Penn State updates IPEDS data reporting in accordance with U.S. guidance changes

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Due to a clarification in how the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) defines transfer students, Penn State is adjusting the manner in which it reports enrollment and other data to IPEDS. 

IPEDS, which gathers information on enrollment, employment, expenditures and degrees conferred, and is used by lawmakers, federal agencies, state governments, education providers, professional associations, businesses, news media, and students and parents for compiling and comparing information about higher education institutions. 

Historically, data for each Penn State campus location was reported separately. Starting with IPEDS’s spring 2019-2020 collection cycle, the University began reporting information as one entity under one unit identification number, including University Park, Commonwealth Campuses, the College of Medicine, Great Valley School of Professional Studies, World Campus, Penn State Law and Dickinson Law. The Pennsylvania College of Technology, an affiliate of Penn State, will continue to report its own data to IPEDS. 

The change in reporting was based on IPEDS clarifying its definition of a transfer student to include students in a multi-campus system who move from one institution to another in the same coordinated system. Identifying Penn State students who move from one Penn State campus to another to complete their degree as transfer students would create misleading and invalid measures by showing significantly lower Commonwealth Campus graduation rates and would not accurately reflect the 2+2 plan available to all Penn State students. IPEDS would view current Penn State students who transferred to another Penn State location as having left that institution and therefore could not be counted in the graduation rate for that campus. 

The 2+2 plan is unique to Penn State, allowing students to begin and study at one of Penn State’s 20 undergraduate campuses, then move to another Penn State campus to complete their course of study. Students choose this path for many reasons: some for the chance to stay closer to home, others to save money, while still others for a particular campus environment. Students in the 2+2 plan do not need to reapply to Penn State to change campuses. As part of the initial application process, students indicate the campus where they would like to begin their program and the campus where they would like to complete their program. The selection occurs at the beginning of a students’ study at Penn State because many programs can only be completed at the University Park campus or one of the larger Commonwealth Campuses. After two years of study at the initial campus, students may change their campus location to complete their degree. 

Unlike other institutions, Penn State is not a system, but is accredited as one institution geographically disbursed with one budget, one financial statement, one president and one governing board. 

Moving forward, campus-specific IPEDS data will still be available on the Office of Planning, Assessment and Institutional Research’s Publications and Reports website


Last Updated July 27, 2020