

Graduation Rates (GR). This winter component collects data on institutions’ initial cohort of full–time, first–time, degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students; on the number of those students completing within 150 percent of the normal time; and on the number of students who transferred to other institutions. Four-year institutions report separately on their bachelor’s degree-seeking students. Data are reported by race/ethnicity and gender. These data allow institutions to disclose and/or report information on the completion or graduation rates and transfer-out rates of their students as required by the Student–Right–to–Know Act. Worksheets automatically calculate rates within the web system. In the 2013–14 collection, for 4–year institutions, the cohort consisted of those students who first started in the 2007–08 academic year, and for 2–year and less–than–2-year institutions, the cohort was those students starting in the 2010–11 academic year.

One hundred percent graduation rates data are also collected; 4–year bachelor’s degree program rates have been reported by 4–year institutions since 1997, and 100% rates have been reported by less–than–4–year institutions since 2008–09.

200% Graduation Rates (GR200). This survey component was added to the spring collection in 2009–10 and is now collected in the winter. It is separate from the GR component so as not to confuse the two different cohorts that are being reported on. The GR200 asks institutions to report additional data on cohort students so that 200% graduation rates can be calculated. Graduation rates at 200 percent of normal time are calculated for full-time, first-time bachelor degree-seeking students at 4-year institutions, and for all full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students at less than 4-year institutions. In 2013–14, for 4-year institutions, the cohort consisted of those students who first started in the 2005–06 academic year, and for 2-year and less-than-2-year institutions, the cohort was those students starting in the 2009–10 academic year.

Outcome Measures (OM). Starting in 2015–16, a new component, Outcome Measures, will start to collect data from degree–granting institutions on 4 degree/certificate–seeking student cohorts (full– and part–time students, both first–time students and non–first–time entering students). Academic reporting institutions will report on fall cohorts; program and hybrid reporters will report on full–year cohorts. Data are not disaggregated by race/ethnicity or gender and no outcome measures data will be collected from non–degree–granting institutions.

For each of the 4 cohorts, the Outcome Measures component will be used to collect a status update at 8 years after the cohort entered the institution using the following categories: received award; did not receive award, still enrolled at reporting institution; did not receive award, subsequently enrolled at another institution; did not receive award, subsequent enrollment status unknown. A total of students who did not receive an award will be calculated. The award information will be collected for both the 6–year and 8–year timeframes and the first cohort that will be reported on will be the 2007 cohort.

Admissions (ADM). This annual component is required of all currently operating Title IV postsecondary institutions in the United States and other areas that do not have an open admissions policy. Eligibility for ADM is determined using a screening question in the Institutional Characteristics component and open admissions institutions will not see the component. Admissions data are collected for the current fall reporting period. Data are collected on admissions requirements, the number of applicants, admitted students, the number of admitted students that subsequently enrolled, and percentiles for ACT and SAT test scores. The number of applicants, admitted students, and enrolled students are disaggregated by gender; enrolled students are further disaggregated by part–time and full–time status. Prior to the 2014–15 data collection cycle, ADM was part of the Institutional Characteristics component. In 2014–15, it became part of the winter data collection.

Fall Enrollment (EF). This spring component collects data on the number of full– and part–time students enrolled in postsecondary institutions in the United States and its other jurisdictions, by level (undergraduate, graduate), race/ethnicity, and gender. The 2014–15 Fall Enrollment component collected student enrollment data for fall 2014. Data were collected on the race/ethnicity and gender of students, attendance status (full– or part–time), and student level (undergraduate or graduate). Institutions were also required to report data by state of residency, while student age reporting was optional. In addition, data were collected on the number of students enrolled exclusively in distance education courses, in any distance education courses, or in no distance education courses. These data were reported by student level, undergraduate degree-seeking status, and student residence location (i.e., in the same state or jurisdiction as the institution; in a different state or jurisdiction as the institution; outside the U.S.; or unknown). The Fall Enrollment component also collected retention rates and student–faculty ratios.

Institutions report: 1) students enrolled in courses creditable toward a degree or other formal award; 2) students enrolled in courses that are part of a vocational or occupational program, including those enrolled in off–campus centers; and, 3) high school students taking regular college courses for credit. An item that asks for the total number of undergraduates in the entering class (including first–time, transfer, and non–degree students) was added in 2001 to provide context for the graduation rates cohort. Full– and part–time, fall–to–fall retention rates for first–time degree/certificate–seeking students are also collected. For bachelor’s degree offering institutions, only bachelor’s students are included in the retention rate.

Age–related  Age–related data are collected in odd–numbered years by student level. Data on the state of residence of first–time students, as well as data on the number of first–time students who graduated from high school in the past 12 months, are collected in even–numbered years (replacing the previously administered Residence of First–Time Students survey). In even–numbered years, four–year institutions are also required to complete enrollment data by level, race/ethnicity, and gender for selected fields of study: Education, Engineering, Law, Biological Sciences/Life Sciences, Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Dentistry, Medicine, and Business Management and Administrative Services. The specified fields and their codes are taken directly from CIP. In the 2012–13 data collection, EF began collecting information on the number of students enrolled in any distance education program and the number of students enrolled exclusively in distance education programs. OCR supported the collection of these data from 1976–2012.

Academic Libraries (AL). This component collects information from degree-granting institutions on library collections, expenditures, and services for the fiscal year. Institutions answer a screening question within the Institutional Characteristics component that determines the requirement to complete the AL component and the correct section to complete. The AL component consists of two sections: Section I is completed by institutions reporting total library expenditures greater than zero, and Section II is completed by institutions with total library expenditures greater than $100,000. Section II collects additional expenditures and interlibrary service information. Section I collects data on the library collections and circulation numbers including physical books, media, digital or electronic books (including government documents), digital or electronic databases, and digital or electronic media. Section II collects data on the number of branch and independent libraries as well as expenditures including library staff wages and fringe benefits, materials and service costs, operations and maintenance expenditures, and interlibrary services. Institutions with no library expenditures were not required to respond to the AL component in the 2014–15 collection.


Human Resources (HR). The administration of the Human Resources component was moved to the spring in the 2012–13 data collection (it had previously been administered in the winter). The Human Resources component collects data that were previously collected by three separate survey components: Employees by Assigned Position, Fall Staff, and Salaries. These were merged into the single HR component beginning with the 2005–06 survey year in order to simplify reporting and ensure data consistency and accuracy; the survey instrument was revised further starting with the 2012–13 data collection.

During collections that start in an even-numbered year (e.g., 2014–15), the reporting of data by race/ethnicity and gender is optional, while during collections that start in an odd-numbered year (e.g., 2015–16), the reporting of these data is required.

Beginning with the winter 2001–02 collection, the Employees by Assigned Position (EAP) survey component, an annual collection proposed by the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative focus group on faculty and staff, was instituted, to unify the Fall Staff and Faculty Salaries data collections. The EAP survey component was optional in the first year but became mandatory in 2002–03.

The Fall Staff survey component is conducted biennially in odd–numbered years and collects data on the numbers of full– and part–time institutional staff and includes demographic information on race/ethnicity and gender. During even-numbered years, reporting Fall Staff data is optional. Between 1987 and 1991, the Fall Staff data were collected in cooperation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). From 1976 through 1991, EEOC collected data on staff through its biennial Higher Education Staff Information (EEO–6) report from all postsecondary institutions within its mandate: that is, institutions that had 15 or more full–time employees. Through the IPEDS program, NCES collected data from all other postsecondary institutions, including all 2–and 4–year higher education institutions with fewer than 15 full–time employees and a sample of less–than–2–year schools. The 1987–91 IPEDS Fall Staff data files contain combined data from the EEO–6 and the IPEDS staff surveys. Beginning in 1993, all schools formerly surveyed by EEOC are surveyed through the IPEDS Fall Staff survey.

The primary purpose of the Salaries portion of the HR survey component is to collect data on the salaries, tenure, and fringe benefits of full–time instructional staff (referred to as instructional faculty prior to the 2005–06 survey year) by contract length, gender, and academic rank. Institutions are excluded from completing the Salaries section if all of their instructional staff (1) are employed on a part–time basis, (2) are military personnel, (3) contribute their services (e.g., members of a religious order), or (4) teach preclinical or clinical medicine.

The current Human Resources survey component categorizes all staff on the institution’s payroll as of November 1 of the collection year, by full- and part-time status, by function or occupational category, and by faculty status and tenure status (if applicable). Institutions with medical schools are required to report their medical school data separately. The medical school questions of EAP are applicable to institutions with Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and/or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) programs only. Employees who are in health disciplines that are not considered part of the medical school are reported in the nonmedical school part of EAP.

Data are also collected on the number of full–time staff by contract length; number of other persons employed full time by primary occupational activity and salary class intervals; part–time employees by primary occupational activity; tenure of full–time faculty by academic rank; and new hires by primary occupational activity. Salary class interval data were collected through 2010–11.

Data are also collected on total salary outlays; total number of full–time instructional staff paid these outlays; and number of staff members with tenure, on tenure track, and not on tenure track. These data are collected by rank (professor, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor, lecturer, no academic rank), gender, and contract length. Fringe benefits data were collected through 2010–11.

In the 2012–13 data collection cycle, the administration of the Human Resources component was moved to the spring and many changes were implemented. For example, the component adopted new occupational categories to align with the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). For all degree granting universities, revisions were made to the definition of primarily instruction category so that instructional activity could be reported separately for for–credit and not–for–credit courses or a combination of them. Revisions were also made to the Salaries section to collect information on salary outlays for full time non–instructional staff by occupational category. For degree granting institutions with 15 or more full time staff, items were added to determine whether the institution had a tenure system; as well, the categories of non–tenure–track faculty were revised to include the following: Multi–Year contract, Annual contract, Less than annual, and Without faculty status.

The Salaries data collection was changed from a biennial to an annual collection in 1990, and data were not collected in 2000.


Finance (F).This component, administered in the spring, collects summary data on each institution’s financial status in the applicable fiscal year. The Finance component has different versions of the form based mainly on control of the institution: public, private nonprofit, and private for–profit. The primary purposes of this annual component are to collect data to describe the financial condition of postsecondary education in the nation; to enable changes in postsecondary education finance to be monitored; and to promote research involving institutional financial resources and expenditures. The 2014–15 Finance component collected financial statistics, such as institutional revenues and expenses, for the most recent fiscal year ending prior to October 2014 (fiscal year 2014).
For public institutions that use Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) reporting standards to prepare their financial statements, data are collected on their statement of net assets, plant, property, and equipment, revenues and other additions, expenses and other deductions, summary of changes in net assets, scholarships and fellowships, and endowment assets. Additionally, certain data are collected for the U.S. Bureau of the Census, including revenue data, expenditure data, and debts and assets.
Private nonprofit institutions and public institutions that use Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) reporting standards to prepare their financial statements report data on their statement of financial position, summary of changes in net assets, student grants, revenues and investment return, expenses by functional and natural classification, and endowment assets. A shortened version of the nonprofit form was developed for private for-profit institutions for use from 1997–98 to 2014–15, and data were collected on balance sheet information, summary of changes in equity, student grants, revenues and investment return, and expenses by function.
A 2–year phase–in period began with the 2008–09 data collection in an effort to implement additional changes that better align the finance reporting of public and private institutions. Since the 2010–11 collection, all public and nonprofit institutions have used the newly-aligned form for reporting.  The data collection instrument for for–profit institutions was further aligned with the not-for-profit instrument starting with the 2014–15 data collection. Private for-profit institutions were required to report more detailed data beginning with 2014–15 data collection. This change was implemented to increase data comparability across institutional sectors.



The IPEDS program replaced the HEGIS program in 1986. The IPEDS survey is separated into 12 components, which correspond to three seasonal reporting periods. The Institutional Characteristics, Completions, and 12-month Enrollment surveys are administered in the fall. The Student Financial Aid, Graduation Rates, 200% Graduation Rates, Outcome Measures, and Admissions components are collected in the winter. The Fall Enrollment, Finance, Academic Libraries, and Human Resources components are administered in the spring.