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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

ED Helps Institutions Determine Gainful Employment Programs

June 27, 2011

With the July 1 implementation deadline for most of the program integrity regulations rapidly approaching, the Department of Education has continued to receive numerous questions from institutions asking if certain programs are gainful employment programs. In response, on June 24 ED issued an Electronic Announcement with a series of questions and answers to help determine if programs qualify.

Prior to the June 24 announcement, ED published a Dear Colleague letter (GEN-11-10) on April 20 that clarified which programs at institutions were considered gainful employment programs. Following that, an Electronic Announcement was issued on May 20 correcting some information in the April 20 letter related to teacher preparation programs. Even with both documents providing substantial guidance, some campus officials were still confused, so the June 24 announcement largely reiterates and simplifies the earlier advice. ED summarizes its categorization of programs offered by nonprofit and public institutions as follows:

  • All educational programs that lead to a degree awarded are not gainful employment programs.
  • Virtually all non-degree educational programs are gainful employment programs.

Beginning July 1, institutions are required to provide new disclosures to students and prospective students about each gainful employment program offered, and must request approval from ED before offering new gainful employment programs in order for the program to be eligible for federal student aid.

ED has created a comprehensive Gainful Employment resource page complete with copies of the regulations, Dear Colleague letters, Electronic Announcements , and a series of FAQs.


Bryan Dickson
Senior Policy Analyst