The Biden administration is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit from the state of Florida that argues the country’s accreditation system for higher education is unconstitutional.
“Florida challenges writ large the constitutionality of the accreditation system that has existed for decades and seeks sweeping relief that would mandate the federalization of education standards,” the administration argued in a motion to dismiss. “But each of Florida’s constitutional claims fails at the outset and should be dismissed.”
Florida’s lawsuit is seeking to dismantle the system of accreditation, which the state has taken issue with. Currently, federal law requires that colleges and universities be accredited by an Education Department–recognized accreditor in order to receive federal student aid such as Pell Grants. Florida law now requires public colleges and universities to change accreditors every 10 years—a process that requires Education Department approval.
The state filed the lawsuit partly as an attempt to force the department to speed up its review process. When the department approved one institution’s request to change accreditors last month, state officials declared victory.
So far, seven Florida institutions have filed requests for approval to change accreditors. Those are the College of the Florida Keys, the College of Central Florida, the University of Central Florida, Florida SouthWestern State College, Florida Polytechnic University, Chipola College and Palm Beach State College.
Florida SouthWestern and Florida Keys have gotten the green light from the Education Department, according to an affidavit submitted with the motion to dismiss.