Source: The Washington Examiner
Residents who enroll in at least six credits can work toward their certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree completely tuition-free. As long as the students maintain a 2.5 out of 4.0 GPA, they can continue their “Opportunity Scholarship,” the titular name of the law. This applies to New Mexico’s 29 public colleges and universities.
For now, the $75 million-dollar plan has $63 million of its coronavirus relief funding. This amount will only last students one year.
“The ‘opportunity scholarship fund’ is created as a nonreverting fund in the state treasury, consisting of income from investment of the fund and any specified distributions, appropriations, gifts, grants and donations to the fund,” the bill reads. “Money in the fund is appropriated to the department for scholarship awards as provided in the Opportunity Scholarship Act.”
“New Mexico is the first state to offer free college tuition for all residents,” Sen. Ben Lujan posted to social media Tuesday. “I’m proud that we have made higher education attainable for all and I hope every other state will follow our lead.”
“I can tell you that we believe New Mexico’s Opportunity Scholarship is fantastic for the state of New Mexico and we know it will benefit many of our [New Mexico State University] students,” NMSU Vice President Justin Bannister told the Washington Examiner. “The Opportunity Scholarship helps to ease the financial burden of attending college, not just for our current students, but also for students who may have left the university before graduation and who are now interested in returning.”
Currently, state residents hold about $7 billion in student loan debt, with the average graduate owing about $34,211. Just over 10% of the state’s population has student loan debt.