Nearly 30 states across the country now provide free college to some extent. New Mexico made headlines after passing a law to provide university students with free tuition, effective July 1. Furthermore, New Mexico’s Opportunity Scholarship goes above and beyond by opening up access to adults, part-time students, and immigrants, despite their current immigration status, as well as high school graduates.
“For over a quarter of a century, New Mexico has been a national leader in providing free college 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,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “Signing this legislation sends a clear message to New Mexicans that we believe in them and the contributions they will make for their families and the future of our great state.”
Those who are interested in participating in the Opportunity Scholarship must enroll in a minimum of six credits towards a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the program, which applies to New Mexico’s 29 public colleges and universities, asks that students maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA.
The USD75 million program currently has USD63 million of its coronavirus relief funding. However, that amount is only set to 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.”