Gainful Employment Programs

Beginning July 1, 2011, the US Department of Education (USDoE) requires colleges to disclose a variety of information for any program eligible for the federal government’s Title IV financial aid funds that prepares students for Gainful Employment (GE) in a recognized occupation that meets their criteria.

For private non-profit institutions, the most common educational programs that are eligible to be a GE program are those that issue certificates or certification. USDoE specifically states that educational programs are not GE programs if

  • The coursework leads to a degree, including associates, bachelor's, graduate, or professional (e.g., MD, DDS, DVM, JD)
  • The coursework does not lead to a degree, certificate, or other credential awarded by the institution, because the program is not eligible for Title IV aid.

Eligibility, and other information on GE programs including updates, is posted by USDoE on their Gainful Employment Information Page where it states that most non-degree educational programs at non-profit private institutions are GE-eligible programs. USDoE’s Announcement #11 includes the following criteria to determine if educational programs are eligible to be GE programs:

  • If the institution wishes to have students in the educational program to be, or remain, eligible for Title IV aid, and
  • The program leads to a certificate, or other credential awarded by the institution (e.g. undergraduate certificate programs, post-baccalaureate certificate programs, graduate certificate programs, and postgraduate certificate programs). Awarding students one or more certificates as part of a degree program does not create GE programs based upon the awarding of the certificate(s). USDoE has indicated that if a student can earn the certificate without completing the degree, then the certificate program is a GE program (but USDoE will clarify this further).

In a May 20, 2011 announcement, USDoE stated: Teacher certification programs 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 are not gainful employment programs and therefore not subject to the GE Programs’ disclosure and reporting requirements.  This announcement corrects an earlier announcement that erroneously stated that teaching certificates issued by the state were included.

Additional information on determining whether a program is considered a GE program is provided in a June 24, 2011 announcement.

Lehigh University is committed to providing current and prospective students with the information they need to make informed educational and career decisions. Our teacher certification programs are not considered Gainful Employment programs by USDoE, and none of our other certificate programs are of sufficient length for students to be eligible for Title IV funds, so we do not have any programs that qualify as gainful employment programs. If you have any questions regarding this program and what it means to you as a student, please feel free to contact the Office of the Provost at

updated: November 29, 2011

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