All Non-Degree and Certificate Programs Are Subject to Gainful Employment Rules

Think that gainful employment rules don’t apply to public or private non-profit institutions? Think again! Gainful employment rules apply to all non-degree programs, including certificate programs, offered by public and non-profit institutions and virtually all academic programs offered by proprietary institutions.

For more on these regulations, check out NASFAA's summary of the Gainful Employment regulations in the Program Integrity resource center.

At public and non-profit institutions, the following Title-IV eligible programs are subject to gainful employment regulations:

  • Nondegree programs, including all certificate programs. Certificate programs include undergraduate certificate programs, postbaccalaureate certificate programs, graduate certificate programs, and postgraduate certificate programs
  • Teacher certification programs, including both programs that result in a certificate awarded by the institution and those where the institution itself does not provide a certificate but which consist of a collection of course work necessary for the student to receive a State professional teaching credential or certification.
  • Approved "Comprehensive Transition Programs" for students with intellectual disabilities. 

While the financial aid community awaits final rules on certain aspects of gainful employment requirements, the Department of Education (ED) did issue final rules related to gainful employment disclosures, reporting, and new programs. Those require that an institution:

  • Report certain information about students who enrolled in Title IV-eligible educational programs subject to gainful employment rules
  • Disclose to prospective students certain information about gainful employment programs
  • Notify ED if it wishes to add gainful employment programs to its list of Title IV-eligible programs.

All of these requirements are effective July 1, 2011. The first report about students enrolled in Title IV-eligible gainful employment programs is due on October 1, 2011. ED will be hosting webinars about these specific gainful employment requirements on May 25 and 26, 2011.

ED has issued a Dear Colleague Letter explaining the requirements that are effective on July 1, 2011 and a Frequently Asked Questions document. These are posted on ED’s gainful employment information page.


Publication Date: 5/19/2011

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