Common Sense Regulations

At the Department of Education, our goal is to support state and local education reform and to ensure young adults meet the President’s goal of leading the world in college completion by the end of the decade. Everything we do is aligned with achieving these goals. Through the Race to the Top Fund, we are supporting state-based efforts to create comprehensive reform, starting with early learning programs and continuing through high school. With the largest increase in student aid since the G.I. Bill, we’re making college affordable to millions of students.

To support our work, we recognize that we must create an effective and cost-efficient regulatory framework. To reduce the burden of federal regulations, the Department has made significant changes to several programs and in response to President Obama’s executive order, the Department has created a Preliminary Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Rules that will help guide us as we continue the important work developing common sense rules and regulations.

The Department has already begun this work to simplify regulations to reduce the burden on students and educators. For example:

  • We have made it significantly easier for families to apply for federal student aid, saving an estimated 5 million hours of work by eliminating unnecessary questions and streamlining the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Our team also will be revising student loan regulations now that the Department is the source of all new loans. Through this process, we will eliminate unnecessary regulations and streamline existing ones to make it easier for colleges to manage loans and for students to receive them.

Our efforts to re-evaluate and simplify existing regulations will continue. We have formed a team that will regularly review our regulations for all of our programs. President Obama has called on the federal government to strike the right balance when developing regulations. At the Department of Education, we are aligning all of our regulations with the ultimate goal of providing America’s students with a world-class education.

You can read our preliminary plan and the plans of other agencies at

Arne Duncan


  1. Secretary Duncan,

    I believe the education system should be geared more toward embracing each student’s individual strengths, talents, and passions. Academics are fantastic for sharpening the mind and instilling certain analytical thinking skills in our kids.

    Unfortunately, by the time many of these children leave school, they have absolutely no direction and their creativity has been stifled by a sort of “stay-inline” stucture that never really allows our kids to feel as though they’ve got a voice or purpose.

    Unfortunately, they end up receiving the bulk of their affirmation from peers, who are also lost and feeling “unheard.”

    Thanks for your time.

  2. Dear Secretary Duncan,
    If you want education reform to bring about creativity innovation and entrepreneurial attitude, you should reform the way in which we measure progress and move on to a peer review assessment methodology AKA authentic assessment, which evaluates actual student projects and portfolios.

  3. Dear Duncan,

    Why doesn’t the federal government pass a law mandating a HS diploma or school attendance till the age of 18?

    With all of the problems of jobs and competitiveness why do we let a 16 year old make a decision on whether or not to stay in school – that is insane!

    The emotional maturity of teens today is less each generation and they are being allowed to make a decision that could negatively affect the rest of their lives.

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