ABOUT THIS REPORT:
Methodology
Sources and sponsors

Higher education in America’s metropolitan areas

Notes on the Study

Metro areas
Data source
Time period
Institutions
Enrollment
Institutions
Degrees
Other notes
For more information

Sources and Acknowledgments

ARCHE
Human Capital Research Corporation

Notes on the Study

Metro areas
This study measures higher education activity in America’s largest metropolitan areas.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defines metropolitan areas according to published standards that are applied to U.S. Census Bureau data. The general concept of a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is that of at least one large urbanized center together with surrounding counties having a high degree of economic and social integration with that urban core, as measured by commuting ties. MSAs are relevant units of analysis because of their importance as population centers and engines of national and regional economic life.

If specified criteria are met, a metropolitan statistical area containing a single core with a population of 2.5 million or more may be subdivided to form smaller groupings of counties referred to as Metropolitan Divisions (MD). While MDs are subdivisions of larger MSAs, they often function as distinct social, economic, and cultural areas within the larger regions and retain their separate statistical identities. Thus, OMB suggests “Data users and analysts interested in demographic and economic patterns, trends, and processes within large Metropolitan Statistical Areas should consider data for specific Metropolitan Divisions when conducting analyses.” Accordingly, for purposes of this study, where an MSA is comprised of Metropolitan Divisions, the unit of measure is the MD, as noted in the tables.

This study is based on the MSAs and MDs as defined by OMB in December 2005 using December 2000 standards, Census 2000 data and subsequent population estimates. All metro area data used in this study for years prior to 2005 is based on these 2005 MSA and MD definitions. Mapping all data to the 2005 definitions ensures comparability over the time period studied.

The 50 largest MSAs and MDs in the U.S. are included in this report to provide broad comparisons of metro regions across the nation. They were determined based on July 2005 Census Bureau population data. Because of their historic and widespread public perception as integrated higher education centers, for purposes of this study, the Boston-Quincy and Cambridge-Newton- Framingham MDs are combined to form a single geographic unit of measure, as are the Durham and Raleigh-Cary MSAs. All other metro areas are as defined by OMB.

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Data source
All higher education data is from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) surveys. These surveys are completed annually by accredited, degree-granting colleges, universities and other postsecondary institutions approved to receive federal student aid.

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Time period
This study covers the period 1989 to 2005. Inconsistent data reporting by some higher education sectors makes trend analysis prior to 1989 difficult. 2005 was the latest IPEDS information (adjudicated by the Department of Education) available as of spring 2007, when data analysis for this project began. Data from 1994 and 1999 was included in the analysis to verify trends but is not presented in the report because of space considerations.

The years used in this report, 1989 and 2005, represent when the IPEDS data was collected. Data for enrollment and faculty and staff are for the fall of the year referenced; data for degrees (called completions under IPEDS) is for the most recently completed academic year; and data for finances is for the most recently completed fiscal year. The time periods presented in each table of the report are indicated in the notes to that table.

The two expenditure tables in the report present only FY 2004-05 data because significant changes in accounting standards and data collection formats over time make accurate comparisons to prior years difficult. It is possible, however, to adjust for these changes when analyzing revenues from certain sources (such as the federal government) to obtain comparable data for the period studied.

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Institutions
Included in this study are all degree-granting, Title IV (federal student aid) eligible colleges, universities and other institutions of higher education that filed institutional characteristics reports to IPEDS in the years analyzed and are located within the boundaries of the metro areas used for the study. This includes public, private not-for-profit and for-profit proprietary institutions. Institutions that opened or closed during the time period studied are included. If an institution moved into or out of a metro area, it is included for only those years it was located in the metro area. If an institution gained or lost Title IV eligibility during the period, it is included only for those years it had eligibility.

The study includes data from a total of 1,863 institutions located in the 50 MSAs in any of the years under review. This number includes institutions that opened, closed or had a change in student aid eligibility during the period 1989 to 2005, or which may have failed to file one or more IPEDS forms in a given year. Therefore, the number of institutions included across different years of the study and across categories of data may vary. In 2005, enrollment and degree data in the report includes 1,640 institutions, revenue data includes 1,554 institutions, expenditure data includes 1,177 institutions and staffing data includes 1,468 institutions. Four institutions were removed from the study because they were determined to be online-only or substantially online, and inclusion of their data skewed the rankings.

Data for the Atlanta MSA includes 62 colleges, universities and institutions of higher education during the years reviewed. This number includes institutions that opened, closed or had a change in student aid eligibility during the period 1989 to 2005, or that may have failed to file one or more IPEDS forms in a given year. Therefore, the number of institutions represented across different years of the study and across categories of data may vary. In 2005, enrollment and degree data in the report includes 57 institutions, revenue data includes 56 institutions, expenditure data includes 36 institutions, and staffing data includes 53 institutions. The University of Georgia and Brenau University, located contiguous to the Atlanta MSA, are included in the data as members of the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education (ARCHE).

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Enrollment
Full-Time-Equivalent (FTE) enrollment data is used in this study because it allows accurate comparisons by equating part-time enrollment to full-time. The formula for this calculation is: 1/3 the number of part-time students + the number of full-time students = FTE enrollment. Prior to 1990, enrollment by race was reported only during even-numbered years; so, for this study, 1990 enrollment participation rates were used to estimate 1989 enrollment by race. “Students of color” enrollment includes African American, Hispanic, Asian / Pacific Islander and American Indian / Alaskan Native.

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Degrees
Degree data reported in this study reflects degrees awarded at the bachelor’s level and higher, including master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees. All degrees are reported at the two-digit level based on the Department of Education’s Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes and conform to the CIP-2000 standard. Degree categories reported using earlier CIP classifications are mapped to the 2000 standards. Some degree category titles in the report are abbreviated from those used in CIP because of space limitations. Beginning in 1999, IPEDS introduced a first-professional certification degree category, which for this study is included in the professional category.

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Finances
Expenditure data reflects spending by higher education institutions and related units, as reported to IPEDS using federal or government accounting board standards (depending on whether institutions are public or private). Total expenditures were compiled by summing individual expenditure components: instruction, research, public service, academic support, library, student services, institutional support, operations and maintenance, scholarships and fellowships (net of discounts and allowances), auxiliary enterprises, hospitals, independent operations, interest, depreciation, non-operating expenditures and component unit expenditures (net of amounts paid to institutions).

The table showing Federal appropriations, grants and contracts includes funds received by higher education institutions from the U.S. government as reported using accounting board standards (including Pell grants at most institutions).

The table showing faculty and staff includes all employees of the institutions. However, staff associated solely with a hospital, even if the hospital is part of an institution, are not included in IPEDS reporting unless their jobs are related to education. Also excluded are student workers, unless their jobs are primarily in instruction or research.

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Other notes
The Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education (ARCHE) published this report in May 2008.

Because of differences in MSA definitions and institutional cohorts, and the use of more recent data, information in this study is not comparable to that presented in ARCHE’s previous MSA reports (released in 1999, 2001 and 2003).

The failure of any institution of higher education to file complete and accurate IPEDS surveys with the U.S. Department of Education may affect the ranking of the metropolitan area in which that institution is located.

The data presented in this report was compiled and analyzed by Human Capital Research Corporation, a privately held firm that provides research and analysis in higher education operations, educational productivity, enrollment management, workforce development and public policy.

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For more information

For print copies, contact ARCHE.

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