Common Data Set definitions
B C D E
F G H I
J K L M N O
P Q R S
T U V W X Y Z
Applicant (first-time, first year): An individual who
has fulfilled the institution's requirements to be considered for
admission (including payment or waiving of the application fee, if any)
and who has been notified of one of the following actions: admission,
nonadmission, placement on waiting list, or application withdrawn (by
applicant or institution).
Application fee: That amount of money that an
institution charges for processing a student's application for
acceptance. This amount is not creditable toward tuition and required
fees, nor is it refundable if the student is not admitted to the
Asian or Pacific Islander: A person having origins in
any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian
Subcontinent, or Pacific Islands. This includes people from China,
Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands, American Samoa, India, and
Associate degree: An award that normally requires at
least two but less than four years of full-time equivalent college work.
An award (baccalaureate or equivalent degree, as determined by the
Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education) that normally requires at
least four years but not more than five years of full-time equivalent
college-level work. This includes ALL bachelor's degrees conferred in
a five-year cooperative (work-study plan) program. (A cooperative plan
provides for alternate class attendance and employment in business,
industry, or government; thus, it allows students to combine actual work
experience with their college studies.) Also, it includes bachelor's
degrees in which the normal four years of work are completed in three
Black, non-Hispanic: A person having origins in any of
the black racial groups of Africa (except those of Hispanic origin).
Commuter: A student who lives off
campus in housing that is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with
the college. This category includes students who commute from home and
students who have moved to the area to attend college.
Contact hour: A unit of measure that represents an hour
of scheduled instruction given to students. Also referred to as clock
Credit course: A course that, if successfully
completed, can be applied toward the number of courses required for
achieving a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award.
Credit hour: A unit of measure representing an hour (50
minutes) of instruction over a 16-week period in a semester.
The practice of permitting admitted students to postpone enrollment,
usually for a period of one academic term or one year.
Degree: An award conferred by a college, university, or
other postsecondary education institution as official recognition for
the successful completion of a program of studies.
Degree-seeking students: Students enrolled in courses
for credit who are recognized by the institution as seeking a degree or
formal award. At the undergraduate level, this is intended to include
students enrolled in vocational or occupational programs.
Distance learning: An option for earning course credit
at off-campus locations via cable television, internet, satellite
classes, videotapes, correspondence courses, or other means.
Double major: Program in which students may complete
two undergraduate programs of study simultaneously.
Early admission: A policy under which
students who have not completed high school are admitted and enroll full
time in college, usually after completion of their junior year.
Early decision plan: A plan that permits students to
apply and be notified of an admission decision (and financial aid offer
if applicable) well in advance of the regular notification date.
Applicants agree to accept an offer of admission and, if admitted, to
withdraw their applications from other colleges. There are three
possible decisions for early decision applicants: admitted, denied, or
not admitted but forwarded for consideration with the regular applicant
pool, without prejudice.
English as a Second Language (ESL):
A course of study designed specifically for students whose native
language is not English.
Extracurricular activities (as admission factor):
Special consideration in the admissions process given for participation
in both school and nonschool-related activities of interest to the
college, such as clubs, hobbies, student government, athletics,
performing arts, etc.
A student attending any institution for the first time at the level
enrolled. Includes students enrolled in the fall term who attended a
postsecondary institution for the first time at the same level in the
prior summer term. Also includes students who entered with advanced
standing (college credit earned before graduation from high school).
First-time, first-year (freshman) student:
A student attending any institution for the first time at the
undergraduate level. Includes students enrolled in the fall term who
attended college for the first time in the prior summer term. Also
includes students who entered with advanced standing (college credits
earned before graduation from high school).
First-year student: A student who has completed less
than the equivalent of 1 full year of undergraduate work; that is, less
than 30 semester hours (in a 120-hour degree program) or less than 900
Freshman: A first-year undergraduate student.
Full-time student (undergraduate):
A student enrolled for 12 or more semester credits, 12 or more quarter
credits, or 24 or more contact hours a week each term.
Grade-point average (academic high school GPA):
The sum of grade points a student has earned in secondary school divided
by the number of courses taken. The most common system of assigning
numbers to grades counts four points for an A, three points for a B, two
points for a C, one point for a D, and no points for an E or F.
Unweighted GPA's assign the same weight to each course. Weighting
gives students additional points for their grades in advanced or honors
Graduate student: A student who holds a bachelor's or
equivalent, and is taking courses at the post-baccalaureate level.
High school diploma or recognized equivalent:
A document certifying the successful completion of a prescribed
secondary school program of studies, or the attainment of satisfactory
scores on the Tests of General Educational Development (GED), or another
Hispanic: A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban,
Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin,
regardless of race.
Academic work chosen or designed by the student with the approval of the
department concerned, under an instructor's supervision, and usually
undertaken outside of the regular classroom structure.
International student: See nonresident alien.
Internship: Any short-term, supervised work experience
usually related to a student's major field, for which the student
earns academic credit. The work can be full- or part-time, on- or
off-campus, paid or unpaid.
An award that requires the successful completion of a program of study
of generally one or two full-time equivalent academic years of work
beyond the bachelor's degree.
Model United Nations: A simulation activity focusing on
conflict resolution, globalization, and diplomacy. Assuming roles as
foreign ambassadors and "delegates," students conduct research,
engage in debate, draft resolutions, and may participate in a national
Model UN conference.
A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who
is in this country on a visa or temporary basis and does not have the
right to remain indefinitely.
Admission policy under which virtually all secondary school graduates or
students with GED equivalency diplomas are admitted without regard to
academic record, test scores, or other qualifications.
Part-time student (undergraduate):
A student enrolled for fewer than 12 credits per semester or quarter, or
fewer than 24 contact hours a week each term.
Post-baccalaureate certificate: An award that requires
completion of an organized program of study requiring 18 credit hours
beyond the bachelor's; designed for persons who have completed a
baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic
degrees carrying the title of master.
Post-master's certificate: An award that requires
completion of an organized program of study of 24 credit hours beyond
the master's degree but does not meet the requirements of academic
degrees at the doctoral level.
Postsecondary award, certificate, or diploma:
Includes the following three IPEDS definitions for postsecondary awards,
certificates, and diplomas of varying durations and credit/contact hour
less than 1 academic year: Requires completion of an organized program
of study at the postsecondary level (below the baccalaureate degree) in
less than 1 academic year (2 semesters or 3 quarters) or in less than
900 contact hours by a student enrolled full-time.
At least 1 but less than 2 academic years: Requires completion of an
organized program of study at the postsecondary level (below the
baccalaureate degree) in at least 1 but less than 2 full-time equivalent
academic years, or designed for completion in at least 30 but less than
60 credit hours, or in at least 900 but less than 1,800 contact hours.
At least 2 but less than 4 academic years: Requires completion of an
organized program of study at the postsecondary level (below the
baccalaureate degree) in at least 2 but less than 4 full-time equivalent
academic years, or designed for completion in at least 60 but less than
120 credit hours, or in at least 1,800 but less than 3,600 contact
Private institution: An educational institution
controlled by a private individual(s) or by a nongovernmental agency,
usually supported primarily by other than public funds, and operated by
other than publicly elected or appointed officials.
Private nonprofit institution: A private institution in
which the individual(s) or agency in control receives no compensation,
other than wages, rent, or other expenses for the assumption of risk.
These include both independent nonprofit schools and those affiliated
with a religious organization.
Proprietary institution: See Private for-profit
Public institution: An educational institution whose
programs and activities are operated by publicly elected or appointed
school officials, and which is supported primarily by public funds.
Category used to describe groups to which individuals belong, identify
with, or belong in the eyes of the community. The categories do not
denote scientific definitions of anthropological origins. A person may
be counted in only one group.
Race/ethnicity unknown: Category used to classify
students or employees whose race/ethnicity is not known and whom
institutions are unable to place in one of the specified racial/ethnic
Resident alien or other eligible non-citizen:
A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who
has been admitted as a legal immigrant for the purpose of obtaining
permanent resident alien status (and who holds either an alien
registration card [Form I-551 or I-151], a Temporary Resident Card [Form
I-688], or an Arrival-Departure Record [Form I-94] with a notation that
conveys legal immigrant status, such as Section 207 Refugee, Section 208
Asylee, Conditional Entrant Parolee or Cuban-Haitian).
Room and board (charges) - on campus:
Assume double occupancy in institutional housing and 19 meals per week
(or maximum meal plan).
Secondary school record (as admission factor): Information maintained by
the secondary school that may include such things as the student's
high school transcript, class rank, GPA, and teacher and counselor
Semester calendar system:
A calendar system that consists of two semesters during the academic
year with about 16 weeks for each semester of instruction. There may be
an additional summer session.
Study abroad: Any arrangement by which a student
completes part of the college program studying in another country. Can
be at a campus abroad or through a cooperative agreement with some other
U.S. college or an institution of another country.
Summer session: A summer session is shorter than a
regular semester and not considered part of the academic year. It is not
the third term of an institution operating on a trimester system or the
fourth term of an institution operating on a quarter calendar system.
The institution may have 2 or more sessions occurring in the summer
months. Some schools, such as vocational and beauty schools, have
year-round classes with no separate summer session.
Teacher certification program:
Program designed to prepare students to meet the requirements for
certification as teachers in elementary, middle/junior high, and
Transfer applicant: An individual who has fulfilled the
institution's requirements to be considered for admission (including
payment or waiving of the application fee, if any) and who has
previously attended another college or university and earned
Transfer student: A student entering the institution
for the first time but known to have previously attended a postsecondary
institution at the same level (e.g., undergraduate). The student may
transfer with or without credit.
Transportation (costs): Assume two round trips to
student's hometown per year for students in institutional housing or
daily travel to and from your institution for commuter students.
Tuition: Amount of money charged to students for
instructional services. Tuition may be charged per term, per course, or
Tutoring: May range from one-on-one tutoring in
specific subjects to tutoring in an area such as math, reading, or
writing. Most tutors are college students; at some colleges, they are
specially trained and certified.
Unit: A standard of measurement
representing hours of academic instruction (e.g., semester credit,
quarter credit, contact hour).
Undergraduate: A student enrolled in a four- or
five-year bachelor's degree program, an associate degree program, or a
vocational or technical program below the baccalaureate.
Helps veterans and their dependents obtain benefits for their selected
program and provides certifications to the Veteran's Administration.
May also provide personal counseling on the transition from the military
to a civilian life.
Visually impaired: Any person whose sight loss is not
correctable and is sufficiently severe as to adversely affect
Wait list: List of students who meet
the admission requirements but will only be offered a place in the class
if space becomes available.
White, non-Hispanic: A person having origins in any of
the original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East (except
those of Hispanic origin).
Financial aid definitions
External scholarships and grants:
Scholarships and grants received from outside (private) sources that
students bring with them (e.g., Kiwanis, National Merit scholarships).
The institution may process paperwork to receive the dollars, but it has
no role in determining the recipient or the dollar amount awarded.
Financial aid applicant: Any applicant who submits any
one of the institutionally required financial aid applications/forms,
such as the FAFSA.
Indebtedness: Aggregate dollar amount borrowed through
any loan program (federal, state, subsidized, unsubsidized, private,
etc.; excluding parent loans) while the student was enrolled at an
institution. Student loans co-signed by a parent are assumed to be the
responsibility of the student and should be included.
Institutional scholarships and grants:
Endowed scholarships, annual gifts and tuition funded grants for which
the institution determines the recipient.
Financial need: As determined by your institution using
the federal methodology and/or your institution's own standards.
Need-based aid: College-funded or college-administered
award from institutional, state, federal, or other sources for which a
student must have financial need to qualify. This includes both
institutional and non-institutional student aid (grants, jobs, and
Need-based scholarship or grant aid:
Scholarships and grants from institutional, state, federal, or other
sources for which a student must have financial need to qualify.
Need-based self-help aid: Loans and jobs from
institutional, state, federal, or other sources for which a student must
demonstrate financial need to qualify.
Non-need-based scholarship or grant aid:
Scholarships and grants, gifts, or merit-based aid from institutional,
state, federal, or other sources (including unrestricted funds or gifts
and endowment income) awarded solely on the basis of academic
achievement, merit, or any other non-need-based reason. When reporting
questions H1 and H2, non-need-based aid that is used to meet need should
be counted as need-based aid.
Note: Suggested order of precedence for counting non-need money as
Non-need institutional grants
Non-need tuition waivers
Non-need athletic awards
Non-need federal grants
Non-need state grants
Non-need outside grants
Non-need student loans
Non-need parent loans
Non-need-based self-help aid:
Loans and jobs from institutional, state, or other sources for which a
student need not demonstrate financial need to qualify.
Work study and employment: Federal and state work study
aid, and any employment packaged by your institution in financial aid