The post-secondary enrollment tabulations are based on the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) fall enrollment data (NCES, 2003a). The U.S. Department of Education reports IPEDS enrollment figures in the annual Digest of Education Statistics and it is the only national data set with enrollment figures at the institutional level of detail. The IPEDS is not a sample of institutions, but rather an administrative data collection from the universe of institutions that participate in Title IV federal student financial aid programs. Post-secondary institutions that do not participate in Title IV programs may submit data to the IPEDS. Following NCES practice, we restricted enrollment to post-secondary institutions participating in Title IV. Institutions in outlying areas of the United States are not included.
This report’s analyses are based on “line 1” enrollment or enrollment for “full-time, firsttime, first-year degree-seeking undergraduates.” In the fall 2001 enrollment data, 5,814 post-secondary institutions reported enrollment for full-time, first-time, freshmen undergraduates. We do not include all fall 2001 postsecondary institutions reporting line 1 enrollment. 4,856 institutions of the 5,814 institutions also reported line 1 enrollment in the fall 1996, fall 1997 and fall 2000 IPEDS data. The institutions that are not included did not exist in earlier years, did not participate in Title IV programs, or simply did not report line 1 enrollment in all four years. As the following table documents, limiting the analysis to a core set of IPEDS institutions that reported in all four years eliminates about 100,000 full-time, first-time freshmen in fall 2001. Most of the institutions and students are in the non-degree-granting sector:
Although we analyze enrollment among a fixed set of 4,856 postsecondary institutions, the status of these institutions may change. The institutional characteristics file of the IPEDS records the degree-granting status, level and control of the institution. It was found that 242 of the 4,856 postsecondary institutions altered their characteristics between 1996 and 2001:
The National Center for Education Statistics has been collecting fall enrollment data since at least 1966 as part of the IPEDS and its predecessor, the Higher Education General Information Survey. In 1996 the NCES changed the reporting universe from higher education institutions as defined by accreditation status to postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV programs (NCES, 1998). Comparable data on fall enrollment are therefore not available before 1996.
Some of the key findings reported in the text are based on first-time, full-time enrollment by type of institution in California, New York, Arizona, New Jersey, Florida, Texas and Illinois. The table below reports fall 1996 enrollment, fall 2001 enrollment, and the change in enrollment in these states.