Statement of Regulatory Priorities

I. Introduction

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) supports States, local communities, institutions of higher education, and others in improving education nationwide and in helping to ensure that all Americans receive a high-quality education. We provide leadership and financial assistance pertaining to education at all levels to a wide range of stakeholders and individuals, including State educational and other agencies, local school districts, providers of early learning programs, elementary and secondary schools, institutions of higher education, career and technical schools, nonprofit organizations, postsecondary students, members of the public, families, and many others. These efforts are helping to ensure that all children and students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 will be ready for, and succeed in, postsecondary education and that students attending postsecondary institutions are prepared for a profession or career.

We also vigorously monitor and enforce the implementation of Federal civil rights laws in educational programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance, and support innovative programs, research and evaluation activities, technical assistance, and the dissemination of research and evaluation findings to improve the quality of education.

Overall, the laws, regulations, and programs that the Department administers will affect nearly every American during his or her life. Indeed, in the 2014-2015 school year, about 55 million students will attend an estimated 130,000 elementary and secondary schools in approximately 13,600 districts, and about 21 million students will enroll in degree-granting postsecondary schools. All of these students may benefit from some degree of financial assistance or support from the Department.

In developing and implementing regulations, guidance, technical assistance, and monitoring related to our programs, we are committed to working closely with affected persons and groups. Specifically, we work with a broad range of interested parties and the general public, including families, students, and educators; State, local, and tribal governments; and neighborhood groups, community-based early learning programs, elementary and secondary schools, colleges, rehabilitation service providers, adult education providers, professional associations, advocacy organizations, businesses, and labor organizations.

If we determine that it is necessary to develop regulations, we seek public participation at the key stages in the rulemaking process. We invite the public to submit comments on all proposed regulations through the Internet or by regular mail. We also continue to seek greater public participation in our rulemaking activities through the use of transparent and interactive rulemaking procedures and new technologies.

To facilitate the public's involvement, we participate in the Federal Docketing Management System (FDMS), an electronic single Government-wide access point ( that enables the public to submit comments on different types of Federal regulatory documents and read and respond to comments submitted by other members of the public during the public comment period. This system provides the public with the opportunity to submit comments electronically on any notice of proposed rulemaking or interim final regulations open for comment, as well as read and print any supporting regulatory documents.

We are continuing to streamline information collections, reduce the burden on information providers involved in our programs, and make information easily accessible to the public.

II. Regulatory Priorities

A. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as Amended

Gainful Employment. On March 25, 2014, the Secretary issued a notice of proposed rulemaking for the Federal Student Aid programs authorized under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). Specifically, the proposed regulations would amend the regulations on institutional eligibility under the HEA and the Student Assistance General Provisions to establish measures for determining whether certain postsecondary educational programs prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation, the conditions under which these educational programs remain eligible for the title IV Federal Student Aid programs, and requirements for reporting and disclosure of relevant information. The public comment period for the proposed regulations closed on May 27, 2014, and the Department published final regulations on October 31, 2014.

Pay As You Earn. On June 9, 2014, the President issued a memorandum directing the Secretary to propose regulations by June 9, 2015, that will allow additional students who borrowed Federal Direct Loans to cap their Federal student loan payments at 10 percent of their income. The memorandum further directed the Secretary to issue final regulations after considering all public comments with the goal of making the repayment option available to borrowers by December 31, 2015. On September 3, 2014, we published a notice announcing our intention to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to prepare proposed regulations governing the Federal William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. We also invited public comments regarding additional issues that should be considered for action by the negotiating committee.

Teacher Preparation. On April 25, 2014, the President directed the Department to propose a plan to strengthen America's teacher preparation programs for public comment and to publish a final rule within the next year. The Administration seeks to encourage and support States in developing systems that recognize excellence and provide all programs with information to help them improve, while holding them accountable for how well they prepare teachers to succeed in today's classrooms and throughout their careers. Specifically, the Department is preparing to issue proposed regulations under title II of the HEA that require States to provide more meaningful data in their State report cards on the performance of each teacher preparation program located in the State and to amend the regulations governing the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program to update, clarify, and improve the current regulations and align them with data reported by States under title II.

B. Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as Amended

In 2010, the Administration released the "Blueprint for Reform: The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act", the President's plan for revising the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) and replacing the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). The blueprint can be found at the following Web site:

Additionally, as we continue to work with Congress on reauthorizing the ESEA, we continue to provide flexibility on certain provisions of current law for States that are willing to embrace reform. The mechanisms we are using will ensure continued accountability and commitment to high-quality education for all students while providing States with increased flexibility to implement State and local reforms to improve student achievement.

C. Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006

In 2012, we released "Investing in America's Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education", our plan for reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (2006 Perkins Act). The Blueprint can be found at the following Web site:

The 2006 Perkins Act made important changes in Federal support for career and technical education (CTE), such as the introduction of a requirement that all States offer "programs of study." These changes helped to improve the learning experiences of CTE students but did not go far enough to systemically create better outcomes for students and employers who are competing in a 21st-century global economy. The Administration's Blueprint would usher in a new era of rigorous, relevant, and results-driven CTE shaped by four core principles: (1) Alignment; (2) Collaboration; (3) Accountability; and (4) Innovation. The Administration's Blueprint proposal reflects a commitment to promoting equity and quality across these alignment, collaboration, accountability, and innovation efforts in order to ensure that more students have access to high-quality CTE programs.

D. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

On September 18, 2013, the Secretary issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regarding local maintenance of effort (MOE) to ensure that all parties involved in implementing, monitoring, and auditing local educational agency (LEA) compliance with MOE requirements understand the rules. The Secretary intends to issue final regulations to amend the existing regulations that will clarify existing policy and make other related changes regarding: (1) the compliance standard; (2) the eligibility standard; (3) the level of fiscal effort required of an LEA in the year after it fails to maintain that effort; and (4) the consequence for a failure to maintain local effort.

E. Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law on July 22, 2014. WIOA replaced the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), including the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA), and amended the Wagner-Peyser Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act). WIOA promotes the integration of the workforce development system's four "core programs", including AEFLA and the vocational rehabilitation program under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act), into the revamped workforce development system under Title I of WIOA. In collaboration with the Department of Labor (DOL), the Department must issue an NPRM by January 18, 2015, and final regulations by January 22, 2016. The Department is working with DOL to meet this statutory deadline. The Department will also regulate on the programs it administers under the Rehabilitation Act and AEFLA that were changed by WIOA.

III. Retrospective Review of Existing Regulations

Pursuant to section 6 of Executive Order 13563, "Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review" (signed by the President on Jan. 18, 2011), the following Regulatory Identifier Numbers (RINs) have been identified as associated with retrospective review and analysis in the Department's final retrospective review of regulations plan. Some of the entries on this list may be completed actions that do not appear in The Regulatory Plan. However, more information can be found about these completed rulemakings in past publications of the Unified Agenda on in the Completed Actions section. These rulemakings can also be found on The final agency plan can be found at:


Title of Rulemaking

Do we expect this rulemaking to significantly reduce burden on small businesses?


Title I-Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged



Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities-Maintenance of Effort



American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program



Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (OSERS)



Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (OCTAE)



Titles III and V of the Higher Education Act, as Amended



Negotiated Rulemaking Under Title IV of the HEA



Gainful Employment



Violence Against Women Act



William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program


IV. Principles for Regulating

Over the next year, we may need to issue other regulations because of new legislation or programmatic changes. In doing so, we will follow the Principles for Regulating, which determine when and how we will regulate. Through consistent application of those principles, we have eliminated unnecessary regulations and identified situations in which major programs could be implemented without regulations or with limited regulatory action.

In deciding when to regulate, we consider the following:

  • Whether regulations are essential to promote quality and equality of opportunity in education.

  • Whether a demonstrated problem cannot be resolved without regulation.

  • Whether regulations are necessary to provide a legally binding interpretation to resolve ambiguity.

  • Whether entities or situations subject to regulation are similar enough that a uniform approach through regulation would be meaningful and do more good than harm.

  • Whether regulations are needed to protect the Federal interest, that is, to ensure that Federal funds are used for their intended purpose and to eliminate fraud, waste, and abuse.

    In deciding how to regulate, we are mindful of the following principles:

  • Regulate no more than necessary.

  • Minimize burden to the extent possible, and promote multiple approaches to meeting statutory requirements if possible.

  • Encourage coordination of federally funded activities with State and local reform activities.

  • Ensure that the benefits justify the costs of regulating.

  • To the extent possible, establish performance objectives rather than specify compliance behavior.

  • Encourage flexibility, to the extent possible and as needed to enable institutional forces to achieve desired results.