New Mexico plans to offer free college to state residents

19 Septembre, 2019, 03:35 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Students walk on the campus of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque Sept. 21 2015

"This program is an absolute game changer for New Mexico", Lujan Grisham told the New York Times in a statement.

Seventeen states - including New York, Oregon and Tennessee - had programs as of 2018 that offer some form of tuition coverage to qualifying students, according to an analysis cited by the Times, but most only foot the bill at two-year colleges. "We are creating meaningful opportunity for all", she said.

Free tuition would be available at continuing education programs for older students but not for graduate studies such as medical or law school. State lawmakers would need to sign off on the proposal in order for it to go into effect.

New Mexico has traditionally been among the poorest states in the country.

Like the NY program, New Mexico also doesn't go beyond tuition.

New Mexico historically has kept tuition costs low - tuition at the University of New Mexico totals $7,556 this academic year for in-state residents, for instance. "But I've got a lot of good ideas".

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Lujan Grisham said her administration would lead efforts to increase applications for federal student aid to rein in state costs.

A similar program exists in NY, but only covers middle-class families making up to $125,000 per year for free tuition at all CUNY and SUNY two- and four-year colleges in the state. The plan will cost between $25 million and $35 million per year for the 55,000 students it's expected to benefit, per a rep from the state's Higher Education Department. "In the long run, we'll see improved economic growth, improved outcomes for New Mexican workers and families and parents, a better trained and better compensated workforce".

Poverty rates in New Mexico are the highest in the American West, and only two states nationwide have a higher unemployment rate. "Not only for the education of students but also for the broader economy of our state".

To be eligible, students who recently graduated from high schools or equivalency programs must maintain a 2.5 grade-point average. It's only the second state after NY to offer a full tuition coverage plan for eligible residents.

The Opportunity Scholarship would also cover tuition and fees at two-year community colleges for adults who want to return to college, she said. Only New York now provides tuition-free access to four-year degrees, and New Mexico's proposal as initially outlined would be more expansive by including older returning students with no exclusions based on income.

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