New Race and Ethnicity Guidance for the Collection of Federal Education Data
August 2008

Since 1977, the Department, along with the other Federal agencies, has been collecting aggregated student data on race and ethnicity for five categories (American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander, Black or African American, Hispanic, and White).

In 1997, the Office of Management and Budget published new revised standards for the collection of data on race and ethnicity. In accordance with these standards, the U. S. Department of Education published final guidance in the Federal Register on October 19, 2007 (72 Fed. Reg. 59267) on the collection and reporting of racial and ethnic data by educational institutions and other grantees.

The Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Bill Evers, provided further guidance by responding to questions from the public and further elaborating on requirements of State educational agencies, local educational agencies, postsecondary institutions, other educational institutions, and Department grantees for reporting racial and ethnic data to the Department using the categories set forth in the 2007 final guidance.

The 2007 final guidance allows individuals to self-identify their ethnicity and race, and permits individuals to select more than one race and/or ethnicity. This change authorizes individuals to more accurately reflect their racial and ethnic background by not limiting responses to only one racial or ethnic category, and expands reporting options to seven categories (American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, White, and Two or More Races). The Department recognizes that this change requires additional changes to the education information systems of state agencies, school districts, and postsecondary institutions across the country.

To assist with the transition to these new collection and reporting standards, responses to key questions received since the publication of our final guidance are provided for your review and use at: Specifically addressed are:

  • a "two-part question" to be used to refine the selection of race and ethnic categories
  • actions to be taken when a self-identified response is not complete
  • retention of original responses
  • time frames for when the Department will begin collecting and reporting data by new racial and ethnic categories.

These questions, and others that arise from the field, as well as other links and resources, will be published online at: and at

Postsecondary institutions can access relevant information from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) website at

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Last Modified: 12/23/2010