Enrollment and Completion Databases


Enrollment and completion databases keep track of the number of students who have enrolled in and/or complete a postsecondary program (i.e., obtain a credential). The databases do not publicly report student-level data; rather, they report broader trends occurring at institutions.

Perhaps the best-known enrollment and completion database is the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS is a system of interrelated surveys conducted annually by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. IPEDS gathers information from every postsecondary institution that participates in federal student financial aid programs. As part of these programs, according to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (and subsequent legislative amendments), institutions are required to report data on enrollment, program completion, graduation rates, faculty and staff, finances, institutional prices, and student financial aid. Institutions that provide information each year through IPEDS surveys include research universities, state colleges and universities, private religious and liberal arts colleges, for-profit institutions, community and technical colleges, and non-degree-granting institutions, such as beauty colleges (IPEDS, n.d.).

Data collected by IPEDS surveys are analyzed and made available to students and parents through the College Navigator website. Researchers and others gain access to the data through the IPEDS Data Center (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System [IPEDS], n.d.). College Navigator is an online tool created by the Department of Education and its National Center for Education Statistics that allows consumers to evaluate U.S. colleges that receive Title IV funds. College Navigator includes institutional data on programs offered, retention and graduation rates, prices, aid available, degrees awarded, campus safety, student loan defaults, and accreditation.

The National Student Clearinghouse runs StudentTracker, a nationwide source of college enrollment and degree data. Nearly 3,600 colleges and universities provide enrollment and graduation data to the Clearinghouse. Anyone can use StudentTracker to query and analyze student data from participating institutions, but at a cost. Institutions that participate in the Clearinghouse’s DegreeVerify and EnrollmentVerify services, and report additional data elements requested by the Clearinghouse, can receive StudentTracker at no cost (National Student Clearinghouse, n.d.).

Ecosystem Relationship

Enrollment and completion databases share information from postsecondary institutions that can help learners make informed decisions about where to enroll and what credential programs to pursue.


Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. (n.d.). About IPEDS. National Center for Education Statistics.

National Student Clearinghouse. (n.d.). StudentTracker.

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