Letter to the U.S. Department of Education on Pell Grant recipients in IPEDS

Published Jul 26, 2016


In February, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a proposal to include a Pell Grant recipient cohort in the Outcome Measures (OM) survey component of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). While the PostsecData community applauded the decision to add a Pell recipient cohort in IPEDS, which could provide an opportunity to better understand the outcomes of low-income students, there were a number of aspects in the original proposal that caused concern. PostsecData submitted a letter in April, as part of the open comment period, to address those technical issues and propose a series of alternatives.

In response to comments on the original proposal, ED revised its plan for including Pell recipient data in IPEDS, and the revised proposal clearly reflected many recommendations made by PostsecData. Last week, PostsecData submitted a second letter to ED, praising the suggested changes and thanking the Department for heeding the advice of experts in the field.

Rather than designating an entirely separate cohort for Pell Grant recipients in the OM component, combining students with different attendance and enrollment statuses, and making it impossible to derive any conclusions from the data, ED now proposes creating cohorts for Pell recipients and non-Pell Stafford recipients within the Graduation Rate (GR) survey component. Using the GR component will have the benefit of making these Pell recipient outcomes comparable to other graduation rates, and should minimize burden for institutions by matching the reporting requirement to a disclosure requirement that has been part of the Higher Education Act since 2008.

RTI International, in coordination with the Department, will convene a Technical Review Panel of higher education professionals and data experts in late August to discuss the best way to include Pell recipients in OM. The PostsecData Collaborative is pleased to support these efforts to improve postsecondary data systems and collect more comprehensive data on student outcomes, especially for low-income students.

View the PDF to read the full letter.