In September 2015, the US Department of Education released their College Scorecard website (, which provides information about annual costs, financial aid, graduation/retention rates, earnings after school, and student body and other academic measures.  One stated goal of the scorecard is to provide information to guide student and family choices.  With this effort, it is important to describe the information in detail and include context to the provided data.  This web page is intended to provide such context for data displayed for the campuses of the University of Colorado.


  • Scorecard elements such as demographic profiles, graduation and retention rates, and annual costs are from published IPEDS data.
  • The section “Earning After School” includes salary information on students attending the institution who received aid and have since left the institution, regardless of completion or transfer status.  Population is limited to recipients of Title IV financial aid and does not include detail by program of study or major. 
  • There are several complicating factors for the University of Colorado, including the consolidation of multiple campuses in IPEDS, limitation of cohort size by filtering on financial aid applications, and students continuing on to graduate school.  Specifically, the earnings data for CU Denver represents only students from the Anschutz Medical Campus. Read more about this on the CU Denver website. 
  • A salary comparison to other scorecards is discouraged due to the cohort definitions, source of earnings, and differences in methodology.

Scorecard Section: Earnings After School

Data Source

Salary data includes former undergraduate students who received federal aid, regardless of graduating from the institution.  Federal aid includes grants and loans.  This data includes federal wages (W2) and self-employment income (Schedule SE).   For example, the FY 2002 cohort is based on federal aid recipients with salary data found in 2011 tax data. 

General Limitations

Without salary data by program of study, the college scorecard lacks enough detail to determine which group of students makes up each cohort.  For example, if only engineering students are included, typically a higher paying occupational field, it would influence the overall results. 

Specific Limitations
  • Regarding the CU Denver earnings data, the incorrect OPEID was used when the Department of Education captured the earnings data.  The data confusion stems from the 2004 consolidation of CU Denver and CU Anschutz (then called the CU Health Sciences Center) into the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus (legally named the University of Colorado Denver). The two previously separate entities were consolidated into a single institution that reports certain student data in a consolidated format.  Read more about this on the CU Denver website.
  • A limited population of students at CU-Boulder applies for financial aid.
  • No salary data is available by program of study.  The college scorecard lacks enough detail to determine which programs (majors) are included in the cohorts.  Proportionally representation in the cohort is important for a balanced snapshot.  For example, if all the engineering students are included but other lower paying fields are not, it would inflate the overall results.    

Scorecard Section: Graduation & Retention

Data Source

Graduation rates for student subgroups, retention rates, tuition, cost of attendance, and net prices, and enrollment of low-income students (i.e., the number of Pell Grant recipients) are based on IPEDS data submissions.

General Limitations

IPEDS data have several important limitations for measuring institutional performance. Graduation rates are only reported for cohorts of first-time, full-time students.  Graduation rate information is not available for transfer or part-time students.

College Scorecard Links for CU Campuses