2019 Gainful Employment


In draft regulations developed over the course of the negotiations, ED planned sweeping changes to the 2015 regulations, including expanding the rule to all programs — not just those that prepare students for gainful employment — and eliminating nearly all repercussions related to poor debt-to-earnings metrics. The proposed draft regulations would instead rely solely on transparency measures, with no accountability framework for programs that didn't meet debt-to-earnings metrics, to inform students about whether a program was likely to provide them with adequate income to pay down debt they incurred to complete the program.

After negotiators failed to reach consensus, ED opted to rescind the gainful employment regulations in full in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and subsequently, Final Rules. 

ED's rationale behind the rescission was that the D/E rates measure was an inaccurate and unreliable proxy for program quality, that the D/E rates thresholds lacked an empirical basis, and that  the disclosures required by the GE regulations included some data, such as job placement rates, that are highly unreliable and may not provide the information that students and families need to make informed decisions about higher education options.

ED also cited that, since the Social Security Administration (SSA) had not signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department to share earnings data, the Department was unable, as of the date of the rescission, to calculate D/E rates, which serve as the basis of the 2014 Rule's accountability framework.

NASFAA Summary of Final Rules

Department of Education Resources

NASFAA Public Comments

NASFAA Coverage of the 2019 Gainful Employment Process

Other Resources


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