Governor signs law making college tuition-free

Statement from the Governor’s Office

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday signed Senate Bill 140, the New Mexico Scholarship Act, making tuition free for most New Mexicans and establishing the New Mexico Scholarship Program. most extensive tuition-free studies in the United States. The governor signed the legislation alongside students in a ceremony at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, where more than 125 students have already benefited from the scholarship.

“For more than a quarter century, New Mexico has been a national leader in providing tuition-free colleges to its residents. A fully-funded opportunity scholarship opens the door for every new Mexican to reach higher, strengthening our economy, our families, and our communities,” Governor Lujan Grisham noted. “Signing this legislation sends a clear message to new Mexicans that we believe in them and the contributions they will make to their families and to the future of our great state.”

Senate Bill 140 was sponsored by Senator Liz Stefanics and Representative Joy Garratt.

The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship, implemented by Administration Lujan Grisham in 2020, is the only publicly funded scholarship program in the country to include both recent high school graduates and learners returning adults; accommodate part-time students; include professional training certificates, associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees; and cover summer school. In addition to covering full tuition and fees at public colleges and universities across the state, the scholarship allows students to accumulate federal aid such as Pell grants, local scholarships, and private scholarships to that they can use these funds to pay for books, materials, housing, food, transportation, childcare and other university fees.

“With the Opportunity Scholarship Act, New Mexico has made history and set a national example of how states can break down barriers for students around the world,” Department of Higher Education Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez noted. “This would not have been possible without the leadership of Governor Lujan Grisham, the advocacy of New Mexico students who propelled this legislation forward by sharing their experiences, and the work of our many other partners at the state and national level who have helped us . definitely changing the game for every New Mexican who wants to pursue higher education.

The General Appropriations Act earmarks $75 million for the scholarship program, which could support up to 35,000 students starting this fall, more than half of all undergraduate students in New Mexico. Over 10,000 Opportunity Scholarships have already been awarded to students over the past two years through prerequisite credits.

“Today, we took a big step toward improving outcomes for all New Mexicans by investing in their potential and the potential of our entire state. Working hand-in-hand with Governor Lujan Grisham and Secretary Rodriguez, we make transformative change possible for every family and community,” Senator Liz Stefanics noted.

“I am an adult learner who graduated from college taking six semester credits, so this bill is personally important to me. Together with Governor Lujan Grisham, we have laid a solid foundation in early childhood education, K-12 education, and now, higher education. I am proud to have sponsored this legislation, and I know it will change the lives of thousands of New Mexicans,” Representative Joy Garratt noted.

New Mexico residents interested in receiving the scholarship are encouraged to enroll in a New Mexico public college or university this fall and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students do not need to complete any additional applications to receive the Opportunity Scholarship. More information is available at www.freecollegenm.org.

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