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Proposed Changes to IPEDS Finance Surveys

February 22, 2007

News Update (March 6, 2007)

To avoid confusion created by two documents being open for comment at the same time, proposed changes to the IPEDS Finance Survey, previously posted on the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics Web site, have been removed. NACUBO's understanding is that NCES will repost the proposed changes to its website no sooner than May 31, 2007. (See original news story below regarding finance survey changes addressed during a January 2007 technical review panel convened by NCES.)

Further, NCES will provide a six week comment period immediately following the posted announcement about finance survey changes. NACUBO will continue to track this news item and communicate relevant developments to all members.

Original News Story

NACUBO staff and members of its Accounting Principles Council participated in "Expanding and Improving IPEDS Finance Data," a technical review panel (TRP) convened on January 17-18 by the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The panel was charged with finding ways to improve the transparency of higher education finance data and provide better information to consumers. Methods for doing this include collecting better, more comprehensive, financial data from institutions and facilitating the comparability of data collected from institutions that follow the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).

Much of the meeting focused on data-comparability issues. Institutions following the FASB are required to allocate depreciation, plant operation and maintenance, and interest to all functional expense categories, while the GASB has no similar requirement. After much discussion, the panel voted to require all public and independent nonprofit institutions to use consistent functional expense definitions. This proposal will require public institutions (that follow GASB) to allocate depreciation, plant operation and maintenance, and interest to functional expense categories for IPEDS reporting purposes.

Using the revised Finance Survey forms, which are pending approval by the Office of Management & Budget, would be optional for institutions in the 2008-09 collection year and become mandatory thereafter. For more detail about the proposed changes to the IPEDS Finance Survey forms, visit the NCES Web site.

Related to the primary subject matter of expense allocations, the TRP strongly recommended that should Congress require that NCES add cost of instruction per FTE on the College Opportunities Online Locator (COOL) Web site, additional expense information per FTE should also be displayed. Specifically, all expenses related to the cost of education (academic services, student services, institutional support, and research for non-research-intensive institutions) should be provided–per FTE–to ensure that the public has the opportunity to view the cost of college as a whole.

NACUBO plans to comment based on input from its Accounting Principles Council but encourages all members to provide insights for contribution to the comment letter. Comments can also be sent directly to Elise Miller, IPEDS Program Director, at elise.miller@ed.gov and are due by March 16. Please include the following in the e-mail subject line: Improving IPEDS Finance Data-Proposal Comments.

NACUBO Contact: Sue Menditto, director, accounting policy, 202.861.2542.