Term Definitions

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

Academic rank – A status designated by the institution according to the institution's policies. Ranks can be Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Instructor, or Lecturer.

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

American Indian or Alaska native – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community attachment.

Asian – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Associate’s degree – An award that normally requires at least 2 but less than 4 years of full-time equivalent college work.  Degrees that Tompkins Cortland Community College’s offers.

Black or African American – A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.

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 a number of certificates.

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

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.

Concurrent Enrollment – see Dual Enrollment

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.

Distance Education – Education that uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously.

Dual Enrollment – A program through which high school students may enroll in college courses while still enrolled in high school. Students are not required to apply for admission to the college in order to participate. 

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.

Financial Aid – Federal Work Study, grants, loans to students (government and/or private), assistantships, scholarships, fellowships, tuition waivers, tuition discounts, employer aid (tuition reimbursement) and other monies (other than from relatives/friends) provided to students to meet expenses. This excludes loans to parents. 

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.

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.

Hispanic/Latino – A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

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.

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific islander – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

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.

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 developed in 1997 that are 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. The designations are used to categorize U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and other eligible non-citizens.

Individuals are asked to first designate ethnicity as:
- Hispanic or Latino or
- Not Hispanic or Latino

Second, individuals are asked to indicate all races that apply among the following:
- American Indian or Alaska Native
- Asian
- Black or African American
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
- White

Race/ethnicity unknown – The category used to report students or employees whose race and ethnicity are not known.

Remedial Courses – Instructional courses designed for students deficient in the general competencies necessary for a regular postsecondary curriculum and educational setting.

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.

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.

Student Consumer Information - The Higher Education Act of 1965 and The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 require colleges and universities that receive Title IV funds to disclose certain specific information about the institution, student financial assistance, health and safety, and student outcomes to students, employees, and the general public. 

Transfer Out Rate - Total number of students who are known to have transferred out of the reporting institution within 150% of normal time to completion divided by the adjusted cohort.  Access Tompkins Cortland Community College transfer rate.

Transcript - An official record of student performance showing all schoolwork completed at a given school and the final mark or other evaluation received in each portion of the instruction. Transcripts often include an explanation of the marking scale used by the school. Request a Tompkins Cortland Community College transcript. Submit a transcript to Tompkins Cortland Community College.

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 – 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.

Two-year institution – A postsecondary institution that offers programs of at least 2 but less than 4 years duration. Includes occupational and vocational schools with programs of at least 1800 hours and academic institutions with programs of less than 4 years.

Retention rate – A measure of the rate at which students persist in their educational program at an institution, expressed as a percentage. For two-year institutions, this is the percentage of first-time degree/certificate-seeking students from the previous fall who either re-enrolled or successfully completed their program by the current fall.

Undergraduate – A student enrolled in a 4- or 5-year bachelor's degree program, an associate's degree program, or a vocational or technical program below the baccalaureate.

Unduplicated count – The sum of students enrolled for credit with each student counted only once during the reporting period, regardless of when the student enrolled.

UnitID – Unique identification number assigned to postsecondary institutions surveyed through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Also referred to as UNITID or IPEDS ID.  Tompkins Cortland Community College’s Unit ID is 196565.

Veterans Administration Education Benefits – Those benefits available to military personnel and their families for financial assistance at approved postsecondary education institutions.

White -  A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

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