There are a number of organizations whose business is ensuring that colleges are toeing the mark. One of the larger of these firms is Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, or ACICS. ACICS accredits over 200 colleges, which enroll an estimated 600,000 students. Schools accredited by ACICS received around $5 billion in federal student aid last year.
It hasn't done a good job. The schools accredited by the agency on average have the lowest graduation rates in the country and their students have the lowest loan repayment rates. Perhaps, that's because two-thirds of ACICS commissioners — who make the ultimate decisions about accreditation for schools — were executives at for-profit colleges. Many of the commissioners worked at colleges that were under investigation. The Department of Education is finally removing ACICS from the list of those who can 'approve' colleges.