Since its original development in the 1980s, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) has collected institution-level data from all primary providers of postsecondary education to generate information on trends at the national, state, and institutional levels. IPEDS is the major postsecondary education data collection program within the U.S. Department of Education, and encompasses all postsecondary institutions and educational organizations, both public and private, that provide education as their primary purpose.
Sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), IPEDS was implemented to help NCES meet its mandate to report full and complete statistics on the condition of postsecondary education in the United States. IPEDS provides NCES with the basic data needed to describe the size of the postsecondary system in terms of students enrolled, staff employed, dollars expended, and degrees earned. As of the Fall of 2007, the IPEDS universe contained approximately 6,800 Title-IV participating institutions, and approximately 200 non-Title-IV institutions that participate voluntarily.
In 2000, IPEDS was redesigned to provide for web-based transmission of information, completely replacing the paper-and-pencil administration that had been used for more than a decade. The IPEDS data collection runs year-round, with a total of eight different survey components being active at different times of the year. Institutions complete the surveys via the web-based data collection system, or they can upload flat/ascii data files to complete their data submission requirements. Alternatively, they can do some of each by manually completing some survey components while uploading data for other survey components. In some cases, state agencies provide some or all of the data for many institutions within their state using the file upload option.
More information about IPEDS can be found at http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds.