The IPEDS surveys provide a wealth of national‑, state‑, and institution‑level data for analyzing the condition of postsecondary education institutions. For example, the data can be used (with the earlier HEGIS data) to describe long‑term trends in higher education. NCES uses the IPEDS data in annual reports to Congress on the condition of postsecondary education, statistical digests, profiles of higher education in the states, and other publications. In addition, many requests for information based on the IPEDS surveys are received each year from Congress, federal agencies and officials, state agencies and officials, education associations, individual institutions, the media, and the general public. Federal program staffers use the IPEDS data to address various policy issues. State policymakers use the IPEDS data for planning purposes and comparative analysis. Institutional staffers use the data for peer analysis.
The IPEDS data respond to a wide range of specific educational issues and public concerns. Policymakers and researchers can analyze the types and numbers of postsecondary institutions; the number of students, graduates, first‑time students, and graduate and professional students by race/ethnicity and gender; the status of postsecondary vocational education programs; the number of individuals trained in certain occupational and vocational fields by race/ethnicity, gender, and level; the resources generated by postsecondary institutions; patterns of expenditures and revenues of institutions; changes in tuition and fees charged and student financial aid received; completions by type of program, level of award, race/ethnicity, and gender; faculty composition and salaries; and many other topics of interest.
The IPEDS universe also provides the institutional sampling frame used in all NCES postsecondary surveys. For example, the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) uses the IPEDS institutional universe for its first‑stage sample and relies on IPEDS data to weight its second‑stage sample.