NASFAA Contributes to Congressionally Mandated Study on Regulatory Burden

The final report from the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education was released  last week, with NASFAA’s input on regulatory burden informing several of the conclusions. Commissioned by a bipartisan group of senators and developed under the direction of the American Council on Education (ACE), the report, "Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities," discusses specific regulations of concern and offers recommendations for improving the regulatory process.

Specifically, the report highlights and explains concerns with the following regulatory issues related--both directly and tangentially--to student financial aid:

  • Verification of student eligibility for financial aid
  • Return of Title IV funds
  • Financial responsibility standards
  • Institutional accreditation
  • State authorization of distance education programs
  • Consumer information
  • Regulations unrelated to education, safety or stewardship

NASFAA assisted the task force with the development and description of these problematic regulations through the sharing of prior work on regulatory burden, including the 2010 NASFAA Administrative Burden Survey Report  and 2013 white paper on concerns related to the underestimation of regulatory burden, "Getting it Right: Analyzing the Accuracy of Federal Burden Estimates for Title IV Financial Aid Compliance." 

The latter part of the new ACE report discusses the flaws in the development of regulation: “The higher education community believes that the Department of Education consistently and substantially underestimates the costs and burdens of its rules. Various groups, including the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Congressionally created Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, have raised concerns about the processes through which the Department derives estimates associated with its regulations.”

The report offers recommendations for improving the regulatory process, including calling for improvement in the selection of negotiators and agenda setting in the negotiated rulemaking process. In addition, the report calls for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the Department of Education’s estimates of its administrative burden on colleges and universities. The report also calls for the creation of clear regulatory safe harbors in order to ensure a level of certainty for institutions.  

NASFAA applauds the work of this task force. “Unnecessary administrative requirements take financial aid professionals away from what is truly crucial: helping students access college and succeed while they’re enrolled and after they graduate,” NASFAA President Justin Draeger said. “We welcome Congressional scrutiny of this vital issue and look forward to working with ACE and others to help streamline and eliminate unnecessary and duplicative administrative requirements.


Publication Date: 2/17/2015

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