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Gainful Employment

Gainful employment generally refers to work done for pay (vs. work done without pay, e.g., volunteer work, an unpaid internship, or cooperative education experience, known as a “co-op”). This work done for pay may or may not result in a profit, meaning the costs of doing the work may be greater than the pay received. For example, a worker’s costs for transportation to and from work and child care while working may be greater than his or her take-home income. In this situation, the worker would still be considered to have gainful employment, even though he or she may not actually make money after he or she accounts for the costs of working.

While gainful employment is usually defined as any work that would typically be ...

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