Gainful Employment | Federal Student Aid

Gainful Employment

Gainful Employment Information

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 school or it must prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation." With very few exceptions, all educational programs offered at for-profit institutions must lead to gainful employment (GE) in a recognized occupation.

Under 34 CFR 668.404(c) of the GE regulations, the Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates and returns to the Department the mean and median annual earnings of a cohort of students who completed the GE program during a specified cohort period.

At least 10 completers from a program must be matched for SSA to return mean and median earnings information. In calculating a GE program's Debt to Earnings rates, the Department uses the higher of the SSA-reported mean or median earnings. SSA does not provide the Department individual earnings data or the identity of any students.

Earnings data from the 2014 calendar year is available for informational purposes only. Information on the earnings data spreadsheet includes OPEID and institution name, program identifiers (Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code, credential level, and CIP code program name), the number of completers matched with earnings data by SSA, along with both the median and mean SSA earnings for the GE program.

You can also access the 2011 Gainful Employment Informational Rate data. These data were prepared to provide institutions and the Department with preliminary information about the performance of institutions' gainful employment programs based on the 2011 Gainful Employment regulations, which have since been vacated. The Department will provide final GE Debt-to-Earnings Rates, based on the calculations in the 2014 regulations, in January 2017. Access the archived 2011 Gainful Employment Informational Rate Downloadable Spreadsheet.