Data Dictionary | Upcoming Certification Deadlines | What's New | Possible Projects / Enhancements

SCARF is a bulk data Extraction Transfer and Load (ETL) system for OUS Institutional Research. SCARF is an important source of information for the OUS Institutional Research Information System (IRIS).

SCARF is also the basis for many of the IPEDS reports for OUS institutions including:Completions, 12-month Enrollment, Human Resources, Student Financial Aid, Fall Enrollment, and Graduation Rates

From the "IPEDS New Keyholder Handbook 2014-2015" (PDF):

"As an IPEDS keyholder, responsible for the submission of all IPEDS data for your institution, you have an important job. The quality and accuracy of your institution’s IPEDS data depend on you. 


The completion of all IPEDS surveys, in a timely and accurate manner, is mandatory for all institutions that participate in or are applicants for participation in any Federal financial assistance program authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Submitting IPEDS data accurately and on time ensures that your institution will meet its Program Participation Agreement for participation in Title IV federal student financial aid programs with the US Department of Education. In this way, your institution will avoid fines and other possible penalties for noncompliance with IPEDS reporting requirements. 


IPEDS data are a public face of your institution. They are used by students and parents, through the College Navigator website, to aid in the college search process; at the federal, state, and local level for policy analysis and development; by institutions for benchmarking and peer analysis; and by professional associations, private businesses, and the media."


Data Dictionary

The SCARF Data Dictionary (SDD) defines the layout, content and process for the transfer of data between the seven institutions and OUS-IR. The current SCARF Data Dictionary is the document that is in effect for current submissions. Also included below are previous versions of the Data Dictionary for reference.

Current Scarf Data Dictionary 2013-14 (Updated August 20, 2013)

Upcoming SCARF Certification Deadlines

July 31, 2014 EOY Dual Credit Grade Re-submit 2013-14
September 1, 2014 EOY Degree Primary 2013-14
September 30, 2014 EOT Summer End of Term 2014-15
October 31, 2014 WK4 Fall Fourth Week 2014-15
November 20, 2014 FAEOY Financial Aid EOY 2013-14
January 2, 2015 EOT Fall End of Term 2014-15
January 15, 2015 EOY Degree Supplemental 2013-14
March 31, 2015 EOT Winter End of Term 2014-15
June 23, 2015 EOT Spring End of Term 2014-15

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What's New?

SCARF 1977 (May 22, 2014): The more things change the more they stay the same.  Here is one from the archives:

SCARF Data Dictionary Update (August 20, 2013): This SCARF update will be effective summer 2013. Please click here to download the August, 2013 SCARF Changes document.

SCARF Data Dictionary Update (June 30, 2011): Our annual major SCARF update will be effective summer 2011. Please click here to download the June 30th SCARF Changes document.

2011 SIS Coordinator's Meeting (May 19, 2011): Thank you to those who were able to come to this year's SIS Coordinator's Meeeting (click here for minutes). OUS demonstrated campus access to the SCARF data in our central warehouse. Please contact Arron Frerichs for more information. There are significant SCARF revisions in preparation for some upcoming IPEDS changes and to fix existing data problems. The revised SCARF Data Dictionary is now online with all changes listed in Appendix A. A listing of the changes is available here. To be added to the scarf-l list to receive notifications of changes and important issues, please send an email to

SCARF Data Dictionary Update (June 30, 2010):We are making some changes to the SCARF Data Dictionary which will be effective summer 2010. Most of these changes will be to the financial aid section, but we also need to make some changes due to CIP 2010 and the now required RACE_ETHNICITY table. Please click here to download the June 30th SCARF Changes document.

New Fields in Financial Aid (November 4, 2009):We have added two data elements to the financial aid tables our office collects via SCARF: (1) The annual amount of aid the student accepted, and (2) The living arrangement used to figure the student's financial aid package (on campus, off campus with family, or off campus not with family). We have added these two elements in response to changes to the IPEDS Student Financial Aid Survey. Even though our office does not complete the IPEDS-SFA for the system's campuses, we want our own financial aid reporting to be consistent.

 Race/Ethnicity Memo (July 31, 2009): In response to questions about the new race RACE_ETHNICITY table and its requirements, please click here for the May 5th memo from Tom North describing the change to SCARF in more detail.

New Race/Ethnicity Section Added (May 5, 2009): In summer 2009 we will introduce a new SCARF table, RACE_ETHNICITY, to collect Hispanic/Latino ethnicity and multiple races in a single table. Optional for the 2009-10 academic year. Please see the dictionary for details on when the section will be required.

2008 SIS Coordinator's Meeting (April 23, 2008): We had a very productive SIS Coordinator's Meeeting (click here for minutes) where we discussed and fleshed out several changes to the SCARF submission. The financial aid section saw some significant revision, and a new section, MAJOR_VALIDATION, was added to collect more detail on the available majors at OUS institutions. The revised SCARF Data Dictionary is now online with all changes listed in Appendix A. A listing of the changes is available here. To be added to the scarf-l list to receive notifications of changes and important issues, please send an email to

Are you a member of the SCARF-L mailing list? Most of our notices and communication are sent to the scarf-l mailing list. You can request to be added to this list at:

Did you know? Files can be submitted for validation early, even as early as the second week of the term. IR will perform the ETL process and return the standard report. This gives time to deal with problems or Data Quality (DQ) issues. Also early testing gives time to get the work done outside the 4th week or EOT crunch.

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Possible projects and SCARF enhancements

Online Validation tables: The SCARF system validates the incoming data against meta-data (MD) tables. To help distribute the list of valid data we want to create a system to access the current meta-data.

XML Data file format: The current flat file is a pain to work with. Every time an item is change coding needs to be identified, updated, and verified at both ends of the ETL process. If we moved to XML the system would be more flexible, dynamic, and possibly have more uses. Anyone want to test this with us? (e-mail Arron)

New Report format: The SCARF audit identified a system to formally validate and approval the submission by the institution was necessary. To facilitate this the old kluged reports that were sent back to the institutions will not work. We will try to design an new XML format for the data returned in the report with a web application that institutions will be able to log into to view and approve the submission. If anyone would like to have input or ideas or would like to test this just e-mail Arron.

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