Posted Date: June 11, 2015
Robin Minor, Chief Compliance Officer, Federal Student Aid
Subject: Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #54 - Certification Requirements for Gainful Employment Programs
This Electronic Announcement provides institutions with information on two important regulatory requirements related to their gainful employment programs (GE programs). First, it reminds institutions of the regulatory requirement that they must ensure that the Department has an accurate listing of their Title IV-eligible GE programs. GE programs are those educational programs that, under sections 101(b)(1) and 102(b) and (c) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (the HEA), “prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” See Electronic Announcement #53 (What is a Gainful Employment Program?) posted to IFAP on May 20, 2015. Second, this Electronic Announcement provides instructions for institutions on the GE program certifications that they must provide to the Department.
GE Program Updating
Under the regulations at 34 CFR 600.10(c) and 600.21(a), each institution must update information about its GE programs using the “Application for Approval to Participate in Federal Student Financial Aid Programs” (E-App) so that its Eligibility and Certification Approval Report (ECAR) is current. For information on completing the E-App, contact the School Participation Division for your region.
GE Program Certifications
Under the regulations at 34 CFR 668.414, each institution must certify that each Title IV-eligible GE program that it offers:
Is approved by a recognized accrediting agency or is otherwise included in the institution’s accreditation by its recognized accrediting agency or, if the institution is a public postsecondary vocational institution, is approved by a State agency recognized to approve such programs in lieu of accreditation;
Is programmatically accredited if such accreditation is required by a Federal governmental entity or by a governmental entity in the State in which the institution is located or in which the institution is otherwise required to obtain State approval under 34 CFR 600.9; and
- In the State in which the institution is located or in which the institution is otherwise required to obtain State approval under 34 CFR 600.9, satisfies the applicable educational prerequisites for professional licensure or certification requirements in that State so that a student who completes the program and seeks employment in that State qualifies to take any licensure or certification examination that is needed for the student to practice or find employment in an occupation that the program prepares students to enter.
Consistent with Subpart Q of the Student Assistance General Provisions, for new GE programs for which the institution seeks to establish eligibility for Title IV, HEA program funds, an institution must also certify that the program is not substantially similar to a program offered by the institution that, in the prior three years, became ineligible for Title IV, HEA program funds under the debt-to-earnings (D/E) rates measure or was failing, or in the zone with respect to, the D/E rates measure and was voluntarily discontinued by the institution. For these purposes, a program is substantially similar to another program if the programs share the same four-digit Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code.
Deadlines and Submission Requirements:
Currently Participating Institutions that offer GE programs must submit to the Department a Transitional Certification no later than December 31, 2015, unless the institution has submitted an E-App that resulted, or will result, in a new Program Participation Agreement (PPA) executed between July 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015. Those PPAs will have the required GE program certification included, therefore no Transitional Certification will be required. Instructions for submitting a Transitional Certification are provided in an attachment to this Electronic Announcement.
New or Returning Institutions that have an E-App in process for Initial Certification or Reinstatement will have the required certifications included in the PPA that results from that application.
In all instances, prior to signing the PPA, the institution should verify that all of its GE programs are listed on the E-App and that the institution’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) can make the required certification regarding all of the GE programs listed. If the institution needs to make changes to the E-App, it should contact the School Participation Division Analyst processing the application.
On an ongoing basis the Department will monitor the certifications for accuracy and completeness.
After the transitional certification requirement has been met, an institution adding or revising GE program information on an E-App that does not result in a new PPA will need to provide a new certification each time the E-App is updated. This includes when establishing the eligibility or reestablishing the eligibility of a program; discontinuing a program’s eligibility under 34 CFR 668.410; ceasing to provide a program for at least 12 consecutive months; losing program eligibility under 34 CFR 600.40; or changing a program’s name, CIP code, or credential level.
If you have questions about the information in this announcement or in the attached sample certification statement, contact the School Eligibility Service Group at (202) 377-3173. You may also email GECertification@ed.gov.