SURDS Full-Time Retention Cohort File Description

Page Last Modified on May 10, 2013

The SURDS Retention Cohort file is a file posted by the Department of Higher Education summarizing an institution's cohort pertaining to specified criteria (retention cohort). These cohorts are specifically used in calculating retention rates for the annual Graduation Rates & Retention Report. It is the institution's responsibility to review the cohort and document any discrepancies. Once all of the data in the cohort has been reviewed, the file should be "Signed Off" to document agreement in the cohort.

The retention cohort is used as the starting point for the one-year institutional and statewide graduation rates.  Institutions may modify the cohort to add a corrected student ID or exclude the student from the cohort.

Data Source

  • SURDS Fall Enrollment

Selection Criteria

All institutions - Cohorts are based on students who were:

  • Enrollment data in Fall term
  • First-Time (Determined by registration status)
    • Enrolled and first-time in fall term, OR
    • Enrolled in fall term and first-time in summer directly preceding fall term
  • Full-time
    • 12 or more credit hours attempted during fall term
    • (Resident instruction (RI) + Extended Studies Program (ESP) + Other; Vocational hours are included in RI or other hours)
  • Degree-seeking
    • Degree Level not blank

Four-year institutions:

  • Degree intent = baccalaureate-seeking;

Two-year institutions:

  • Degree intent = certificate or associate seeking;

Institutional Review

Each institution shall review the cohort to verify that each student meets the criteria described above. When the cohort file is first loaded by DHE, all student records are included in the cohort. The cohort may be modified with institutional objections..

Cohort Modifications


  • Change in Student ID – An institution may modify the cohort by adding a corrected student identification number to the cohort data
    • If there has been a correction to the student ID, either because it was misreported in the original enrollment data, OR
    • The original data contained an institutional identifier and a statewide or federal identifier is now available
  • Exclusions – An institution may exclude students from the cohort for any of the reasons listed below, as it has been confirmed through institutional processes or other available data
    • 01 - Joined the military
    • 02 - Volunteered for official church mission
    • 03 - Served with a foreign service of federal government
    • 04 - Died or permanently disabled
    • 05 – Student ID Change
    • 06 – Transfer, confirmed transfer to another institution
    • 07 – Continuing, Still enrolled at the institution, misreported as first-time
    • 08 - Non-Degree Seeking at the time
    • 09 – High School Concurrent at the time, misreported as first-time

Submitting Objections

From the "Report" web page (On the main page, click the number of records link for the particular cohort):

  1. Download and review the entire cohort. The cohort is available in both Excel and Text file format.
  2. If student data is found on the cohort that requires action, changes can be requested online.

    Individual objection: From the report web page, enter a valid (9-digit) student ID into the appropriate text box, select an explanation from the drop-down box and click the Submit button.

    Multiple (batch) objections: Objections may also be submitted in batch mode (multiple rows at one time) using a fixed-length file layout. In the large textbox specified for "batch" processing, enter data as specified below:
    • Column 1 : Current student ID, alphanumeric, 9-digits, REQUIRED
    • Column 10: Objection code, alphanumeric, 2-digits, REQUIRED
    • Column 12: SSN Change, alphanumeric, 9-digits, OPTIONAL IF SSN CHANGE CODE SPECIFIED
    • Sample:

      If the above example, "000111234" is the first ID and code "01" submitted. This will flag student "000111234" as code "01" which is having "joined the military service."

      If the above example, "555234567" is the second ID and code "04" submitted. This will flag student "555234567" as code "04" which is "died or permanently disabled."

      If the above example, "111222333" is the third ID and code "05" submitted. This will flag student "111222333" as code "05" which is "SSN Change" and the new SSN was submitted as "777888999".

If there is an objection that is not available from the selections available, please contact DHE staff for consideration as a valid objection category.

DHE Review

At this time, each disputed record will cause an error on the file that denotes attention by the Department of Higher Education staff. Once DHE addresses the objection, the errors will be removed.

Department staff will review the objections submitted by the institutional staff and evaluate the data surrounding the objection. If the objection is accepted, the error on the file will be removed and the objection will be noted as "Accepted" by the Department. If the objection is rejected, based on supporting data, the objection will be noted.

Should an institution need further clarification on the rejection, please contact DHE.

Once the cohort file is in agreement, the institution should sign off on the cohort file.