Increasing Equitable College Opportunities and Outcomes, With the Help of Data

Increasing Equitable College Opportunities and Outcomes, With the Help of Data

Mathematica Comments on the National Center for Education Statistics’ Proposed Changes to Postsecondary Education Data Collection
May 03, 2024
Digital image of graduation hat with icons representing data

Mathematica today provided recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for improving data collection from providers of postsecondary education with the aim of increasing equitable college opportunities and outcomes.

Mathematica’s recommendations came in response to NCES’s request for comment regarding proposed changes to the Student Financial Aid (SFA) Survey Component of Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data collection. IPEDS is a system of surveys designed to collect data from all primary providers of postsecondary education, and the data source for public-facing tools like NCES’s College Navigator.

“IPEDS data are vital for monitoring equitable college opportunities and outcomes, which enhances understanding, supports inquiry, and can ultimately lead to positive social change,” wrote Mathematica. “Disaggregating data by gender, race and ethnicity, Pell recipient status, transfer status, and part-time enrollment status can further enhance the utility of these metrics.”

As part of the proposed changes, NCES is considering collecting aid data on additional student categories, including all students (graduate and undergraduate) and all full-time degree/certificate-seeking students. Drawing on its extensive work around postsecondary education programs, including work with IPEDS data, Mathematica made the following recommendations regarding the potential changes to the SFA Survey Component:

  • Collect aid data on additional student categories to foster equitable research through greater understanding of how institutions award aid to different students and to create more opportunities to monitor trends within and between institutions based on sector, mission, institutional category, open admissions policy, and other characteristics.
  • Collect aid data on additional student categories to provide better, more complete, and more transparent information on the costs of attending college – important enhancements that respond to intensifying public scrutiny toward the value of higher education and institutional accountability for serving students educationally, and that improve the functionality and value of IPEDS.

“Accurate, transparent, accessible, and reliable information on institutional student aid awards is essential for enhancing the functionality and value of IPEDS,” Mathematica concluded.