Trends in College Spending (TCS) Online FAQs
What is the data source for TCS online?
The TCS system presents data from the Delta Cost Project’s IPEDS Database,
which is drawn primarily from the U.S. Department of Education’s
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
All higher education institutions that participate in federal student
financial aid programs are required to submit data to the U.S. Department
of Education each year on enrollments, finance, staffing, and completions.
The Delta Cost Project has compiled this data into a single database,
beginning with data in 1987; the Delta Project has harmonized
(as much as possible) the changes in survey instruments and reporting
standards that have occurred over time. While data for all institutions
is included in the Delta Cost Project IPEDS database, only information
on public and private non-profit institutions is presented in TCS Online.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education assumed responsibility for updating and maintaining the database (beginning with the 2010 data update).
How is TCS Online different from other websites that provide IPEDS data?
TCS-online was designed to provide access to select IPEDS data organized into a set of 6 metrics that we believe are a useful way to analyze patterns and spending in Higher Education. TCS Online is not intended as a tool that provides broad access to all reported IPEDS data, as there are other web-based systems that serve this function (such as the U.S. Department of Education site). And while the Delta Project has published reports with national-level analyses (by Carnegie group and sector) using these 6 metrics, the TCS system now allows users to access to these same metrics for individual institutions, as well as nationally.
How come this data doesn’t seem to match what my institution reported to IPEDS?
In some instances, the Delta Cost Project has adjusted the reported data to allow for more consistent comparisons over time and across different reporting standards (FASB/GASB). The Delta database also includes limited imputations in instances when data was not reported. All financial data in TCS also have been standardized by enrollment, and are reported per full-time equivalent (FTE) student.
What are grouped institutions?
The Delta Database from which TCS data originates is a longitudinal data file dating back to 1987.
In some instances, institutions may have reported some or all of their data with other institutions
(usually at the system level, or with their “main” campus) at some point during the period for which we
have collected data. While this was more prevalent in earlier years than now, to maintain comparability for
analyses over this whole time period, we have grouped together institutions that reported data with another
institution(s) at any point since 1987 - even if they now report separately. These grouped institutions are used
in the national level estimates. However, the grouped institutions shown in the institution-level have been
adjusted so that only those institutions continuing to report together during the 2005-2010 period are shown as grouped; institutions that reported their own data during this 6-year period are now shown separately in the institution-level tables, even if they reported with other institutions prior to 2005.
In some instances, those institutions that are grouped may cross Carnegie categories (particularly if a public “system” includes Research institutions as well as Master’s and Community Colleges, or if a Main campus is a Research institution but its branch campuses are not.) The “grouped institutions file” under the Help tab lists the institutions that have been grouped together. Care should be taken when analyzing the patterns and trends of grouped institutions that cross Carnegie/sector categories.
How are shares calculated?
In the U.S. by Carnegie Group tables, any shares displayed (e.g. student share of costs, instruction share of costs etc.) were first calculated at the institution level, and then the average was computed across institutions. Similarly, in the institutional comparison tables, the mean/median shares presented are the column means/medians for the selected institutions. Calculating the share using the average (or median) data presented in the tables will result in different estimates, but since the unit of analysis is the institution, the most precise estimates are those calculated at the institution level prior to calculating the mean/median.
Is there more recent data available?
TCS Online is updated when the most recent Delta Cost Project Database becomes available from the U.S. Department of Education. The Delta Database is generally updated after the final IPEDS data collectionfor each academic year (e.g. finance survey) has been publicly released.
Using TCS Online
How come you don’t provide analyses by state?
State data is provided for a limited number of variables on the Delta Cost Project website (www.deltacostproject.org/data/state/). There are significant differences in the institutional missions, structures, and revenue/expenditure patterns across different types of institutions (i.e. Public Research, Public Master’s, Private Bachelor’s etc.), and there are also varying representations of these different institutions within each state. Therefore, we do not recommend analyzing cost structures and spending in higher education at the aggregate state level, because it obscures these important differences.
It is appropriate to compare similar types of institutions (for example, public research institutions) across states. To generate this data in TCS Online, you should first select a state, and then select all the public research institutions in that state; the mean displayed at the bottom of the results page would serve as the average for that state. You would then perform the same procedure for a second state you wished to compare. [Note: in some cases data have been aggregated across Carnegie groups (see the above FAQ on “grouped institutions”); this is more problematic in some states than others. See the grouped institution list to determine which states might be most affected).
Can I see data for my peer institutions?
At this time, TCS Online does not automatically generate “peer groups” for selected institutions. Users can select their own institutions for comparison.
Can I export the results from my data analyses?
Your data results can either be exported to a .PDF or and Excel file. At the top of the results page, select your preferred export format from the drop down box, then click on “Export”.