Understanding Finance Data

DATE: August 30, 2017

AUTHOR: Aaron Fernandes

Most national reports and white papers related to postsecondary finance depend on a few key primary sources. The right one to use depends on the question a researcher/analyst is trying to answer. Some sources have detailed information by institution or state, but little data on different types of students. Some are the other way around. Following are examples of postsecondary finance questions with links to more information about the publicly available primary source or sources most appropriate to answer them.

INSTITUTIONAL FINANCE QUESTIONS

Where does an institution or group of institutions get most of its revenue? How much does an institution or group depend on tuition / auxiliares / appropriations / grants / investment or other revenue?

Primary source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

Secondary source: Delta Cost Project at American Institutes for Research

How do states compare in overall spending on higher education over time?

Primary source: State Higher Education Executive Officers Finance Survey

Primary source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

Secondary source: Delta Cost Project at AIR

What are institutions’ sticker prices?

Primary source: Trends in College Pricing (only state and sector averages are public)

Primary source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

How much do institutions charge in tuition compared to fees?

Primary source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

How do institutions’ prices vary by course load (e.g. flat rate, “linear” , or hybrid)?

Primary source: Postsecondary Analytics research file

How much does an institution’s federal research funding come from particular disciplines/agencies?

Primary source: National Science Foundation (WebCASPAR)

What types of research and support programs at postsecondary institutions does the U.S. Department of Education fund?

Primary source: Department of Education

STUDENT FINANCE QUESTIONS

Overall, how do students finance postsecondary education (total cost, income, savings, financial aid, etc.)?

Primary Source: National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS)

Secondary Source: Trends in Student Aid

What states and institutions have the most Pell recipients/dollars?

Primary source: U.S. Department of Education Pell Grant Annual Reports

Primary source: Department of Education Title IV Program Volume Reports

What are the characteristics of Pell grant recipients?

Primary Source: National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS)

What states/institutions have the most federal direct loan students/dollars?

Primary Source: Department of Education Title IV Program Volume Reports

What are the characteristics of student borrowers?

Primary Source:  National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS)

What states/institutions have the most students/dollars receiving veterans’/GI benefits?

Primary Source: Veterans Affairs Benefits Report

How much have students/families in different states saved through 529 plans?

Primary Source: College Savings Plans Network (529 Plan Association)

How much are students working/earning while enrolled?

Primary Source: National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS)

How much are students receiving from parents/family/friends/federal programs

Primary Source: National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS)

How much state student aid is need-based vs. merit-based?

Primary Source: National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP)

How much do different types of students receive in need- or merit-based aid?

Primary Source: National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS)

How much do institutions discount their sticker prices?

Primary Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (financial aid)

TAX EXPENDITURE QUESTIONS

How much do students/families in different states or at different income levels benefit from federal income tax provisions?

Primary source: Internal Revenue Service Form 1040 Statistics

How do different states subsidize postsecondary education through their tax code?

Primary/Secondary source: Pew Charitable Trusts Report on Federal and State Tax Expenditures

DEMOGRAPHIC AND ECONOMIC CONTEXT QUESTIONS

How big is a state’s higher education investment relative to its other spending?

Primary Source: U.S. Census Survey of State and Local Government Finances

How big is a local government’s higher education investment relative to its other spending?

Primary Source: U.S. Census Survey of State and Local Government Finances

How big are states’/institutions’ budgets relative to enrollments of different types of students?

Primary Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

How big are states’ budgets relative to their college-age populations?

Primary Source: U.S. Census American Community Survey

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