Gov. Lujan Grisham announces plan making college free for state residents

New Mexico
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE)- On Wednesday, the governor announced a proposal that would make tuition at public colleges in New Mexico free for all state residents.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham made the announcement at the 2019 New Mexico Higher Education Summit at Central New Mexico Community College. The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship, which still requires legislative approval, would be available to recent high school graduates or those in high school equivalency programs in New Mexico.

The program will cover any tuition and fees not paid for by federal grants or by the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship. In a press release, the lottery scholarship is said to leave an unpaid tuition gap between 25 and 40% for some college students depending on the institution.

The program would be open to all residents regardless of family income and students would need to maintain a 2.5-grade point average as well as adults wanting to return to school at community colleges. The proposal would be available at all 29 of New Mexico’s two-year and four-year public colleges.

According to the New Mexico Higher Education Department, the program would benefit around 55,000 students each year and would cost between $25 million to $35 million annually.

“Higher education in this state, a victim of the recession, has been starved in recent years. We are pivoting to a robust investment in higher learning – specifically and directly in our students. By covering the last dollar of tuition and fees, by making college significantly more accessible to Ne Mexicans of every income, of every background, of every age, we are putting students first. We are creating meaningful opportunity for all,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham in a press release.

New Mexico’s proposal would be similar to New York’s Excelsior Scholarship in that it would cover the cost of tuition and would only be available after the student draws from existing federal grants and state aid. Funds would not cover living expenses.

New York is the only other state that provides full-tuition coverage to its residents.

This is a developing story. KRQE News 13 will provide updates as they are made available.

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