The U.S. Department of Education (ED) rescinded Gainful Employment (GE) effective July 2020. In a long-expected move, the Education Department finalized its repeal of an Obama-era regulation that threatened to cut off federal student aid to vocational programs whose graduates consistently have high loan payments relative to their income.
Education Department officials successfully argued that transparency, not regulation, is the best way to hold all schools — public nonprofits, community colleges and for-profits — accountable for their results.
Instead of any accountability measures, the Education Department expanded an existing database, called the College Scorecard, to provide information on student debt and earnings prospects. The College Scorecard database, provides information, including loan debt information, for 2,200 certificate granting programs.
About Gainful Employment
As part of the Gainful Employment regulations (79 FR 64890) established by the U.S. Department of Education an institution must provide current and prospective students with information about each of its programs that prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation (GE programs) using a disclosure template provided by the Secretary.
Generally, GE Programs include:
- At public and private not-for-profit institutions: Title IV-eligible non-degree programs (e.g., certificate and diploma programs).
- At for-profit institutions: All Title-IV eligible instructional programs, degree and non-degree.
Under the current disclosure requirements, an institution must provide current and prospective students with information about each of its programs that prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation (GE programs) using a disclosure template provided by the Secretary.
Generally, in order to be eligible for funding under the Higher Education Act Title IV student assistance programs, an educational program must lead to a degree at a non-profit or public institution or it must prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” Therefore, with very few exceptions, any non-degree program offered by non-profit or public institutions and all educational programs offered at for-profit institutions must lead to gainful employment.
The disclosure of information about a gainful employment program on the institution’s Web site will provide useful information to prospective students and their families. The intent of the provisions in 34 CFR 668.412 is to enable students to make an informed choice about a gainful employment program by making the disclosures clear, timely, meaningful, and comparable. These disclosures will allow students to easily view the amount of student indebtedness incurred by students who completed the gainful employment program, the average costs of attending the program, percent of students completing the program within normal time, and job placement rates.
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