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Custom Comparison Groups

Custom Comparison Groups for the
2019 IPEDS Data Feedback Report


The annual IPEDS Data Feedback Report (DFR) will be emailed to chief administrators of postsecondary institutions around early winter. This report provides comparison statistics for the institution and a group of similar institutions, referred to as a comparison group. There are two methods by which a comparison group can be established:

1. Create a group. An institution may choose its own custom comparison group. Instructions for doing this are described below.

2. Use the automatic group. An institution may use the default option, which is the automatically generated comparison group determined by NCES.  This group is based on an algorithm that includes institution level and control, Carnegie classification, and enrollment, among other variables.  If this is the option you want, you do not need to create a custom comparison group.


For your institution's 2019 Data Feedback Report, a custom comparison group must be established by July 12, 2019. Changes after this date will not be applied to the 2019 Data Feedback Report.


NOTE:  A custom comparison group created in the spring of 2020 will NOT be used in the 2019 IPEDS Data Feedback Report that is currently available in the Use the Data portal of the IPEDS website ( 


Creating a custom comparison group

There are two ways to create a custom comparison group:

1. Click on "Data Feedback Report" in Use the Data portal. Create your group, save it, and upload it to the Data Collection System, or

2. Use the Data Collection System to create a new group from scratch or to modify last year's group.


ONLY the Primary IPEDS keyholder has access to the data collection function that allows groups to be uploaded, created, or modified.  Your custom comparison group can contain whichever institutions you want, as long as it contains no more than 100 institutions.


If you created a group last year for the 2018 DFR, that same group will be retained for the 2019 DFR. If you would like to verify the comparison group (note that changes in the IPEDS universe due to institution closures and mergers may have modified your group) OR make changes to it, please log into the Data Collection System and confirm/modify it as desired. 


Creating a custom comparison group using the Data Feedback Report tool from the IPEDS website:

·         Go to Use the Data (  

·         Click on Data Feedback Report.

·         Enter your institution's UnitID or name (this will be displayed later as the comparison institution). When your institution appears below the box, click on its name. 

·         Click on either Create a Custom Data Feedback Report or Create a Statistical Analysis Report.

·         Select the appropriate option under "How would you like to select institutions to include in your report?" Add institutions to your group by name, by criteria, or start with your saved or the automatically generated group and make changes to it. Click on the Help link in the upper right-hand corner for instructions on creating a comparison group (look in Part 5 of the IPEDS Data User Manual: Chapter 12 ExPT and DFR).

·         Once you are satisfied with your list of institutions, click on Main Menu (the white button near the upper-right corner). 

·        Click on Create, Save, or Upload institutions.

·         Review the list of institutions. 

·         Save the group to your computer by clicking the Export button near the top of the institution list. Change the default filename to CGxxxxxx.uid where "xxxxxx" is your UnitID.

·         You MUST upload your comparison group to the Data Collection System in order for it to be used in your 2018 DFR. 

o   Log into the Data Collection System (

o   From the Tools menu, select Comparison Group Edit/Upload.

o   Click Browse, find your xxxxxx.uid file where you saved it on your computer, and click Upload. If the upload is NOT successful, an error message will be generated, explaining the error. A successful upload will return a success message, and you will see a list of custom comparison group institution names.


Creating a custom comparison group using the IPEDS Data Collection System:

·         Log into the Data Collection System (

·         From the Tools menu, select Comparison Group Edit/Upload.

·         Click Create or View/Edit.

·         Click Add new.  On your first attempt, you must enter a UnitID in all 3 boxes because your group must contain a minimum of 3 institutions. Use College Navigator College Navigator or Use the Data's Look up an Institution to find UnitIDs. Click Save.

·         Continue until your group contains all the institutions desired.


Modifying a custom comparison group using the IPEDS Data Collection System:

·         If you uploaded a group last year and want to make changes to the group, or want to delete the entire group, use the following procedure:

o   Log into the Data Collection System (

o   From the Tools menu, select Comparison Group Edit/Upload.

o   Click Create or View/Edit.

o   Use the icons to edit or delete individual institutions on your list, click Add new to add additional institutions to your group, or click Delete all to get rid of the entire group.


If you need help with creating a custom comparison group, please contact the IPEDS Data Use HelpDesk at 1-886-558-0658 or If emailing, include your institution's name or UnitID, your name and phone number, and a brief description of the problem. Assistance is available through July 12.

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