The federal higher education rulemaking process develops policies that can profoundly affect college students, higher education institutions, and other actors in the higher education policy community. But little has been researched about the influence that different types of actors have on higher education rulemaking. By analyzing interviews with 55 policy and higher education actors as well as reviewing documents, news articles, and websites, this case study examines the involvement and influence of different types of policy actors in higher education rulemaking. This research finds that federal bureaucrats, congressional officials, White House officials, and certain interest groups consistently participate in, and are often influential over, the higher education rulemaking process; however, no one category of actor consistently dominates the rulemaking process. Political actors are particularly influential in high-profile rules with easy-to-understand subject matters. In highly technical and less prominent rules, bureaucrats and certain interest groups often exercise greater power. This research illustrates the importance of understanding policy subject matter in determining which actors exercise the most power, and suggests that no single theory of bureaucratic policymaking is consistently correct about the types of actors that tend to control regulatory outcomes.