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Institute of Education Sciences

IPEDS Finance Data Reveal How Pension Benefits May Contribute to the Growth of Public Postsecondary Institutions’ Financial Liabilities

In the long-standing conversation of high college costs, ever wonder what public colleges and universities owe? For Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) using the Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS) found that 1,624[1] public institutions carried debt and total financial obligations of $451 billion in current dollars (see figure 1).

New finance data from IPEDS can now provide more insight about these obligations than was previously available.

Several common financial obligations or liabilities[2] can be found across all U.S. postsecondary institutions. A portion of an institution’s liabilities can be attributed to pension benefits and contributions (i.e., pension liabilities). Since fiscal year 2015, IPEDS collected data on these obligations as a specific part of the total debt held by public postsecondary institutions.  For example, the total amount of pension benefits and contributions that public institutions owed their employees in FY 2017 was $95 billion (see figure 1).

 



 

Before FY 2015, institutions did not have to report to NCES their pension liabilities and the total liabilities for public institutions were $304 billion in FY 2014.  However, after the change in reporting standards, the total liabilities for all public institutions jumped to $395 billion in FY 2015. This increase is greater than increases in all other fiscal years from 2012 to 2017. This finding suggests that the implementation of the new pension reporting standards may have contributed to the change in the increasing trend of total liabilities data.

Reporting Change in Context

Prior to the revised pension reporting standards, dating back to 1997, public institutions reported the difference between their annual required contribution to the pension plan(s) and the actual annual contribution (e.g., net pension obligation). The revised standards—known as Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statements 67 and 68—require institutions to report the entire unfunded pension amount (e.g., net pension liability), not just the amount of deficiency in annual payments.

Including the full current pension liability of the institution instead of the annual shortfall in pension funding of the institution resulted in large shifts in the balance sheet of many public institutions. For example, if an institution had a total of $2 million in pension liabilities, prior to 2015 this institution would not report the $2 million in net pension liabilities, just the amount below the required contribution for that year that was actually paid. Now, this institution must report the full $2 million in net pension liabilities, even if the annual required contribution had been paid in full. This revision of the financial reporting standards resulted in increased transparency and accuracy of the total amount of liabilities reported by institutions.

Additional IPEDS Resources

NCES encourages educational researchers to use IPEDS data—a primary source on U.S. colleges, universities, and technical and vocational institutions. For more information about the IPEDS data, visit the IPEDS Survey Components page.

While finance data from the IPEDS collection may seem to be targeted for accountants and business officers, researchers interested in a postsecondary institution’s financial health can explore through expense and revenue metrics, resulting in possible data-driven, bellwether information. To learn more about an institution’s finance data, in particular its pension benefits, click here for the current finance survey materials; archived changes to the survey materials in 2015–16 (FY 2015)—such as the implementation of the new pension reporting standards; and links to Video Tutorials, FAQs, glossary definitions and other helpful resources.  

 

 By Bao Le, Aida Ali Akreyi, and Gigi Jones


[1] This total includes 735 four-year public institutions, 889 two-year public institutions, and 63 administrative public system offices (41 four-year and 22 two-year offices). Administrative system offices can report on behalf of their campuses. The four non-Title IV-eligible U.S. service academics are not included.

[2] Liabilities include long-term debts (current and noncurrent) as well as other current and noncurrent liabilities such as pensions, compensated absences, claims and judgments, etc.

National Spending for Public Schools Increases for Third Consecutive Year in School Year 2015-16

Spending on elementary and secondary education increased in school year 2015–16 (Fiscal Year 2016). At the national level, education spending has recovered from the economic downturn between 2009 and 2013. This is the third consecutive year spending increased, reversing a decline in spending for the prior four years after adjusting for inflation. These findings come from a recently released report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The First Look report, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2015–16 (Fiscal Year 2016) is based on data from the National Public Education Finance Survey (NPEFS), a component of the Common Core of Data (CCD).  

The amount spent per student for the day-to-day operation of public elementary and secondary schools rose to $11,841 in Fiscal Year (FY) 16.[1] Current expenditures per student increased by 2.9 percent between FY 15 and 16, following on the heels of an increase of 3.2 percent from the prior year, after adjusting for inflation.[2]  Although spending per student was higher in FY 16 than in FY 07, it had decreased each year from FY 09 to FY 13.


NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY 16 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2007 through 2016.


Salaries and wages make up the largest proportion of current expenditures, but have increased at a much slower rate than employee benefits or other expenditures.[3]  After peaking at $7,047 per pupil in FY 09, salaries and wages declined to a low of $6,452 per pupil in FY 2013, and increased to $6,748 per pupil in FY 16.

The proportion of salaries and wages in current expenditures per pupil decreased from 60.2 percent in FY 09 to 57.0 in FY 16. In contrast, the proportion of employee benefits in current expenditures per pupil increased from 20.4 percent in FY 09 to 22.9 percent in FY 16.


NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY 16 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2007 through 2016.


At the state level, spending on current expenditures per student ranged from a low of $7,006 in Utah to a high of $22,231 in New York. Current expenditures per student were at least 40 percent higher than the national average in the following states and jurisdictions:

  • New York ($22,231)
  • District of Columbia ($21,135)
  • Connecticut ($19,615)
  • New Jersey ($19,041)
  • Vermont ($19,023)
  • Alaska ($17,510)
  • Massachusetts ($16,986)

Current expenditures per student for public elementary and secondary education, by state: Fiscal year 2016

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal year 2016


Between FY 14 and FY 16, current expenditures per student increased by 3 percent or more in 29 states, and by 1 to less than 3 percent in 15 states. Increases in current expenditures per student from FY 14 to FY 16 were highest in California (16.4 percent), Washington (9.9 percent), Hawaii (9.3 percent), New York (8.8 percent), and Pennsylvania (8.2 percent).  


NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY 16 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2014 and 2016. 


The recently released report also presents national and state data on public school funding by source.[4] Total education funding increased by 4.0 percent (from $652.1 to $678.4 billion) from FY 15 to FY 16 following an increase of 3.3 percent from FY 14 to FY 15.  Local funding increased by 3.7 percent (from $291.1 to $303.8 billion), state funding increased by 4.9 percent (from $303.6 to $318.6 billion), and federal funding slightly increased by 1.1 percent (from $55.4 to $56.0 billion).


SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2007 through 2016.


The percentage of total funding from federal sources accounted for approximately 9 percent of total funding in both FY 07 and FY 16; however, there were notable fluctuations during this period. The federal percentage increased from 8.2 percent of funding in FY 08 to 12.5 percent of funding in FY 11. In part, this increase reflects the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As the funds from the program were spent, the federal percentage decreased from 10.2 percent of total funding in FY 12 to 8.3 percent in FY 16.

Local sources accounted for 44.8 percent of total funding in FY 16, and have been relatively stable over the past 10 years. The percentage of total funding from state sources decreased from a high of 48.3 percent in FY 08 to 43.4 percent in FY 10, and has since increased to 47 percent in FY 16.

 


[1] Spending refers to current expenditures. Current expenditures are comprised of expenditures for the day-to-day operation of schools and school districts for public elementary and secondary education, including expenditures for staff salaries and benefits, supplies, and purchased services. Current expenditures include instruction, instruction-related, support services (e.g., social work, health, and psychological services), and other elementary/secondary current expenditures, but exclude expenditures on capital outlay, other programs, and interest on long-term debt. 

[2] In order to compare spending from one year to the next, expenditures are converted to constant dollars, which adjusts figures for inflation.

[3] Other expenditures include current expenditures other than salaries, wages, and employee benefits, such as purchased services, tuition, supplies, etc.

[4] Funding refers to revenues. Revenues are comprised of all funds received from external sources, net of refunds, and correcting transactions. Noncash transactions, such as receipt of services, commodities, or other receipts in kind are excluded, as are funds received from the issuance of debt, liquidation of investments, and nonroutine sale of property.

 

Back to School by the Numbers: 2018

Across the country, hallways and classrooms are full of activity as students head back to school for the 2018–19 academic year. Each year, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) compiles some back-to-school facts and figures that give a snapshot of our schools and colleges for the coming year. You can see the full report on the NCES website, but here are a few “by-the-numbers” highlights. You can also click on the hyperlinks throughout the blog to see additional data on these topics.

The staff of NCES and the Institute of Education Sciences hopes our nation’s students, teachers, administrators, school staffs, and families have an outstanding school year!

 

50.7 million

The number of students expected to attend public elementary and secondary schools this year—slightly more than in the 2017–18­ school year (50.6 million). The racial and ethnic profile of these students includes 24.1 million White students, 7.8 million Black students, 14.0 million Hispanic students, 2.6 million Asian students, 0.2 million Pacific Islander students, 0.5 million American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 1.6 million students of Two or more races.

About 5.9 million students are expected to attend private schools this year.

 

16.0

The expected number of public school students per teacher in fall 2018. This ratio has remained consistent at around 16.0 since 2010. However, the pupil/teacher ratio is lower in private schools (12.3) and has fallen since 2010, when it was 13.0. 

 

$12,910

This is the projected per-student expenditure in public elementary and secondary schools in 2018–19. Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools are projected to be $654 billion for the 2018–19 school year.

 

3.6 million

The number of students expected to graduate from high school this academic year, including about 3.3 million from public schools and nearly 0.4 million from private schools.

 

19.9 million

This is the number of students expected to attend American colleges and universities this fall—higher than the fall 2000 enrollment of 15.3 million but lower than the peak of 21.0 million in 2010. About 13.3 million students will attend four-year institutions and 6.7 million will attend two-year institutions.

 

56.5%

The projected percentage of female postsecondary students in fall 2018, for a total of about 11.2 million female students, compared with 8.7 million male students.

 

By Lauren Musu, NCES and Molly Fenster, American Institutes for Research

National Spending for Public Schools Increases for Second Consecutive Year in School Year 2014-15

By Stephen Q. Cornman and Lauren Musu-Gillette, NCES; Lei Zhou, Activate Research; and Malia Howell, U.S. Census Bureau

Nationally, spending on elementary and secondary education increased in school year 2014–15 (Fiscal Year 2015). This is the second consecutive year spending has increased, reversing a decline in spending for the prior four years after adjusting for inflation. These findings come from a recently released report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The First Look report, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2014–15 (Fiscal Year 2015) is based on data from the National Public Education Finance Survey (NPEFS), a component of the Common Core of Data (CCD).

The amount spent per student for the day-to-day operation of public elementary and secondary schools rose to $11,454 in Fiscal Year (FY) 15.[1] Current expenditures per student increased by 2.8 percent between FY 14 and 15, following an increase of 1.2 percent from the prior year, after adjusting for inflation.[2]  Despite these recent increases, spending per student decreased each year from FY 09 to FY 13 and the FY 15 amount spent per student was lower than the amounts spent in FY 08, FY 09, and FY 10.


NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY 15 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2006 through 2015.


At the state level, spending on current expenditures per student ranged from a low of $6,751 in Utah to a high of $20,744 in New York. In addition to New York, current expenditures per student were at least 40 percent higher than the national average in the following states and jurisdictions:

  • District of Columbia ($20,610);
  • Alaska ($20,191);
  • Connecticut ($19,020);
  • New Jersey ($18,838);
  • Vermont ($18,769);
  • Massachusetts ($16,566);
  • and Wyoming ($16,047).

Current expenditures per student for public elementary and secondary education, by state: Fiscal year 2015 

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal year 2015.


Between FY 14 and FY 15, current expenditures per student increased by 3 percent or more in 12 states, and by 1 to less than 3 percent in 23 states. Increases in current expenditures per student from FY 14 to FY 15 were highest in Alaska (8.6 percent), California (7.3 percent), Texas (4.8 percent), Illinois (4.7 percent), and Maine (4.6 percent).


NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY 15 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2013 through 2015. 


The recently released report also presents national and state data on public school funding by source.[3] Total funding increased by 3.3 percent (from $628.2 to $648.6 billion) from FY 14 to FY 15, which primarily reflected funding increases at the local and state levels. Local funding increased by 3.3 percent (from $282.5 to $292.0 billion), state funding increased by 3.7 percent (from $290.7 to $301.6 billion), and federal funding remained about level with an increase of 0.2 percent (from $54.9 to $55.0 billion).


SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2006 through 2015. 


The percentage of total funding from federal sources accounted for approximately 9 percent of total funding in both FY 06 and FY 15; however, there were notable fluctuations during this period. The federal percentage increased from 8.2 percent of funding in FY 08 to 12.5 percent of funding in FY 11. In part, this increase reflects the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As the funds from the program were spent, the federal percentage decreased from 10.2 percent of total funding in FY 12 to 8.5 percent in FY 15.

Local sources accounted for 45.0 percent of total funding in FY 15, and have been relatively stable over the past 10 years. The percentage of total funding from state sources decreased from a high of 48.3 percent in FY 08 to 43.4 percent in FY 10, and has since increased to 46.5 percent in FY 15.


[1] Spending refers to current expenditures. Current expenditures are comprised of expenditures for the day-to-day operation of schools and school districts for public elementary and secondary education, including expenditures for staff salaries and benefits, supplies, and purchased services. Current expenditures include instruction, instruction-related, support services (e.g., social work, health, and psychological services), and other elementary/secondary current expenditures, but exclude expenditures on capital outlay, other programs, and interest on long-term debt. 

[2] In order to compare spending from one year to the next, expenditures are converted to constant dollars, which adjusts figures for inflation.

[3] Funding refers to revenues. Revenues are comprised of all funds received from external sources, net of refunds, and correcting transactions. Noncash transactions, such as receipt of services, commodities, or other receipts in kind are excluded, as are funds received from the issuance of debt, liquidation of investments, and nonroutine sale of property.

 

Financing Education: National and State Funding and Spending for Public Schools in 2014

By Stephen Q. Cornman and Lauren Musu-Gillette

Revenues and expenditures increased in public K-12 education for the 2013-14 school year, the most recent year data is available, according to a recently released report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The report shows that, nationally, spending on elementary and secondary education increased in school year 2013–14, reversing a decline in spending for the previous four years.

The First Look report, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2013–14 (Fiscal Year 2014) is based on data from the National Public Education Finance Survey (NPEFS), a component of the Common Core of Data (CCD).

The amount of money spent, per pupil, in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools rose to $11,066 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014.[i] That is a 1.2 percent increase over the previous year (FY 2013), after adjusting for inflation.  Although spending per student has increased overall from 2002–03 to 2013–14, it had decreased each year from 2008–09 to 2012–13  In order to compare spending from one year to the next, expenditures are converted to constant dollars, which adjusts figures for inflation.


NOTE: Spending is reported in constant 2014–15 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," 2002–03 through 2012–13. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 236.65


At the state level, spending per student ranged from a low of $6,546 in Utah to $20,577 in the District of Columbia (D.C.). In addition to the District of Columbia, current expenditures per pupil exceeded $15,000 in eight states: 

  • New York ($20,156); 
  • New Jersey ($18,780); 
  • Alaska ($18,466); 
  • Connecticut ($18,401); 
  • Vermont ($18,066); 
  • Wyoming ($15,903); 
  • Massachusetts ($15,886); and 
  • Rhode Island ($15,372). 

Current expenditures per pupil increased by 1 percent or more in 25 states between FY 13 and FY 14.


Current Expenditures per pupil for public elementary and secondary education, by state: Fiscal Year 2014

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “National Public Education Financial Survey


The report also presents national and state level data on public school funding by source.[ii] In FY 2014, total revenues per pupil averaged $12,460 nationally, an increase of 1.1 percent from FY 2013. This reversed a decrease of 1.1 percent between FY 2012 and FY 2013. Total revenues increased by 1.6 percent (from $613.2 to $623.2 billion) from FY 13 to FY 14, local revenues increased by 0.5 percent (from $279.0 to $280.5 billion), state revenues increased by 3.9 percent (from $277.5 to $288.2 billion), and federal revenues decreased by 3.9 percent (from $56.7 to $54.5 billion), after adjusting for inflation.

The percentage of total funding from federal sources accounted for 9 percent of total funding in both 2002–03 and 2012–13; however, there were notable fluctuations during this period. The federal percentage increased from 8 percent of funding 2007–08 to 13 percent of funding in 2010–11. This increase reflects, in part, the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As the funds from the program were spent, the federal percentage of total funding decreased to 10 percent in 2011–12 and to 8.7 percent in 2013–14. Local sources accounted for 45 percent of total funding in 2013–14. The percentage of total funding from state sources decreased from 49 percent in school year 2002–03 to 46 percent in school year 2013–14.


SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," 2002–03 through 2012–13. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 235.10.


[i] Spending refers to current expenditures. Current expenditures are comprised of expenditures for the day-to-day operation of schools and school districts for public elementary and secondary education, including expenditures for staff salaries and benefits, supplies, and purchased services. Current expenditures include instruction, instruction-related, support services (e.g., social work, health, and psychological services), and other elementary/secondary current expenditures, but exclude expenditures on capital outlay, other programs, and interest on long-term debt. 

[ii] Funding refers to revenues. Revenues are comprised of all funds received from external sources, net of refunds, and correcting transactions. Noncash transactions, such as receipt of services, commodities, or other receipts in kind are excluded, as are funds received from the issuance of debt, liquidation of investments, and nonroutine sale of property.