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New Mexico Plans to Offer Free College to In-State Residents

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The state of New Mexico is planning a groundbreaking program that will make college education more accessible to all residents. On Wednesday, September 18, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a plan that would make college tuition free for all residents of the state, according to the New York Times.

The program, called the Opportunity Scholarship, would allow tuition for in-state students at any of the state’s 29 two- or four-year public colleges and universities regardless of their income.

Its annual cost is projected between $25 million to $35 million.

“We’re giving money directly to students,” Carmen Lopez-Wilson, the deputy secretary of New Mexico’s Higher Education Department, said. “This is the best way to begin rebuilding the infrastructure of higher education in New Mexico.”

New Mexico would put the Opportunity Scholarship into place beginning the fall 2020 semester.

“This program is an absolute game-changer for New Mexico,” Governor Grisham said in a statement. “In the long run, we’ll see improved economic growth, improved outcomes for New Mexican workers and families and parents. Higher education in this state, a victim of the recession, has been starved in recent years.

“New Mexicans of every income, of every background, of every age, we are putting students first. We are creating meaningful opportunity for all.”

From the report:

The new program in New Mexico would be open to recent graduates of high schools or high school equivalency programs in the state, and students must maintain a 2.5 grade point average. In contrast to other states, like Georgia, that have curbed access to public colleges by unauthorized immigrants, New Mexico would open the tuition program to all residents, regardless of immigration status.

The program comes at a time when there is growing support for tuition-free college across the country. A number of Democratic presidential candidates have introduced plans that would cut the cost of college while others have suggested public state schools should be free.

New Mexico is just ahead of the curve.


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