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In May 1985, the Commission on Higher Education began to develop the Student Unit Record Data System (SURDS) to support the development of statewide admission standards. A committee of governing board representatives met with Commission staff, and the final data format was approved by the Commission at the November 1, 1985, Commission meeting. The data collected from Colorado institutions has expanded to include Enrollment, Undergraduate Applicant, Degrees Awarded, Financial Aid, Remediation, Teacher Education and Verification of Lawful Presence.

The data collection year begins with the Summer term and ends with Spring, the following calendar year. The Department collects data throughout the year, depending the type of data. For example, Financial Aid is collected once a year while Enrollment is collected up to five times (Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, Interim) depending on the institution.

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Data Reporting

SURDS files are the official source of data for public postsecondary education in Colorado. Among the general uses of enrollment file data are:

  • providing information on the numbers of students enrolled in Colorado postsecondary education institutions and the characteristics of students who receive these degrees.
  • reporting IPEDS enrollment data to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) by student gender, race/ethnicity, and specified program codes.
  • calculating graduation rates generating a yearly profiles.
  • reporting for the annual diversity report.
  • completing projections for the program approval process and productivity statistics for program discontinuation.

Private institutions and area vocational schools that would like DHE staff to generate their IPEDS enrollment reports also are eligible to participate.

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The Enrollment File includes all students enrolled in courses awarding credit toward a degree or other formal award. Also report students enrolled in courses that are part of a vocational or occupational program, including those enrolled in off campus centers, as well as high school students taking college-level courses for credit. The population reported is not limited to students whose credit hours are included in official FTE reports. The file is collected every semester from each public post­secondary education institution participating in SURDS.

Degrees Awarded

The Degree File includes all students who have received a certificate, degree, or formal award approved by DHE during the report year. Degrees earned but not conferred during the report period should be included in the following year’s report. The file is collected annually for federal and state reporting. A summer degree file is collected for use in graduation rate calculations, but these records are reported again in the full year file.

Financial Aid

The primary purpose of this file is to collect the most complete data possible about student aid awards for a fiscal year. Include all students who are enrolled with a FAFSA on file and applied for or received aid according to the criteria below:

  • Applied - All financial aid applicants who were enrolled and submitted a FAFSA and/or received aid reported on SURDS. This would include applicants who were never offered aid.
  • Received - Students who were accepted for enrollment and who received any of the following funds:
    1. any need-based aid;
    2. any non-need based aid, including no-need work-study, state, or institutional and private merit awards;
    3. loans;
    4. any other form of aid included on the financial aid file, and any aid that came through the financial aid office.
  • Note: recipients may not have applied for financial aid.

All students who submit an application for student aid maintained on the institution’s financial aid files, or who receive financial support from the institution and who are accepted for enrollment for one or more specific periods, if they enrolled are to be included.

Student aid includes all need-based aid, non-need based aid, merit awards, loans, and any other forms of aid included in the Financial Aid File Data Dictionary. All students who received any form of aid that came through the financial aid office are to be included, whether or not the applicant applied for need-based aid. Specifically, all recipients of merit-based state funds must be included (e.g., undergraduate merit, no-need work study, etc.), as well as students who receive awards from outside the institution if the financial aid office has knowledge of the award.