There has been much debate over the past several years about the financial burden of attending college. At the same time, the growth of for-profit institutions has led some to call for more stringent regulation of access to federal financial aid. In this paper, we first review general concerns about the regulatory environment for student financial aid. We then describe a unique data source on the regulatory burden imposed on universities and colleges that administer financial aid programs of the federal government. We argue that both researchers and practitioners should focus on the regulatory environment as a window on the fuel that feeds the institutional design of universities and colleges.