This page includes a description and timeline for the changes that have been made to either the College Scorecard tool or to the underlying data. Check back for updates to learn more about the updates and improvements we have made.
In January 2017, the Department updated three data elements that appear on the consumer website and/or the downloadable data files/API with more recent data values:
Currently Operating Status Flag
Heightened Cash Monitoring 2 Flag
The Department also made corrections to three elements, improving data quality:
The OPEID of two institutions now correctly identifies the institution as the main campus (as opposed to a branch campus)
The flag indicating that an institution is a main campus was removed for five institutions across eight years of data, correctly identifying them as branch campuses
Repayment rates were recalculated for all institutions across all years of data.
After identifying an error in the code that generates repayment rates, the Department fixed the error and recalculated all repayment rates and replaced the previously published repayment rate data values with revised values. The error was a technical one in the coding that caused undercounting of some borrowers who had not reduced their balances, and therefore inflated repayment rates for almost all schools. This revision includes all repayment rate data values in all of the merged data files and all versions of repayment rates including repayment rates for each repayment rate cohort, the 1-, 3-, 5-, 7-year repayment rates, and all repayment rates disaggregated by demographic category (e.g. first-generation status, gender, etc.). The relative difference—that is, whether schools fall above, about, or below average— is modest; over 90 percent of institutions on the College Scorecard tool do not change categories from the previously published to the new rates. However, in some cases, the nominal differences are significant.
The Department also updated the data dictionary to resolve an issue that prevented the repayment rate data elements and one additional data element, describing the share of students with family incomes between $48,001-$75,000, from being accessible from the API. In prior releases, these elements were only available in the downloadable data files. In addition, the Department resolved a data dictionary labeling issue on the description for low income students by independent/dependent status.
Consumer Website: In September 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) updated the College Scorecard consumer website with an annual refresh that includes newer, updated data for virtually all elements. Please note that the Department made a minor change to the methodology for calculating the median debt presented on the website. See the description for median loan debt below for more details. In addition, the Department made some changes to how data are presented on the consumer website. Key changes include:
Presenting completion rates as graduating within 150% of time for all institutions regardless of institutional characteristics. In contrast, the previous consumer website version presented completion rates of either 150% or 200% depending on whether the institution was a four-year institution or a two-year institution, respectively.
Identifying minority-serving institutions (MSIs) in the specialized mission category based on the institution’s eligibility to apply for Department MSI grants. In contrast, the previous consumer website version presented only recent grant recipients as MSIs.
Downloadable Data Files and API: In addition to providing newer, updated data in the College Scorecard downloadable data files and API, the Department made minor changes in the methodology of how data values were calculated. In some cases, the Department recalculated data values and replaced previously published data values. Key changes include:
NSLDS derived data elements:
To improve data quality and to better protect individual privacy, many NSLDS-derived data elements, including those describing earning cohorts, have been subject to statistical imputation and minor data improvement recalculations. Many NSLDS-generated data values previously published in the previous data files have been replaced with recalculated data values.
In addition, the Department recalculated and replaced earnings cohort data previously calculated by the Treasury Department. These recalculated data elements include:
The share of female students (FEMALE), students over 23 at entry (AGEGE24), married students (MARRIED), dependent students (DEPENDENT), veteran students (VETERAN); and first-generation students (FIRST_GEN1).
The average and median family income of students (FAMINC and MD_FAMINC) and separately of independent students (FAMINC_IND)2;
In the previous version of Scorecard, MSIs were designated as recent MSI grantees. In contrast, MSI indicators in the September 2016 data release (except HBCU) replace the earlier measures and instead are derived from the Eligibility Matrix3 constructed by the Department. The Matrix classifies eligibility on 19 distinct grant programs. The below bullets indicate the correspondence between the Scorecard indicators and the columns of the Matrix:
AANAPII: AANAPISI Elig or AANAPISI-F Elig
ANNHI: ANNH Elig or ANNH-F Elig
HSI: HSI Elig or HSI Stem Elig
NANTI: NASNTI Elig or NASNTI-F Elig
PBI: PBI Comp or PBI Mand
TRIBAL: TCCU Elig
Median Loan Debt:
In the previous version of Scorecard, the median undergraduate loan debt (DEBT_MDN) was calculated for those who separated (i.e., either graduated or withdrew) in a given fiscal year , measured at the time of calculation (October 2014). These values were recalculated and replaced, by calculating median debt for those who separate in a given fiscal year, measured at the time of separation.4
Carnegie Classification data are now based on the 2015 Carnegie Classification scheme. Previously published data from the previous version of Scorecard (using the previous Carnegie Classification scheme) are no longer available in the data files.
New Data Elements:
Scorecard data elements available in the September 2016 data release that were not previously made available in Scorecard data files and API:
Institution name aliases
Level of institution
Total share of enrollment of undergraduate degree-seeking students who are men
Total share of enrollment of undergraduate degree-seeking students who are women
Completion rate for first-time, full-time students at four-year institutions (100% of expected time to completion/6 years)
Completion rate for first-time, full-time students at less-than-four-year institutions (100% of expected time to completion)
Adjusted cohort count for completion rate at four-year institutions (denominator of 100% completion rate)
Adjusted cohort count for completion rate at less-than-four-year institutions (denominator of100% completion rate)
Transfer rate for first-time, full-time students at four-year institutions (within 150% of expected time to completion/6 years)
Transfer rate for first-time, full-time students at less-than-four-year institutions (150% of expected time to completion)
Adjusted cohort count for transfer rate at less-than-four-year institutions (denominator of 150% transfer rate)
Adjusted cohort count for transfer rate at four-year institutions (denominator of 150% transfer rate)
Number of students in the cohort for the three-year cohort default rate
Number of students in the cohort for the two-year cohort default rate
Data Elements No Longer Available:
Several Treasury Department-produced data elements describing earnings cohorts are no longer available (assigned NULL values). These include age of entry squared (AGE_ENTRY_SQ), log of family income (LNFAMINC) log of family income (LNFAMINC_IND), and the share of students who submitted FAFSAs to only one institution or multiple institutions5 (FSEND_* for 1-5).
1 This data element is redundant with PAR_ED_1STGEN.
2 NSLDS calculations of the percentage of students in each income groups are based on nominal dollar values (not adjusted for inflation). This methodology differs from the way the Treasury Department identified income groups (with inflation adjustments) for disaggregated earnings calculations.
3 The Eligibility Matrix is available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/idues/em2016.xls. For the purpose of the indicators included in Scorecard, some of these programs were combined (and others were not relevant). Values of 5, 6, or ‘E’ in the Matrix yielded a corresponding flag value of 1 (Yes). All other values were mapped to a corresponding flag value of 0 (No). If multiple values were considered for a flag (either across grant programs or across branches of the institution), the Scorecard indicator was set to 1 when any one of the values indicated eligibility.
4 In the previous version of Scorecard, if a student separated and then went back and got further undergraduate loans at the same institution after separation and prior to October 2014 (time of measurement), then those additional loans would be included in the total.
5 This information recalculated by the Department of Education is available under the data elements APPL_SCH_PCT_GE*.
In March 2016, the Department updated two data elements with more recent data values that appear on both the consumer website and downloadable data files/API:
Currently Operating Status Flag
Heighten Cash Monitoring Flag
In February 2016, the Department expanded the number of institutions that are presented on the College Scorecard consumer website to include roughly 700 less-than-two-year institutions (institutions that predominately award undergraduate certificates) that offer and award Associate and/or Bachelor’s degrees. The previous version of the consumer website did not include these predominantly less-than-two-year institutions.
For those who want to understand more about ways to use the data, important information is contained in the Policy Paper, which describes the goals of the College Scorecard and the use of data on the site, and the Technical Paper, which offers an in-depth exploration of the data and methodologies considered and used for this project.