1-06: Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #101 - Additional Information on Alternate Earnings Appeals for Debt-to-Earnings Rates and Warnings for Programs with Failing Rates

Posted Date: January 6, 2017

Author:  Jeff Baker, Director, Policy Liaison and Implementation, Federal Student Aid

Subject: Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #101 - Additional Information on Alternate Earnings Appeals for Debt-to-Earnings Rates and Warnings for Programs with Failing Rates

In Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #100, we announced that institutions will have access to Gainful Employment (GE) Debt-to-Earnings (D/E) information on Monday, January 9.  This Electronic Announcement provides additional information on (1) D/E rate alternate earnings appeals, and (2) the student warning requirement for programs with a failing D/E rate.

Alternate Earnings Appeals

Under 34 CFR 668.406, institutions may file an alternate earnings appeal for any GE program that is in the zone or is a failing program if the use of alternate earnings would improve a zone program to passing or a failing program to either passing or zone.  Institutions seeking to appeal a zone or failing rate must email a Notice of Intent to appeal within 14 days of the issuance of Final D/E rates (on or before Monday, January 23, 2017).  When submitting its Notice of Intent, the institution must specifically identify, by name, CIP Code, and Credential Level, the failing or zone GE programs for which it is planning to submit an appeal.  Final appeal documentation must be submitted to the Department within 60 days of the issuance of Final D/E rates (on or before Friday, March 10, 2017).  For more information on alternate earnings appeals, see Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #95.

Data for an alternate earnings appeal may come from an alternate earnings survey conducted in accordance with Department-issued Standards or from a state-sponsored data system.

The Department recognizes that some state-sponsored data systems may not be able to provide earnings data for the same earnings year (calendar year 2014) used by the Department for its calculation of D/E rates.  Therefore, for this current D/E rate calculation appeal process only, institutions may use earnings data from a state-sponsored database from either calendar year 2014 or 2015. This will only be permitted for this first year of D/E calculations to give states an opportunity to adjust their data systems. For subsequent years state-sponsored data system appeals must be based on the earnings year used in the D/E rate calculations - calendar year 2015 for the 2015-2016 calculations, calendar year 2016 for the 2016-2017 calculations, etc.  This exception only applies to state-sponsored data system appeals. Alternate earnings survey appeals must still use earnings data from calendar year 2014.

Student Warnings

Under the regulations at 34 CFR 668.410, institutions have 30 days from the date of the issuance of Final D/E rates (on or before Wednesday, February 8, 2017) to provide warnings for any GE program that is at risk of losing eligibility for Title IV aid based on the program’s next D/E rates.  Under the regulations at 34 CFR 668.403(c)(4), a GE program will lose eligibility if it is a failing program in two out of three consecutive years or if it is a failing or zone program in four consecutive award years.  Therefore, for this first round of D/E rates, warnings are required for any GE program with a failing rate because that program could lose eligibility if it has a failing rate the following year.  However, under the regulations at 34 CFR 668.406(e)(2), this student warning requirement is temporarily suspended for a GE program with a complete and timely appeal (meeting both the January 23 and March 10 deadlines) pending a decision by the Department.

Contact Information

If you have questions about the information in this Electronic Announcement, contact the Gainful Employment Operations Team at [email protected].

The Gainful Employment Information Page on the IFAP website contains publications and resources on GE as well as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). If you have a policy question about the GE regulations that has not already been addressed in the FAQs section of the Gainful Employment Information Page, please submit the question to [email protected].


Publication Date: 1/9/2017

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