Tompkins Cortland Community College


Term Definitions

Here are the definitions of some commonly used terms in institutional research.

Adjunct Faculty – Non-tenure track faculty serving in a temporary or auxiliary capacity to teach specific courses on a course-by-course basis.

Calendar system – The method by which an institution structures most of its courses for the academic year.

Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act – The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-332) was signed into law on October 31, 1998 and became effective on July 1, 1999. Its purpose is to improve vocational and technical education programs. The primary focus is to develop challenging academic standards and promote the development of activities that integrate academic and vocational and technical instruction. The Act also outlines various opportunities for states and local areas to integrate vocational education and workforce investment systems. However, new and strict barriers are placed on linkages between vocational education and School-to-Work programs.

Certificate – A formal award certifying the satisfactory completion of a postsecondary education program. Tompkins Cortland Community College offers associate degrees and certificates in 38 program areas.

Completer – A student who receives a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award. In order to be considered a completer, the degree/award must actually be conferred.

Cohort – A specific group of students established for tracking purposes.

Control (of institution) – A classification of whether an institution is operated by publicly elected or appointed officials (public control) or by privately elected or appointed officials and derives its major source of funds from private sources (private control).

Credit – Recognition of attendance or performance in an instructional activity (course or program) that can be applied by a recipient toward the requirements for a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award.

Degrees – An award conferred by a college, university, or other post- secondary education institution as official recognition for the successful completion of a program of studies. Tompkins Cortland Community College offers associate degrees and certificates in 38 program areas.

Diploma – A formal document certifying the successful completion of a prescribed program of studies.

Distance learning – An option for earning course credit at off-campus locations via cable television, Internet, satellite classes, videotapes, correspondence courses, or other means.

Faculty – Persons whose specific assignments customarily are made for the purpose of conducting instruction, research, or public service as a principal activity (or activities) and who hold academic-rank titles of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor, lecturer, or the equivalent of any of these academic ranks. If their principal activity is instructional, this category includes deans, directors, or the equivalent, as well as associate deans, assistant deans, and executive officers of academic departments (chairpersons, heads, or the equivalent). Student teachers or research assistants are not included in this category.

Fall cohort – The group of students entering in the fall term established for tracking purposes. For the Graduation Rates component, this includes all students who enter an institution as full-time, first-time degree or certificate-seeking undergraduate students during the fall term of a given year.

Fall term – The part of the academic year that begins between late August and November 1.

Full-time equivalent (FTE) – A measurement equal to one student enrolled full time for one academic year. Total FTE enrollment includes full time plus the calculated equivalent of the part-time enrollment. The full-time equivalent of the part-time students can be estimated using different factors depending on the type and control of institution and level of student.

FTE Staff – Full-time Equivalent Staff (Faculty) - The total number of staff plus the full-time equivalent of the part-time staff. The result may be the actual calculation determined by the number of hours worked by all part-time staff divided by the average number of hours worked by a full-time employee.

Full-time Student: Undergraduate – A student enrolled for 12 or more semester credits, or 12 or more quarter credits, or 24 or more contact hours a week each term.

Graduation rate – The rate required for disclosure and/or reporting purposes under Student Right-to-Know. This rate is calculated as the total number of completers within 150% of normal time divided by the revised cohort minus any allowable exclusions.

IPEDS – Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System – (formerly HEGIS) conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. IPEDS began in 1986 and involves annual data collections. Survey questionnaires are sent to all post-secondary institutions eligible for federal student financial aid, as determined by the Office of Post-secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education. IPEDS also surveys approximately 4,000 schools that are not eligible for federal student aid using the Institutional Characteristics form ONLY. IPEDS consists of the following surveys (by target audience): Institutional Characteristics (IC), Fall Enrollment (including age and residence data) (EF), Fall Enrollment by Occupationally-Specific Programs (EP), Completions (C), Finance (F), Salaries of Full-time Instructional Faculty (SA), Fall Staff (S), and Academic Libraries (L). For further information, see U.S. Department of Education – IPEDS.

NCES – National Center for Education Statistics – The statistical branch of the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, a principal operating component of the U.S. Department of Education. NCES collects statistics on the condition of education in the United States, analyzes and reports the meaning and significance of these statistics, and assists states and local education agencies in improving their statistical systems. For further information, see the NCES website.

Non-degree seeking student – A student enrolled in courses for credit who is not recognized by the institution as seeking a degree or formal award.

Nonresident Alien – A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who is in this country on a visa or temporary basis and does not have the right to remain indefinitely.

Part-time Student: Undergraduate – A student enrolled for either 11 semester credits or less, or 11 quarter credits or less, or less than 24 contact hours a week each term.

Postsecondary award, certificate, or diploma (at least 1 but less than 2 academic years) – Requires completion of an organized program of study at the postsecondary level (below the baccalaureate degree) in at least 1 but less than 2 full-time equivalent academic years , or designed for completion in at least 30 but less than 60 semester or trimester credit hours, or in at least 45 but less than 90 quarter credit hours, or in at least 900 but less than 1,800 contact or clock hours, by a student enrolled full time.

Program – A combination of courses and related activities organized for the attainment of broad educational objectives as described by the institution.

Race/ethnicity – Categories used to describe groups to which individuals belong, identify with, or belong in the eyes of the community. The categories do not denote scientific definitions of anthropological origins. A person may be counted in only one group. The groups used to categorize U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and other eligible non-citizens are as follows: Black, Black, non-Hispanic, American Indian/ Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, non-Hispanic.

Resident Alien – A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who has been admitted as a legal immigrant for the purpose of obtaining permanent resident alien status (and who holds either an alien registration card, a Temporary Resident card, or an Arrival-Departure Record with a notation that conveys legal immigrant status such as Section 207 Refugee, Section 208 Asylee, Conditional Entrant Parolee or Cuban-Haitian).

Semester – A calendar system that consists of two sessions called semesters during the academic year with about 15 weeks for each semester of instruction. There may be an additional summer session.

Transfer Student – A student entering the reporting institution for the first time but know to have previously attended a post-secondary institution at the same level (e.g., undergraduate, graduate). A student may transfer with or without credit.

Tuition and Fees (Revenues) – Revenues from charges assessed against students for educational purposes. Includes tuition and fee remissions or exemptions even though there is no intention of collecting from the student. Includes those tuition and fees that are remitted to the state as an offset to the state appropriation. Excludes charges for room, board, and other services rendered by auxiliary enterprises.

Tuition – Amount of money charged to students for instructional services. Tuition may be charged per term, per course, or per credit.

Required Fees – Fixed sum charged to students for items not covered by tuition and required of such a large proportion of all students that the student who does NOT pay the charge is an exception.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education Glossary