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Students and parents, as well as college and university ranking publications, rely on your information to assess and compare schools. Submit your best quality data to build an accurate profile.


IPEDS Data Matter: Improve Collection at Your Higher Education Institution

  • Jeff Aalbers
  • 5/22/2019

If your higher education institution receives Title IV federal financial aid, you are required to complete the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) surveys each year. While the process may be somewhat tedious for your college or university, improving your data collection and submission process can help you reduce the total time commitment, avoid compliance issues, and save money. And it’s actually worth the effort; the database yields a lot of useful information. By reviewing the IPEDS data collection and submission process, your institution can ensure an accurate school profile for prospective students, researchers, and institutional ranking organizations.

How IPEDS data are used

More than 7,500 institutions complete IPEDS surveys each year. Congress, federal agencies, state governments, education providers, professional associations, private businesses, media outlets, and students and parents rely on IPEDS data for basic institution information.

Online services that use IPEDS data include:

  • IPEDS Find-Your-College — A tool for students and parents to search, view, and compare college statistics
  • IPEDS Use-the-Data (formerly the IPEDS Data Center or IPEDS Peer Analysis System) — A warehouse of IPEDS survey data used as a resource for researchers and the media to analyze trends in the higher education industry
  • College Navigator — A resource for students and parents for broad institutional profiles
  • College Scorecard — a resource for students and parents to find and compare information on schools, including average annual cost, graduation rate, and average salary after attending
  • College Affordability and Transparency Center — A link to College Scorecard, Net Price Calculator Center, College Navigator, and others
  • US Department of Education (ED) College Financing Plan (formerly the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet) — A standardized award letter for each institution which includes specific IPEDS information in your institutional profile

IPEDS data are used for a variety of initiatives including various institutional rankings projects, college guide books, national studies, and the annual Data Feedback Report, which summarizes and compares data among peer institutions.

Submit your best quality data

Because IPEDS data help people make decisions about assessing or attending your college or university, your institution should take care to collect and submit the best quality information.

  • Review — Data entry errors are the most common mistake with IPEDS surveys. These can occur as they are transferred from your systems into the IPEDS survey website or as originally entered into your data student information system. Compare and review data wherever it is entered to ensure it is accurate and consistent.
  • Support — Each institution has a designated IPEDS “keyholder” who is tasked with coordinating all aspects of data submission, including arranging access for additional data entry users, compiling the necessary data for each survey, submitting survey data accurately and on time, and locking each survey. The keyholder needs support from institutional leaders to manage data collection from several campus offices within the required timeframe.
  • Communicate — It is important to promote communication among departments. Early departmental deadlines on IPEDS survey requirements allows the keyholder additional time to review the data and resolve any validation errors.

Avoid noncompliance penalties

Each year, the Office of Federal Student Aid issues fine notices to institutions for not completing their IPEDS surveys in a thorough, accurate, or timely manner. Other institutions are sent warning letters. For more serious or repeated violations, there may be additional administrative actions such as a limitation, suspension, or termination of eligibility for Title IV HEA programs.

When your college or university acknowledges the value of IPEDS data and shores up collection and submission processes, compliance becomes second-nature, and fines and warnings are easily avoided.

How we can help

CLA’s higher education professionals can help your administration evaluate current IPEDS data collection policies and procedures. We can identify inefficiencies in your process and help develop streamlined data-gathering methods that work with your existing systems and processes and ensure accurate, high-quality information.