Noncredit Research Collaborative

Adjusting College Cost Figures for Noncredit Enrollments: Part 2—Iowa, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia


Objective: This study extends prior work on a distortion in IPEDS data brought about by the exclusion of noncredit enrollments. This affects a commonly used metric, expenditures per FTE student. The problem is that expenditures for noncredit courses are reported to IPEDS but the enrollments are not. Previous research covered 4 states— New York, New Jersey, California, and North Carolina. The current study adds four more states—Iowa, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Method: Data on noncredit enrollments were made available from system offices in our four new states. In addition, discussions were held on both the system and the campus level to verify the data and assumptions. Data were merged with existing IPEDS data at the campus and state level and were adjusted to account for noncredit enrollments.

Results: Evidence supports the argument that IPEDS data overestimates the resources that community colleges have to spend on each student, although distortions vary greatly between states and among colleges in the same state.