Education Dept. Offers Answers on ‘Gainful Employment’

Responding to criticism following the release of institution-by-institution student loan repayment data, the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday published answers to some "frequently asked questions" it has gotten since publishing the data on Aug. 13. Most of the document reiterates what the department has already said about the data and its approach to defining gainful employment, but there are some new tidbits:

  • The department says it has "not identified any errors in the programming or the data that model the results for the proposed regulation."
  • Some institutions (including, most vocally, the publicly traded Strayer University) have asserted that their students’ repayment rates were higher than those calculated by the department. The discrepancies, the department says, "may be a function of the fact that calculations are technically complicated and may be difficult to reproduce accurately" and are in part based on data institutions have not been collecting.
  • Some observers have wondered why the department did not give institutions a chance to verify the accuracy of their data before publicizing it, but the department contends that the data were intended to be "background" explaining how the gainful employment rule was developed and "not to establish the accuracy of the repayment rate calculation for any specific program or institution."


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