Next Steps For Schools with Gainful Employment Programs

ED is swiftly catching up to their original schedule for Gainful Employment and intends to send the Gainful Employment SSA Earnings Data Report institutions as soon as this week.

In Late September, ED announced that data from the Final GE Completers Lists has been sent to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Once they receive GE Program mean and median earnings amounts from the SSA, they will calculate draft Debt-to-Earnings (D/E) rates for institutions to review.

ED is urging schools with Gainful Employment Programs to ensure that they have reported on all of their GE Programs. ED cites a number of schools with discrepancies between their disbursement records, enrollment records sent to NSLDS and their GE transitional certifications/certifications from their PPA. Scathing notices from ED to schools that can’t get it together to likely follow. Let’s just say that you don’t want to be one of the schools delaying the release of the forthcoming GE Debt Measures Backup Data Files. ED indicated it would be released to institutions “later this fall”.

Meanwhile, the Systems Operations & Aid Delivery Management department of Federal Student aid is back at it again with four dazzling new Dear Colleague Letters and Electronic Announcements signaling they are beginning to move forward in the Gainful Employment process. I’ve cut through all the noise and summarized them for you below so you don’t have to search them out.

Gainful Employment Electronic Announcements #87 & #90 – We’ve got not just one, but two updates to the NSLDS Gainful Employment User Guide. The first one includes the addition of Chapter 7 – “Final GE Completers List” which provides details about the list that was sent to institutions on September 8th. The updated guide also includes Appendix D “GE Debt Measures Backup Data Record Layout”. The file layout may be used by institutions to prepare their systems to receive the GE Debt Measures Backup Data files later this year.

Chapter 4 – “GE Program Tracking” was removed from the Updated NSLDS GE User Guide in September when the GE Program Tracking functions on NSLDS were also removed in order for the Department to review the integration of data coming from COD and GE data from NSLDS. Program Tracking will be revised at some point, to offer more up-to-date information on GE Programs. No word presently as to when the functions will be released / restored.

In EA #90, FSA announced the second update to the guide of the month. This update contains a revised Appendix C “GE Completers List File Record Layout” and an again updated Appendix D “GE Debt Measures Backup Data Record Layout”. Both File Record Layouts were updated because the Debt Amount Source Indicator and the Debt Amount Fields were removed and replaced with Filler.

Always be sure to use the most recent guide which can be found here:

Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #88 – Final GE Completers Lists were distributed to schools on September 8th for institutions to review. This data was finalized by ED and sent to SSA to obtain Draft Debt-to-Earnings Rates from the agency. Draft GE Completers List Correction Results were also provided to institutions in a separate file. This additional file contains the results from the Department’s review of the Draft Completers Lists corrections that schools submitted this summer. Curious as to whether your corrections were accepted by ED? You can review the data right on NSLDS Professional Access. For the full announcement click here:

Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #89 – We knew that some institutions didn’t get the whole GE reporting thing. We knew that some schools were reporting funky data. We knew FSA would speak up sooner or later and here’s EA # 89 doing just that. This announcement reminds (clarifies for some) institutions that Completers List corrections were only for the Completers List and did not change the originally reported GE Program Data in NSLDS. Some of y’all have some corrections to make and may still be reporting GE Program Info incorrectly for GE Programs each year.

All this and other Gainful Employment Information and Resources are contained on Federal Student Aid’s GE Page Here:

Institutions with questions pertaining to this blog post or other matters of compliance with Accreditation, Federal Student Aid standards are welcome to contact our offices for additional assistance.

Peter Terebesi is the President and founder of Higher Ed Executives. You can find Peter on Twitter (@FSAPete), and reach him through the Higher Ed Executives website. You may also email

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