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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas
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Proposal Will Add Pension Questions to IPEDS Finance Survey

November 2, 2015

The current version of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) finance survey does not have specific line items or questions that would allow researchers and other users of finance survey data the ability to quantify the impact of implementing Statement No. 68. Consequently, the Department of Education has requested an emergency remedy to gather additional information as part of the FY15 data collection process.

Public institutions that follow accounting standards set by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) are required to implement Statement No. 68, Financial Accounting and Reporting for Pensions, in FY15. For public institutions or higher education systems that  participate in their state's defined benefit plan (agent or cost sharing), or have their own plan, implementing Statement No. 68 will likely impact expenses, liabilities, resource deferrals, and net position.

ED has proposed adding a new screening question and three new fields related to recognized additional pension expense, liabilities, and deferrals as a result of implementing Statement No. 68 to the IPEDS finance survey. The screening question will ask institutions to indicate whether or not they recognized additional pension expenses as a result of implementing GASB's pension standard. If institutions indicate "yes," they would additionally report:

  1. Additional pension expense (the unfunded expense resulting from Statement No. 68 measurement requirements)
  2. Additional pension liability (as a result of Statement No. 68 measurement requirements)
  3. Additional deferred resources (which is the net result of deferred inflows of resources and deferred outflows of resources recognized as a result of Statement No. 68 requirements)

The goal of the above three questions is to allow ED to collect and properly calculate ongoing per capita costs (cost per full-time enrolled student) with and without additional pension expenses. NACUBO supports the additional questions with the following caveats that will be explained in the industry comment letter:

  • Collecting additional deferred resources (Question 3) should be broken down into two questions (a third and fourth question) because deferred inflows of resources and deferred outflows of resources are unique elements of net position and burden is increased by having to net these distinctive components of net position.
  • The survey collection process should clearly stress:
  1.   If a public institution is part of a higher education system and the system reflects the additional unfunded pension expense, liability, or deferrals (and does not allocate the expense and liability to individual institutions), then no additional reporting is needed by the institution. 
  2. If a public institution is part of a special funding situation and additional unfunded pension expense, liability, or deferrals are reported elsewhere, then no additional reporting is needed by the institution.

NACUBO encourages public institutions to comment or provide feedback for inclusion in the industry comment letter.

Contact

Sue Menditto
Director, Accounting Policy
202.861.2542
E-mail