Gainful Employment Rules Compliance Updates

Dear Educator:

You are aware of the US Department of Education (DOE) publication in fall 2023 of new “Gainful Employment” (GE) regulations for vocational programs. These new rules are slated to affect all aid-eligible programs for program starts on or after July 1, 2024. A kicker provision in the rules eliminates program-hour flexibility: programs desiring to remain aid-eligible can no longer offer programs that exceed their state’s minimum-required educational hours—meaning the “150% rule” will become the “100% rule.”

Over the past two weeks, the DOE has issued updates to the rule packet published last fall. The first of these offered a couple more months past July 1, 2024, for schools to comply with new GE reporting requirements. Reading between the lines, this 60-day delay mostly seemed to do with the DOE needing more time to get its systems reprogrammed.

The second amendment reflects the DOE appearing to recognize that the timing posed by its new “150%–100%” regulations was not realistic. State education approval bodies and accrediting agencies are slammed—still recovering from COVID, understaffed, and unprepared to address changes impacting not just massage programs, but also dozens of other vocational training offerings. Even schools that dutifully began last fall a process of revising their programs and seeking needed approvals remain uncertain whether that process can be completed by July 1. This second DOE update would offer some more time—though still not enough—to comply, but only on a case-by-case basis.

What the new DOE amendments do not do:

  • They do not change the effective date. They will still apply to all program starts on or after July 1, 2024.
  • They do not restore the 150% program-hour rule. Going forward, starting July 1, 2024, all programs must have an hour duration that matches their state’s minimum-education hour requirement in order to remain eligible for aid.

Note the reference to “case-by-case” above. The burden is on each individual school to build a record of trying to move into compliance with the new regulations, then finding themselves stymied by the forces described above. ABMP’s advice is to get started on this process and create a record of steps you take. There are no guarantees the DOE will provide more time to comply, so a good-faith effort is the best step forward. 

Most severely impacted by these new regulations are the 23 states which, at the beginning of 2024, had a 500-hour minimum-education requirement. Efforts are underway in about one-third of those states to raise state minimum hours to 625 or 650. In some cases, state massage boards are taking the lead. In others, it is a single motivated massage school owner. If you are interested in participating in such an effort in your state, please contact ABMP at