Committee Hears More on Regulatory Burden

October 3, 2011

WASHINGTON -- The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, which recently gathered hundreds of complaints about federal regulation for a draft report on regulatory burdens, heard more from college administrators about those burdens at its meeting Friday. The committee is charged with identifying federal regulations that are redundant, unnecessary, inconsistent or “overly burdensome," and those that need to be changed or eliminated, and a survey of more than 2,000 college officials found plenty of suggestions.

At the committee, panels of executive officers and office administrators continued that refrain, saying that Higher Education Act regulations are so sprawling that no one person on any campus can keep track of them all and judge which are the most costly or burdensome. Information disclosures came in for particular criticism: Sanford Ungar, president of Goucher College, read a laundry list of information that colleges are required to disclose annually, including reports on fire safety, peer-to-peer file sharing, net price and many others.

Participants had a few suggestions for reducing the burden of regulations, although both the committee and the panelists acknowledged that the pace of increased regulation is faster than deregulation would be. Ungar suggested a "pay-go" system, where for every new regulation added, another would have to be eliminated. Others advocated for sector-based regulation, where different rules would apply to different types of colleges.

And while many respondents in the committee's report supported further study, a comprehensive review will be lengthy and costly, said Troy Johnson, vice provost for enrollment at the University of North Texas. "It's fine to study further, yet in the meantime we should immediately seize all of the knowledge and recommendations" and make some progress on deregulation, Johnson said.

The committee is on track to deliver a final report to Congress by the end of the year, chairman Allison Jones said.

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