State Watch

New Mexico releases plan to provide free college to all state residents: report

New Mexico announced Wednesday a plan that would make tuition at its public colleges and universities free for all state residents.

The New York Times reports the plan is expected to be announced by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) on Wednesday, though it will still need legislative approval.

The plan would apply to all 29 of the state’s two- and four-year public institutions and is considered one of the most comprehensive free college plans as it offers tuition at no cost to students regardless of family income.

{mosads}“This program is an absolute game changer for New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement to the Times. “In the long run, we’ll see improved economic growth, improved outcomes for New Mexican workers and families and parents.”

The Hill has reached out to Lujan Grisham’s office for comment.

The Times notes New Mexico plans to use revenue from oil production to cover much of the costs for the program.

New Mexico’s plan goes a step further than several other states that currently offer free college to some students who qualify, with most of them covering tuition only at two-year institutions.

New Mexico’s plan would cover only tuition, not living expenses, like many other states programs. Additionally, the funds would only be available after a student exhausted existing state aid programs and federal grants.

Students must maintain a 2.5 grade point average to qualify for the program.

Carmen Lopez-Wilson, the deputy secretary of New Mexico’s Higher Education Department, told the news outlet that the program would support roughly 55,000 students a year with an annual cost of $25 million to $35 million.

“We’re giving money directly to students,” she said. “This is the best way to begin rebuilding the infrastructure of higher education in New Mexico.”

While both chambers of the New Mexico Legislature are controlled by Democrats, a spokesperson for Lujan Grisham told the Times it would require work to get the program approved.

“This will take some high-quality politicking from the governor and others to make it happen,” Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for Lujan Grisham, told the news outlet.

Tags Michelle Lujan Grisham

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