The historical development of private and public institutions of higher education in the U.S. has produced a fragmented market in higher education comprising some 3,500 small, medium, and large public and private colleges and universities functioning in overlapping local, state, and national markets. These 3,500 institutions operate under the rules of over sixty-five accrediting associations, fifty state licensing agencies, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), and the U.S. Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration.