Data Set Definitions
|All definitions related to the financial aid section appear at
the end of the Definitions document.
|Items preceded by an asterisk (*) represent definitions agreed
to among publishers which do not appear on the CDS document but may be
present on individual publishers' surveys.
|*Academic advisement: Plan under
which each student is assigned to a faculty member or a trained adviser, who,
through regular meetings, helps the student plan and implement immediate and
long-term academic and vocational goals.
|Accelerated program: Completion of
a college program of study in fewer than the usual number of years, most
often by attending summer sessions and carrying extra courses during the
regular academic term.
|Admitted student: Applicant who is
offered admission to a degree-granting program
at your institution.
|*Adult student services: Admission
assistance, support, orientation, and other services expressly for adults who
have started college for the first time, or who are re-entering after a lapse
of a few years.
|American Indian or Alaska native: A
person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America and who
maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community
|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nonadmission, placement on waiting list, or application withdrawn (by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 institution.
|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 Vietnam.
|Associate degree: An award that
normally requires at least two but less than four years of full-time
equivalent college work.
|Bachelor's degree: 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 years.
|Black, non-Hispanic: A person having
origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa (except those of Hispanic
|Board (charges): Assume average
cost for 19 meals per week or the maximum meal plan.
|Books and supplies (costs): Average
cost of books and supplies. Do not include unusual costs for special groups
of students (e.g., engineering or art majors), unless they constitute the
majority of students at your institution.
|Calendar system: The method by which an
institution structures most of its courses for the academic year.
Ministry: Religious student organizations
(denominational or nondenominational) devoted to fostering religious life on
college campuses. May also refer to Campus Crusade for Christ, an
interdenominational Christian organization.
and placement services: A range of services,
including (often) the following: coordination of visits of employers to
campus; aptitude and vocational testing; interest inventories, personal
counseling; help in resume writing, interviewing, launching the job search;
listings for those students desiring employment and those seeking permanent
positions; establishment of a permanent reference folder; career resource
|Carnegie units: One year of study
or the equivalent in a secondary school subject.
|Certificate: See Postsecondary award, certificate, or diploma.
|Class rank: The relative numerical
position of a student in his or her graduating class, calculated by the high
school on the basis of grade-point average, whether weighted or unweighted.
|College-preparatory program: Courses
in academic subjects (English, history and social studies, foreign languages,
mathematics, science, and the arts) that stress preparation for college or
|Common Application: The standard
application form distributed by the National Association of Secondary School
Principals for a large number of private colleges who are members of the
Common Application Group.
|*Community service program: Referral
center for students wishing to perform volunteer work in the community or
participate in volunteer activities coordinated by academic departments.
|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 hour.
|Continuous basis (for program enrollment): A calendar system classification that is used by
institutions that enroll students at any time during the academic year. For
example, a cosmetology school or a word processing school might allow
students to enroll and begin studies at various times, with no requirement
that classes begin on a certain date.
|Cooperative education program: A
program that provides for alternate class attendance and employment in
business, industry, or government.
|Cooperative housing: College-owned,
-operated, or -affiliated housing in which students share room and board
expenses and participate in household chores to reduce living expenses.
|*Counseling service: Activities
designed to assist students in making plans and decisions related to their
education, career, or personal development.
|Credit: Recognition of attendance
or performance in an instructional activity (course or program) that can be
applied by a recipient toward the requirements for a degree, diploma,
certificate, or other formal award.
|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 15-week period in a
semester or trimester system or a 10-week period in a quarter system. It is
applied toward the total number of hours needed for completing the
requirements of a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award.
|Cross-registration: A system whereby
students enrolled at one institution may take courses at another institution
without having to apply to the second institution.
|Deferred admission: 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.
|Differs by program (calendar system): A calendar system classification that is used by
institutions that have occupational/vocational programs of varying length.
These schools may enroll students at specific times depending on the program
desired. For example, a school might offer a two-month program in January,
March, May, September, and November; and a three-month program in January,
April, and October.
|Diploma: See Postsecondary award, certificate, or diploma.
|Distance learning: An option for
earning course credit at off-campus locations via cable television, internet,
satellite classes, videotapes, correspondence courses, or other means.
|Doctoral degree: The highest award
a student can earn for graduate study. The doctoral degree classification
includes such degrees as Doctor of Education, Doctor of Juridical Science,
Doctor of Public Health, and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in any field
such as agronomy, food technology, education, engineering, public
administration, ophthalmology, or radiology. For the Doctor of Public Health
degree, the prior degree is generally earned in the closely related field of
medicine or in sanitary engineering.
|Double major: Program in which students
may complete two undergraduate programs of study simultaneously.
|Dual enrollment: A program through
which high school students may enroll in college courses while still enrolled
in high school. Students are not required to apply for admission to the
college in order to participate.
|Early action plan: An admission
plan that allows students to apply and be notified of an admission decision
well in advance of the regular notification dates. If admitted, the candidate
is not committed to enroll; the student may reply to the offer under the
college's regular reply policy.
|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,
|English as a Second Language (ESL): A
course of study designed specifically for students whose native language is
|Exchange student program-domestic: Any
arrangement between a student and a college that permits study for a semester
or more at another college in the United
States without extending the amount of time
required for a degree. See also Study abroad.
|External degree program: A program
of study in which students earn credits toward a degree through independent
study, college courses, proficiency examinations, and personal experience.
External degree programs require minimal or no classroom attendance.
|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.
|First professional certificate (postdegree): An award that requires completion of an organized program
of study designed for persons who have completed the first professional
degree. Examples could be refresher courses or additional units of study in a
specialty or subspecialty.
|First professional degree: An award in
one of the following fields: Chiropractic (DC, DCM), dentistry (DDS, DMD),
medicine (MD), optometry (OD), osteopathic medicine (DO), rabbinical and
Talmudic studies (MHL, Rav), Pharmacy (BPharm, PharmD), podiatry (PodD, DP,
DPM), veterinary medicine (DVM), law (LLB, JD), divinity/ministry (BD, MDiv).
|First-time student: 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 contact hours.
|Freshman: A first-year
|*Freshman/new student orientation: Orientation
addressing the academic, social, emotional, and intellectual issues involved
in beginning college. May be a few hours or a few days in length; at some
colleges, there is a fee.
|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.
|Geographical residence (as admission factor): Special consideration in the admission process given to
students from a particular region, state, or country of residence.
|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 courses.
|Graduate student: A student who holds a
bachelor's or first professional degree, or equivalent, and is taking courses
at the post-baccalaureate level.
|*Health services: Free or low cost
on-campus primary and preventive health care available to students.
|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 state-specified examination.
|Hispanic: A person of Mexican, Puerto
Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin,
regardless of race.
|Honors program: Any special program for
very able students offering the opportunity for educational enrichment,
independent study, acceleration, or some combination of these.
|Independent study: 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.
|In-state tuition: The tuition charged
by institutions to those students who meet the state's or institution's
|International student: See Nonresident alien.
student group: Student groups that facilitate
cultural dialogue, support a diverse campus, assist international students in
acclimation and creating a social network.
|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
|*Learning center: Center offering
assistance through tutors, workshops, computer programs, or audiovisual
equipment in reading, writing, math, and skills such as taking notes,
managing time, taking tests.
|*Legal services: Free or low cost
legal advice for a range of issues (personal and other).
|Liberal arts/career combination: Program
in which a student earns undergraduate degrees in two separate fields, one in
a liberal arts major and the other in a professional or specialized major,
whether on campus or through cross‑registration.
|Master's degree: An award that
requires the successful completion of a program of study of at least the
full-time equivalent of one but not more than two academic years of work
beyond the bachelor's degree.
|Minority affiliation (as admission factor): Special consideration in the admission process for members
of designated racial/ethnic minority groups.
|*Minority student center: Center with
programs, activities, and/or services intended to enhance the college
experience of students of color.
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.
alien: 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.
|*On-campus day care: Licensed day care
for students' children (usually age 3 and up); usually for a fee.
|Open admission: 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.
|Other expenses (costs): Include average
costs for clothing, laundry, entertainment, medical (if not a required fee),
|Out-of-state tuition: The tuition
charged by institutions to those students who do not meet the institution's
or state's residency requirements.
|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.
|*Personal counseling: One-on-one or
group counseling with trained professionals for students who want to explore
personal, educational, or vocational issues.
|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 requirements-
|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
|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 hours.
|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 for-profit institution: A
private institution in which the individual(s) or agency in control receives
compensation, other than wages, rent, or other expenses for the assumption of
|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 institution.
|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.
|Quarter calendar system: A
calendar system in which the academic year consists of three sessions called
quarters of about 12 weeks each. The range may be from 10 to 15 weeks. There
may be an additional quarter in the summer.
|Race/ethnicity: 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
|Religious affiliation/commitment (as admission factor): Special consideration given in the admission process for
affiliation with a certain church or faith/religion, commitment to a
religious vocation, or observance of certain religious tenets/lifestyle.
|*Religious counseling: One-on-one or
group counseling with trained professionals for students who want to explore
religious problems or issues.
|*Remedial services: Instructional
courses designed for students deficient in the general competencies necessary
for a regular postsecondary curriculum and educational setting.
|Required fees: Fixed sum charged
to students for items not covered by tuition and required of such a large
proportion of all students that the student who does NOT pay is the
exception. Do not include application fees or optional fees such as lab fees
or parking fees.
|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
|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 recommendations.
|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
|Student-designed major: A program of
study based on individual interests, designed with the assistance of an
|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.
|Talent/ability (as admission factor): Special
consideration given to students with demonstrated talent/abilities in areas
of interest to the institution (e.g., sports, the arts, languages, etc.).
|Teacher certification program: Program
designed to prepare students to meet the requirements for certification as
teachers in elementary, middle/junior high, and secondary schools.
|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.
|Trimester calendar system: An
academic year consisting of 3 terms of about 15 weeks each.
|Tuition: Amount of money charged to
students for instructional services. Tuition may be charged per term, per
course, or per credit.
|*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.
|*Veteran's counseling: 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 educational performance.
|Volunteer work (as admission factor): Special consideration given to students for activity done
on a volunteer basis (e.g., tutoring, hospital care, working with the elderly
or disabled) as a service to the community or the public in general.
|Wait list: List of students who meet
the admission requirements but will only be offered a place in the class if
space becomes available.
|Weekend college: A program that allows
students to take a complete course of study and attend classes only on
|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).
|*Women's center: Center with programs,
academic activities, and/or services intended to promote an understanding of
the evolving roles of women.
|Work experience (as admission factor): Special consideration given to students who have been
employed prior to application, whether for relevance to major, demonstration
of employment-related skills, or as explanation of student's academic and
|Financial Aid Definitions
|Awarded aid: The dollar amounts
offered to financial aid applicants.
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.
aid applicant: Any applicant who submits any one of the
institutionally required financial aid applications/forms, such as the
|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.
scholarships and grants: Endowed scholarships,
annual gifts and tuition funded grants for which the institution determines
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 noninstitutional student aid (grants, jobs,
|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
|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 need-based:
|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 awards.